Announcing the winner of the 2023 Stella Prize
Stella is thrilled to announce Sarah Holland-Batt’s unforgettable and unflinching poetry collection, The Jaguar (University of Queensland Press), as the winner of the 2023 Stella Prize.
The $60,000 Prize was awarded to Holland-Batt on stage at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art on the evening of Thursday 27 April.
Holland-Batt, an award-winning poet and Professor of Creative Writing and Literary Studies at QUT, wrote these poems as she observed the devastation of her father’s worsening Parkinson’s Disease. The result is a remarkable collection that the 2023 Stella Judging Panel said “investigates the body as a site of both pleasure and frailty.”
The Prize was presented by award-winning author and 2023 Stella Prize Chair of Judges, Alice Pung OAM. Pung says of the winning book:
“In The Jaguar, Sarah Holland-Batt writes about death as tenderly as we’ve ever read about birth. She focuses on the pedestrian details of hospitals and aged care facilities, enabling us to see these institutions as distinct universes teeming with life and love. Her imagery is unexpected and unforgettable, and often blended with humour. This is a book that cuts through to the core of what it means to descend into frailty, old age, and death. It unflinchingly observes the complex emotions of caring for loved ones, contending with our own mortality and above all – continuing to live.”
Of winning this year’s Prize, Sarah Holland-Batt says:
“It’s both an indescribable joy and a deep honour to receive the Stella Prize for The Jaguar. I wrote this book during an intensely challenging period, as my father was dying, and just after. It was the friendship, generosity, and camaraderie of women that not only saw me through this difficult time, but that has been the sustaining armature of my writing life. So it’s only right that I acknowledge all the women – publishers, editors, mentors, fellow writers, friends – who have supported and championed my work over the years; I simply wouldn’t be here without them. I’m thrilled to enter into the company of the extraordinary writers who have received the Stella, and so grateful for what this prize has done to transform the books and voices we value in Australian literature.”
Creative Director & Co-CEO of Stella, Jaclyn Booton, says of the winning book:
“The Jaguar is a gift of a book. It examines questions of grief and memory and care; it weaves together moments of both full-hearted joy and crushing disappointment. Stella is thrilled to celebrate this book as the winner of the 2023 Stella Prize, and we encourage readers to experience this deeply affecting collection for themselves. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Sarah on her achievement.”
The 2023 Stella Prize is generously supported by the Wilson Foundation. Chair of the Wilson Foundation, Karen Wilson, says:
“The Stella Prize has an extraordinary impact on Australian literature. Annually the Prize provides us with a collection of authors and books that are brave, provocative, and original. As a literary award it has set the benchmark for gender equality and cultural change. 2023 is the Wilson Foundation’s final year as the Stella Prize Award sponsor which we have had the pleasure of supporting since 2020. We wish the Stella Prize ongoing and continued success.”
Stella encourages you to join us in celebrating this outstanding work, and to pick up a copy of The Jaguar at your local bookshop or library. You can also hear directly from our 2023 winner at upcoming appearances at the Melbourne Writers Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Bendigo Writers Festival and more.