In Strange Horses, Olivia Byard creates visceral and muscular poetry that challenges all efforts to mute and silence us. In an eclectic journey, she takes us as far back as the Bible, medieval times and Shakespeare to Keats, Eliot, Auden and Larkin, referencing self-harm and spirituality, Agincourt and Greenham Common, nursery rhymes and Gay Pride, and crossing both British and Canadian landscapes.
Her poems embody both clarity and complexity of thought, displaying a gutsy, spiky vision that is close to the bone and organically crafted. The work is edgy but controlled, combining both chilling and tender language while resting on the axis between truth and lie, haven and nightmare, and illness and health. Byard’s poems spotlight life lived vividly, where respite and joys are hard won by courage, grim defiance and self-awareness. In this powerful and engaging collection even the difficult and ugly reveal possibilities for beauty.