Olivia Byard was born in South Wales, and grew up on the Cotswolds and in Montreal, Canada, where she subsequently studied at Queens University and the University of Alberta. She returned to Britain as a young adult.
She started to write and publish poems both here and abroad in the late eighties. In the early nineties she began creative writing workshops in the weekly class programme at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. She also taught for a while for Reading University Department for Extended Education and was a part-time tutor for Stanford in Oxford. She taught Workshops for OUDCE at Oxford for twenty three years, but now prefers to read and teach when invited, when not writing her fourth book.
Her first collection of poems, From a Benediction, from Peterloo Poets, was nominated for The Forward Prize for best First Collection in 1998. Her second book, Strange Horses, Flambard Press, came out in October 2011, was cited by The Telegraph in January 2012 as one of the best recent collections, and received excellent reviews. Her third, The Wilding Eye - New and Selected Poems, was published by The Worple Press, 2 April 2015.
Her work is also published and anthologised both in Britain and abroad. It has been championed by such figures as Les Murray, Alastair Fowler and Bernard O'Donoghue; and in their life-times, John Bayley, Anna Ridler and Brian Cox.
She has strong feelings about unfairness in society and the wider world - and about climate change in particular - and our urgent need for renewables and a sustainable, kinder system of living where humans, animals and plants can all thrive together in a healthier world. She has published a number of letters in The Guardian, and often comments on social, political, and literary matters on-line.