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The cover of Strange Horses

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.



‘Monsters – real and imaginary – roam throughout Olivia Byard’s Strange Horses. She notes “the dog heads/the sciapods, and those weird souls/with heads down in their chests” in Hereford Cathedral (“Mappa Mundi”) and the flickering, averted eyes of a boy-policeman at Greenham Common in “Monstrous Regiments”.
Mark Sanderson’s ‘Best New Poetry Collections’ in The Telegraph

‘Olivia Byard’s new book shows the same virtues that gained From a Benediction such acclaim. These are clear-eyed poems of precision and clarity. They restore your faith in the power of poetry to help and to console.’  — Bernard O’Donoghue

'Olivia Byard is a real poet.’  — Alastair Fowler

To buy this book:

Strange Horses costs £8.00 and was published in October 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-906601-32-4

Olivia Byard

Olivia Byard’s poetry has been widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies in Britain and abroad. Her first collection, From a Benediction, was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. She was born in Newport, South Wales, and grew up in the Cotswolds and in Montreal, Canada, where she studied at Queen’s University and the University of Alberta. She now lives in Oxfordshire and works as a part-time Creative Writing tutor for the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education where she began and still teaches poetry workshops.

Photo: Jocelyn Taylor

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Web site design by Cornwell Internet. Page last updated on 26th September 2012.