Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Christmas.

Interrupted Journey

The jolting was too much for her
and twice they stopped while she retched.
Silence stretched ahead, as though
they swam into it: eerie echoes muffled
by breeze-tides. Stars, not a star lit the way.

The pains began at dawn and he found
shelter. She was racked for hours,
torn by waves of it: until the child
broke the banks of her with head –
on a flood of arms, legs, swam into air.

Her dreams grew big as griffin’s wings,
flew around the shabby roof-tops:
until the man with myrrh arrived.
The baby whimpered, and the moment ebbed;
she felt her milk flow in; cried.

 Olivia Byard. 
(From a Benediction)

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

16 December, 2014

It has been pointed out to me that I should say I comment several times a week on Mary Beard's TLS Blog: A Don's Life, and have for a few years now.

I like the way Mary uses her scholarship to bring the Classics into our world and throw fresh light on it. She tells us about the every day life of Romans and Greeks, which is much more interesting than endless war stories.
I also enjoy her take on the many things that happen in her life. This gives the members of the blog a chance to take the discussion and let it range where it will......

I've said her blog is about developing thought. For me it's relaxation, as others do Sodoku. But I enjoy the way we discuss and argue....etc.

So, if anyone happens to be interested, today's comments after Mary's visit to hear the Carols recorded includes:
King's College itself, the Carols, the Chapel, its architecture, the Rubens,
old vs contemporary English in religious language, the light there, wider and narrower thought, food banks, Christmas songs, sacred and not, advent vs Christmas carols, the contemporary relevance of organised religion, etc......etc......

Saturday, 13 December 2014

9 December, enjoyable evening reading to Oxford Stanza 2 and talking to them.
That is the last reading for this year.

Plans now made for:

The second 'Readings to spark Reflection and Discussion'
Olivia Byard,  Rory Waterman, and Andrew Smardon

Themes: 1. Parents. 2. Dislocation

Albion Beatnik Bookshop Oxford, 3 February, 2015, 7.30pm
Last time was great fun. Rory is an excellent poet, critic, and editor.
If you're near Oxford that evening, do come along.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Another Guardian letter today. Link below, 3rd letter down:


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

25 November, 2014

An evening with David Hockney through a live film event downtown. Two hours documentary on his life and work --fascinating except music too loud, followed by an our long live interview from his LA studio.

He's doing reverse perspective and it's revolutionary! Over five hundred years after the vanishing point was discovered in western art in Italy, he shows that in fact the world comes towards us adn perspective widens out as it reaches us.

Once you see how it works, it changes your way of looking forever. Now we haven't got a vanishing point but a shifting viewpoint. That's because it's the digital age. Narrow focus,  targets, in everything are not needed anymore. Widening focus and thought, with inclusiveness and connectivity, as we are not alone or isolated, and infinity ('God') is all around us, and part of us. Of course the East knew a lot of this, but they copied us. Only some have begun to listen to what they once knew.

Amazing stuff. Lots to think about. A women got up next to me, and said 'I love that man'. Older, he's still doing it and learning --that work is all that matters -- I see what she means.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Well Versed -- Cheltenham, 27 November, 2014

'We are delighted to welcome acclaimed poet Olivia Byard to Well Versed, on Thursday 27th November.

Olivia Byard's third book The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, will be published by Worple Press, next Spring. Her first, From a Benediction,  was nominated for the Forward First Book Prize. In 2011, her second, Strange Horses, met with critical acclaim. In three years she has had five poems published in the New Statesman.

The night also includes an open mic, please come and share your work.

Well Versed offers a warm and friendly atmosphere and the chance to meet other writers.

Well Versed with Olivia Byard. Thursday 27 November. 7pm. £5/4

The Muffin Man, Cheltenham. Gallery'

Monday, 3 November 2014


A full page spread of three poems in November Quadrant, from Australia: p.71

Plus a big poem should be in the New Statesman this Friday 7th November --will confirm when it is out.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

19 October, 2014

Two Readings coming up soon:

I've been invited to be guest poet at Well Versed in Cheltenham, at the Muffin Club, on Thursday 27 November 2014.

I've also been invited to read to Oxford Stanza 2 on Tuesday 9 December, 2014.

I've accepted both invitations with pleasure!

(BTW, Foot out of both plaster and boot, and six week check past successfully. Broken foot bone healing, sprained ankle and wrist getting better, impact injury to hand and thumb healing. Six more weeks until pain free, but weekly physio needed, but walking on crutches since Friday night!
Might be able to drive in about two weeks.

Beginning to feel a little more human --have begun a poem on falling into a big hole. Needless to say, based on fact!.)
19 October, 2014, Oxford

Last night at the wonderful Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford, we had our innovative reading to inspire reflection and discussion with the audience. Jane Draycott, Beatrice Garland, Andrew Smardon and me, each read a short choice of our own poems chosen after reading a poem by Andrew.

After this we had a great 15 minute discussion with the audience and it was fascinating to feel we were all developing ideas together, poets and audience alike. The discussion ranged far and wide, interspersed by questions to us individually. Then after, we read one more poem each to finish the section.

This pattern was repeated in the second half. It was very informal and engaged. We had thought and planned quite a bit beforehand, but had no idea it would either work of feel so good.

The audience were very enthusiastic and kind in their judgement about it after, and I hope it catches on as a way of engaging people actively in poetry and poems. We left for a drink after, high as kites!

Thanks to all participants and I do hope it catches on. 8--) 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I just found this. Quite pleased it's under main Departmental News.
Live link below:

My OUDCE class, Poets' Workshop

Sunday, 14 September 2014

14 September, 2014. Pleased. Got home to find Les Murray has taken three new poems for Quadrant --I mean new ones post-book. Glad he likes new approach.......

Saturday, 23 August 2014

23 August, 2014. Another Guardian letter; this time on-line, and on British jihadists:


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

21. 8. 14 I have accepted a kind invitation to read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival again next year --sometime around 24 April. Should have new book in tow. Yippee. Great fun there last time.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

19.8.14 Albion Beatnik. 18 October, 2014:
Reading to Spark Audience Participation event created:

Jane Draycott, Beatrice Garland, Andrew Smardon, and me


Not sure how to make this link live: but if you look up Albion Beatnik Bookship, Oxford, events,
you can see details on all of us.  I'm really excited by this new experiment!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

9.8.14 New embroidery up Review page. A snake for a half Chinese, half English, baby born in the year of the snake!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

6 August, 2014. Have been invited to give a reading for Cheltenham's Well Versed Poetry Evening,
10 October, 2014, at the Muffin Man Cafe, Cheltenham. I look forward to it.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


Pavlopetri. last week I gave permission for my poem, 'Pavlopetri' to be used by Greek conservationists to help save the submerged town-site, the oldest one in the world.

The submerged town is at risk from Greek and foreign tankers --Japanese, Russian, Italian, etc., using Vatika Bay where it is conserved for cleaning their dirty hulls, with the connivance of the Greek Government which collects fees for this activity.

Nic Flemming, who discovered the site, writes today that there is a campaign meeting tonight in Neapolis to build support to lobby the Greek Government about this. Scientists are ready to do a report showing how the site is being damaged by the pollution.

Pavlopetri is very fragile. Once it is gone, it can never be recovered. If anyone can help Nic and the conservationists and scientists trying to save it, please do. If you send me an email on my contact page with your own email address. I'll give the information to Nic and the Greek coordinator.

Better still, if you have clout, just put pressure or lobby yourself.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


The New Statesman has just accepted another poem. 'After Copernicus' will appear in the Journal  later this year.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

24 June, 2014 Another Guardian letter today. Pruned a little but not too much. Link below:


The letter is third down.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

17 June 2014 Michael McKimm's Pamphlet called Fossil Sunshine turns out to be excellent. Poetry by a Geologist. These are not diatribes. The grief about what we have done to the earth seeps out of the rocks and crevices here like a fuel if we could only use it!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

1.6.14 I have had a mad panic to realize my new publisher is a poet too. I wondered what the hell I would do if I didn't like his work. How awkward that would be. Yesterday, I decided to take the plunge, and it was great. I had a thoroughly lovely time. He's a very fine writer. I wrote to him right away and below is a potted version of that email:

Peter Carpenter: Just like That. smith/Doorstop

Peter, I've read right through your book -- and loved it!
Among the beauty, humour, fine description, and a known kind of painterly landscape (difficult to describe otherwise, but to me a bit like Paul Nash
​and Ravillious ​
who I love) is a kind of English decency. It's hard to say how very good this is to read without you thinking I'm saying it's dull. It's not --it's just so very rare. We've had so much post-imperial angst and loss of identity, and guilt and bollocks and good things being grabbed by the Right or turned into caricatures like Cameron and his crew or Farage. So much not knowing ourselves if it isn't regional in some way. Even Larkin whose four slim volumes I loved --and I love your poem on that - was kind of acid.

​And ​I have been waiting so long for someone to do what you have done to Eliot, I haven't been able to stop laughing WITH DELIGHT for about half an hour! It's brilliant, really brilliant.
​If you never wrote anything else, you should be remembered with gratitude for 'The League Goals....

You​ are not ​highly dramatic, but ​you have really born witness and really looked. Noticed. Spoken up or out when  needed, loved, lost (I love the poems about the children - so tender -- and about your parents -- their loss and losses particularly), just 'carried on' in the wider sense. It's smaller scale like Austen or Emily Dickinson, but with huge trajectories into violence and war, torture, decay, outrage, etc then an adroit return to golf, cricket, being matter of fact.. This is summed up really in the poem 'The Tenth' --ostensibly about golf, it is in fact about grief and scattering ashes (presumably your father's). I suppose it's the drama in every day life really. You are reticent about wounds, though they are there, and you are openly and roundly tender.
I have noted so many poems I especially loved --my particular favourites:

'The Dimension of the Present Moment' (fabulous), 'Old Ground'(I know that so well -so well put!), 'Double Helix'(great stuff), 'Downs', 'The Tenth', Towards Cap Gris Nez',' 'The Baby', (amazing), 'Summit' (that's a huge work), 'Horton' (ditto), 'An unidentified Man' -one of my very favourites, 'Sand Person' (ditto), 'Gift' -love this! 'To one who denied the truth' --yes, I love that steadiness! 'Entering the Midlands', 'Old Mouldy' -in my case old Hollyhocks ie Miss Hollier, or old Scabby, Mr Scammel my English teacher who wrote 'The Squid-Jigging Ground' in Newfoundland --I was horrible to him I liked him so much!! 'On finding an Old Photograph', iv, especially of 'Cambridge', and of course your lovely 'Two Men Contemplating the Moon'.
Thank you for this lovely afternoon of pleasure! You literally have made my day!
Olivia x

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

28 May, 2014

My new book, The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, will be published by Worple Press in 2015. Thrilled by Worple Press with its beautifully designed books and terrific authors, having Peter and Amanda Carpenter to work with, and Michael McKimm, already very kind, welcoming and helpful. Some days the sun really does shine!!

Saturday, 24 May 2014


Post election:  another letter in Guardian today -- and pretty little cartoon:


Letter is second one down, slightly pruned so not as literate as it was.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The EU Marine Board's 10 Year Report on the seas, underwater habitats and climate change, illustrated by my poem, 'Pavlopetri', has gone to Press. It will be presented at a global Conference in Rome this autumn.

Website Updates:

My reading at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, 6 April, 2014, is posted as an audio recording on the link from Home Page.

My poem 'The Wilding Eye', published by the University of Oxford, in Oxford Magazine, Nought Week, Trinity Term, 2014, is now posted here as new Work.

A new teeny picture of me is on the Home Page.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

29 April,2014 Very pleased. My new title poem 'The Wilding Eye' has appeared in Oxford Magazine, nought week issue. In a week or two I'll get it put up on my new work page. Should have Cheltenham recording up by then too, and even a more bearable recent photo!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

10 April,2014

Two new poems in April Issue, Quadrant, Australia. Journal available here in UK also. Two poems by Mayra Schneider too. A poem also by Clive James.

Monday, 7 April 2014

7 April, 2014

Reading at Cheltenham poetry festival yesterday was really good fun. A great crowd, very receptive audience. Ross, Robin and Anna, the Festival and event organizers, are the kindest most thoughtful  people I have come across in these contexts. A great thanks to them for making it all so easy and comfortable.

Friday, 21 March 2014

21 March, 2014. Guardian letter on the Budget, and main letter quote. Link here:


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

20 March, 2014. Oxford Poetry to publish next term, the poem I have decided will be the title poem of my next book. Very pleased Lucy likes it  -- I value her judgement!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Cheltenham Reading, 6 April 12.30 pm. now listed  in brochure:


I hope people come - looking forward to it!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

18th Feb. 2014

Another long newsy letter from Les in Oz - he's taken two more poems for Quadrant. What a fabulous supporter of my work, and great friend! Also one of nature's gentlemen! Love him to bits, even if he'll never read it here, hating computers as he does!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

8 February 2014. Reading in Oxford with students went well.
Heaney memorial event, anguishing - done well though.
New embroidery on contacts page.