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Holly Isemonger, Greatest Hit

Commended in the 2023 5Islands Poetry Prize for a First Book of Poetry

In her long-awaited debut collection, Holly Isemonger, engages, pulls apart, and ingeniously reassembles our language to surprising, ingenious ends. Despite the formal innovation there is nothing cold or dry about this collection: it is funny and sad, biting and wrenching, immediate and tender. These poems are excursions which incorporate both the communal and the deeply personal. If they are ‘experimental’, then they are experiments from the heart. Isemonger’s work is irreverent, never boring, always buffered by exquisite sensibility, style and form. Greatest Hit is a stunning and highly anticipated debut by the winner of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize.

'The poems in Greatest Hit spool off the page like feisty, filmic reels, assembling myriad recombinant epiphanies. Holly Isemonger’s poetic is irreverent, inventive and ingenious, yet offset by the necessity of resilience (weighted by blankets and Tom Waits). These are poems of the South Coast surf, a regional psychogeography disrupting (often antipodean) cliches of teen cinema, soap operas and reality TV, using visceral and visual defamiliarization. The fractured female gaze produces a kaleidoscope of aesthetic and affect, mixing the erotic with the melancholic. Isemonger is a poet-philosopher-cum-cinematographer, worthy of cult status, a feminist auteur of the Australian nouvelle vague.' Keri Glastonbury

'Many of us have been waiting some time – too long – for Holly Isemonger’s debut collection of poetry. It was worth it. Greatest Hit takes the lessons of the modernists and puts real human flesh on those often cold bones. Behind the often ingenious formal experimentation is a sense of play and exploration which uncovers matters alternately grave and comic, sometimes at once. As good as these poems are, there is more at stake in Isemonger’s work than a teasing out of the possibilities of language; these are poems about sense and nonsense, of falling apart and holding it together, of giving up and living on – in short, about what it means, or might mean, to be a human being. What more could one ask for?' Chris Fleming

Holly Isemonger is a poet, critic and editor from Gerringong, NSW. She was the joint winner of the Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Cordite, Overland and Westerly and she is the author of the chapbooks Hip Shifts (If A Leaf Falls Press) and Deluxe Paperweight (Stale Objects dePress). She can be found at @Hisemonger on Twitter.

Holly Isemonger, Greatest Hit
2023. 148mm x 210mm. 80pp.
ISBN 978-1-925735-55-0
Release: February 2023


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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