Winner of the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Prize for Poetry.
2018 Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal.
With its wildness and originality, The Agonist is an exhilarating collection. Exploring the languages of anatomy, etymology and incantation, these poems craft conversations about fracture and repair, energy, love and danger.
About the Author
Shastra Deo was born in Fiji, raised in Melbourne, and lives in Brisbane. She graduated with first-class honours and a University Medal in creative writing from The University of Queensland, and is currently completing her Master of Writing, Editing and Publishing.
'Grounded in the body and its pain, Deo's stunning poems move beyond the merely philosophical. The agonists of this book - bodies damaged by conflict or ideology, love or loss - are viscerally and exquisitely real.' Maria Takolander
'Precise, incisive and surreal, Shastra Deo's poems govern the space between beauty and terror. Without doubt, a remarkable new voice has arrived.' Bronwyn Lea
'The Agonist exists somewhere between a haunted forest and a dissecting bench, demonstrating that the realities of the physical body are just as strange (and terrifying) as anything in fable or myth. At once tender and forensic, Shastra Deo's poems ask what it means to inhabit a body which collects its own souvenirs of experience, and from which it is impossible to gain reprieve. This is a poetry of blood, smoke and communion - where one is as likely to encounter a boxer's knuckles as the velvet of antlers; where tiny fish swimming in the lungs of the drowned are as present as a lover's hands. A striking and memorable debut.' Chloe Wilson
'Full of the beautiful music of fracture and repair ... Exhilarating in its risk and energy, surprising in its evocations and work with form, this is a distinctive collection.' - Judges' comments, Thomas Shapcott Prize