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Holland-Batt awarded $100,000 Judy Harris fellowship

Australian poet, writer and critic Sarah Holland-Batt has been awarded the University of Sydney’s $100,000 Judy Harris Writer in Residence fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre.

Holland-Batt, who is associate professor of creative writing at Queensland University of Technology, is the first poet to be awarded the year-long fellowship. She will use it to complete her fourth book of poetry and a book of personal essays, exploring subjects including deep brain treatment, the unknown side of Parkinson’s disease, ageing and mortality.

‘One of the most exciting aspects of the Judy Harris residency is the prospect of pursuing a literary work while engaging and conversing with leading researchers in health disciplines—I am excited to see where these exchanges take my writing,’ she said.

Holland-Batt’s current body of work is inspired by her father’s experience of Parkinson’s and in the aged care system. His experiences in the system culminated in Holland-Batt testifying on his behalf at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

‘Poetry can help foster empathy and understanding towards older people,’ she said of the relationship between her advocacy and her writing. ‘A poem can let a listener or reader into a charged moment, they can feel as though they’re hearing someone’s intimate thoughts or experiences.’

‘Most people are moved by stories such as my father’s, yet they still can’t conceive that it could happen to them,’ she said. ‘A poem … can bring you into closer contact with the lives of others—including those whose experiences may initially seem distant from your own.’

Holland-Batt will commence the residency in the latter half of 2021.


Category: Local news