The Wilding Eye, New and Selected Poems, The Worple Press, 2015
‘Olivia Byard’s work is genuinely gifted … and worthy of acclaim’
‘These poems are often unsettling and uncanny and occupy those contested spaces beyond our domestic thresholds. Remember the last time the animal in you stirred in fear or anger and you will feel the power of Byard’s Wilding Eye’
John Fields, review, in ‘Poor Rude Lines’ - read the full review.
This third book also includes a generous selection of updated poems from Olivia’s previous two collections:
Strange Horses, Flambard Press, 2011
A Telegraph recommended read, February 2012
"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."
"Couched in this profound but accessible collection one finds a re-setting of intellectual history ….. Pound describes poets as ‘the antennae of the race’; in this, her second collection, Olivia Byard guides us forward with confidence and compassion.”
For full essay review please see the Reviews page.
From a Benediction, Peterloo Poets, 1997
Nominated for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, 1998
From Poetry Review, Summer 1998:
On the back of From a Benediction, Alastair Fowler says of Olivia Byard’s work: “…her poetry is superior to much that is currently published”. This is fighting talk, even in blurb-land. But Byard stands up to such praise. Like Ferguson, she as her own voice, with what I suspect are Shakespearean overtones, but she handles that influence lightly. Indeed, it suits her: “blossoms hung like heavy udders / or drifting thick down-stream… / unfurling aquilegia worlds / with moons and milky morning mists”. Byard’s unafraid of lyricism, and rightly so, because her overall tone remains uncluttered in spite of this descriptive onslaught.
She has a comprehensive understanding of structure, as opposed to “form”, not simply hearing how a poem should sound and placing the line-break appropriately, but crafting individual lines as if they were miniature poems in themselves. Byard also employs the alliterative tradition, overtly in the above example, but more often subtly integrated into the whole: “While cold, I saw in memory’s stern eye, / the black stubble burning, the fiery sky”. Add the off-beat, Hopkins-style, to this bag of tricks, skilfully produced to close many a poem in mid-bar (“She had blended into autumn, / begun to belong. And blown leaves, / bird song, befriend”), and it amounts to a superbly handled and highly readable first collection.