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2023 - Shortlisted
The Jaguar is a tremendous collection of poems, deeply compelling in their subject matter and exemplary in their attention to language and craft. Holland-Batt displays her mastery of the form by applying immense pressure on the poetic line, often seemingly without effort, yet continually producing surprising, dazzling results. Each poem emerges as a highly polished, finely faceted gem; each jewelled word is perfectly set in place with the precision of a master craftsman.
This is muscular, tenacious writing of great intensity that bears unflinching witness to the decline and death of a loved one, that embraces the necessary suffering that is part of loving and of being human. The Jaguar is poetry of the highest order — poetry that changes us in the reading of it, that reminds us of the inevitable: ‘Soon, I tell you, everything / will be washed by rain’.