December 2016 – January 2017

Arts & Letters

Nostalgia

By Sarah Holland-Batt
A poem

 

for my school friends

I think of the luxury cars we drove as teenagers –
Audis, Mercedes, Lexus, Bimmers.
Brooks Brothers leather and cashmere sweaters.
Padlock Tiffany fobs. Kate Spade totes.
The knowing yearbook notes: il miglior fabbro,
see you in Belize! We got our tans at sophisticated lakes –
you could tell they were premium. The water
was pretty much Evian. No more than we deserved:
silver service Cokes and lobster rolls, black diamond
weekends in Aspen. French lessons? Bien sûr, chérie, you bet.
Après ski, sophomore trips to Paris and the Met.
A Harvard woman in Wayfarers and a trench
came to recruit our brains, which were the size of the state
she said, fast and sleek as Corvettes. They opened doors,
were plush as debutante balls, cost a bomb.
But we nailed our vitae: honour roll, choir, varsity tennis.
Gridiron? God, no; soccer. (Our sports were European.)
Philosophy class: Kant, Camus, absurdism.
Our teacher we called by his given name (Jim).
Jim showed us Ubu Roi, the sad wrong jaguars of Rousseau.
We aced trig and calculus, everything you could know
from Lincoln to Clinton. Blue dress, log cabin.
No cheer team. We were leaders. We fed the homeless
foiled burritos like silver bullets and started not-for-profits,
partied in our parents’ boardrooms and drank Everclear
from ironic red dixie cups. We showered every penny
of our college years on worthy NGOs. Our empires
could come later, after the consulting years; we had time
at our disposal, and after all, we could afford it:
we had generously upholstered souls, and everybody knows
America was beautiful at the end of the century
and charity begins with our kind of beautiful money.

Sarah Holland-Batt

Sarah Holland-Batt is a poet. Her most recent book is The Hazards.

Cover

December 2016 – January 2017

From the front page

Image of Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

Meet and bleat

Australia’s emissions targets have been soft – they’re about to get harder

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Morrison’s climate flip

Australia has a lot of catching up to do on emissions reduction

Image of whale sculpture

Inner space

Taking to London’s streets in lockdown, with thoughts of Orwell and Henry Miller, plagues, eels, decorative cakes and what might be done in the belly of a whale

Image of album artwork for Brazen Hussies soundtrack

Song sisters

The soundtrack to documentary ‘Brazen Hussies’ shows a breadth of feeling about women’s liberation in Australia


In This Issue

Image of Patrick White

The art of biography

The author stays out of the picture, and other personal rules of writing

Image of Pauline Hanson

A pox on both your houses

How can the major parties address the rise of populism in Australia?

Illustration

Australia divided

The electorate has fractured into three economic and cultural zones

Image of Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory by Georgia O’Keefe

A new world for the making

‘O’Keefe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism’ brings together three giants of modernism


More in Arts & Letters

Image of Dhambit Munuŋgurr's Bees at Gäṉgän, 2019

Blue is the colour

The idiosyncratic work of Yolngu artist Dhambit Mununggurr

Image of ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

Dividing the Tasman: ‘Empire and the Making of Native Title’

Historian Bain Attwood examines the different approaches to sovereignty in the New Zealand and Australian settlements

Image of Shirley Hazzard

Shirley Hazzard’s wider world

The celebrated Australian author’s ‘Collected Stories’ sets private desperation in the cosmopolitan Europe she revered

Image from ‘Mank’

Citizen plain: ‘Mank’

David Fincher’s biopic of Orson Welles’s collaborating writer favours technique over heart


More in Poetry

East Melbourne liturgy

Image of Les Murray

Les Murray’s magisterial ‘Collected Poems’

How to approach a 736-page collection by Australia’s greatest poet?

Detail of a painting of Barron Field

Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius

How a minor poet made a major historical error

Collingwood

A song cycle in 5 parts


Read on

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Morrison’s climate flip

Australia has a lot of catching up to do on emissions reduction

Image of album artwork for Brazen Hussies soundtrack

Song sisters

The soundtrack to documentary ‘Brazen Hussies’ shows a breadth of feeling about women’s liberation in Australia

Warrior culture

The allegations of Australian war crimes have shattered the national digger mythology

Fever dream

A vision of America in November 2021


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