Tuesday, 17 December 2013

17 December 2013.

The editor of the European Marine Board's strategic report, which covers all planning for the next ten years, including what to do to enable the oceans to survive climate change, has asked if they can include my poem 'Pavlopetri'(originally published in the New Statesman) with a couple of comments of mine, to help illustrate the report. They want to get the sciences and the arts speaking together on this subject and also to make it as accessible as possible. They like the poem and think it will help.

The report goes to a staggering number of countries, places, politicians, cultural leads etc. A huge reach.

Of course I agreed to re-publicication, and feel both proud and humble to be asked!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

12 December 2013

Cheltenham Poetry Festival reading confirmed, 6 April 2014, 12.30 - 2 pm.
Will be reading with Paul Hayward, who will be discussing and reading from the rediscovered and republished work of his father, William Hayward, a poet and novelist from the fifties.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

7. 12.13 Another Guardian letter today  -on Mandela. Short snippet only.


Also new Quadrant poems out now. December issue in shops.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

4 December 2013

My take on Higgs Boson - Warwick Review, December Issue, out tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

29 November 2013.

Date now set for  this winter's 'Contemporary Witness'. I'll be reading with my Workshop Poets on
28 January 2014, at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday. 10.11.13

This poem of mine was published in Australia last year by Les Murray in the international literary magazine, Quandrant.

(PS somewhere between cut and paste here and the actual News page on website, the last line of this poem has floated down a little - nothing we can do apparently. Sorry.)

‘Pro Patria’

Armistice Day

In green utility boiler suits
they could be here to fix the heating,
except for embellished wings
on each straight shoulder. One of them
still sports tooth braces, two
wear wedding rings.
                  They’re in logistics,
fly supplies out overseas
and their plane to Afghanistan is late.
               I remember another cafĂ©,
a man who’d consumed his crew
to survive an arctic air-crash -
he ate alone, a speaking space
around him -
              the stench of shadows
             seeps from these men too.
                            I want to tell them
we flinch from each butchered body
the plane brings back, they torment
us like ghosts we cannot disarm -
     but hesitate, while poppy sales

     scream daily of fresh kill.

Olivia Byard

Monday, 28 October 2013

28 October - Quadrant. Two more poems will appear in the December issue.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

15 October - unhappy with some of the embroideries used for banners. We're redoing - should be finished tomorrow.

Friday, 11 October 2013

11.10.13: Update. Wonderful editor Alex Eichler has fixed on-line huffpost poem. So grateful!
Link here:

11 Oct. 2013. Among chaos, some order. Thanks to hardworking tech guru, David Brown, website
now working well and refreshed with new banners - based on some of my embroideries. (At least I'm sure of image copyright!!) Thank you, David. xx

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

9. October 2013  - Huffpost published my poem, today but unfortunately, in spite of much effort on both sides of the Atlantic, they can't get the form onto their blog, so it looks strange. However, the language is still there and there is a super pic to introduce the poem on the general page.

The poem is in Huffpost 50 - a part of the Journal that focuses on older people and is published in 7 countries. What I'm proud of is that this is not a literary magazine, though literary mags. matter a lot.  But these are just Huffpost staff who decided to trawl the globe for poems they like written by people over fifty and publish them - I think the guy who chose my poem is a business editor. To be chosen here for that reason matters a lot to me - it's really encouraging to know work can be liked beyond the literary world too.


Poem as it should look:

The Corset

That hot summer in Maine
when I was fourteen, Granny
found herself beached
in her whale-boned corset
high above the shimmering shoreline  -
our bags rugs drinks and clothes
washed up against her.
                           She sweltered
but was adamant, until the thermometer
nudged ninety and even she
had a refit to Bermuda shorts
and a top.
                          I wondered
if she'd tip over without her stays -
but she trimmed herself up
to full four feet nine inches,
and breeze belling her loose blouse
straight with my little brother
through the shallows for crabbing -
        naked toes wriggling beneath.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

5 October 2013

Long Guardian letter today. Link here:

Website links all working again and a few new ones added, but new design not finished yet.

Huff Post 50 poem next Wed., will put up link then. :0)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Site Maintenance

26 September 2013. Due to the usual gremlins, worms, bugs and other small beasts that lurk in the murky depths of computers, the site needs maintenance and some links are not working right now.
They will all be back up and running again soon, after a 'techier' brain than mine has had a chance to set matters right. And hopefully, with extra added new non-plastic features!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

28. 8 13.
Another letter in The Guardian today - this time on the Syrian situation. It was badly cut but got a main point across. Below is the link to today's letters page, and the original text I sent in.

bottom letter

Full text:

Why is money always found for wars abroad and not enough found to feed and care for our own people? How can we ever think of gathering resources and sending young people to die in yet another little understood conflict, when so many Britons are hungry, our health care is threatened, and our education system and culture is being daily trashed. When will we learn that the counties that do NOT go to foreign wars - China, Germany, the Nordic countries, Brazil, etc. - have economies that thrive?

The use of chemical weapons is appalling but so is cruise missiles, machetes, water-boardings, imprisonment without trail, etc..

Please let's stop parading on the world stage like wound-up ancient tin soldiers who don't know when or how to stop! Let's look at the motes in our own eyes first, and learn. Let's refuse to go anywhere again without a water-tight UN mandate and then only as a very small cog in a huge global exercise designed to heal Syria rather than cause further harm.

Let's force the world to move beyond war as a solution, before we lose the earth altogether! 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Have just accepted an invitation today to read at Cheltenham Poetry Festival next spring.

Also Les Murray has taken two more poems for Quadrant -

Learned in South Wales this weekend that it's a mistake to return to places which sparked my imagination as a child. Kenfig pool is not the actual location of the 'drowned town'. It is really located up beside the M4 and was covered with sand pretty quickly (Time Team did a recent quick excavation and then re-covered it).

I should love those facts too, but it was really an Anglo-Norman town, not Welsh, and I spent a lot of time on windy days listening out for the church bells under the pool!

Also, a very right wing historian who lives mostly in the US has bought Sker House and done it up. It's now in good nick but very private and can't be visited. So we can no longer sit in the old hotel bar, watch waves splash the rocks above Wrecker's Bay and shiver, imagining the old ones putting out lanterns on stormy nights to beckon unwary boats onto the rocks. It feels like a violation. There's possibly a poem about that, in a while....

Still, saw a Welsh wedding - didn't know before that Welsh men wore kilts!! Dark ones, mind and no sporran! Very smart though in wonderful Physick Garden in Cowbridge in bright sunshine, among all the colourful flowering herbs. Wish I had a life-time's knowledge of herbs - that would be worth knowing!! I bet we once rivalled the Chinese for herbal knowledge! All lost in urbanisation!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

31 July. Huffington Post has chosen to publish my poem 'The Corset' in the next few weeks as part of their global campaign to find good poet voices over fifty years of age. Dead chuffed.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Another Guardian letter today- this time on the baby photo-shoot and body image. The present letters- page editors cut more than the previous ones, so my comments on the crude and brutal nature of this appalling rite got left out.  However, the basic feminist point got across.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Latest NS.Poem:Paying off the Mortgage

My latest New Statesman poem, 'Paying off the Mortgage' is now up on-line. It can be read at:

I will put it on the New Work page in a few weeks.

Also, brief letter in The Guardian yesterday. Taking a new view of /approach to, feminism

Monday, 3 June 2013

Reading - Ashmoleum

15 June.

I'm joining two poetry tours of the Ashmoleum at 12.30pm and 2.30 pm with an old student of mine,  Andrew Smardon, who is an excellent poet,  I will be reading (twice), 'In True Colours',  a poem from my recent book, Strange Horses, that was inspired by the famous and weird painting, 'The Forest Fire' by Piero di Cosimo.

I'll be reading it, in the gallery in front of the actual picture.
Andrew will also be reading his fine poem, 'Aestel', on the Alfred Jewel, which is also in the museum  -
should be fun!

new poem published

The New Statesman say they plan to publish a new poem of mine called 'Paying the Mortgage', this Friday, 7 June, 2013.  This will be the fourth poem of mine they've published.

Monday, 29 April 2013

New Review: 28 April found at the Poetry Library, London - another positive review of Strange Horses, one I hadn't seen before. Had it photocopied and added to Reviews page today. It was published by Orbis Quarterly International Poetry Journal last year.

Also really enjoyed the graffiti undercroft art space at the South Bank Centre - fantastically colourful and inclusive and  full of kids skateboarding and cycling; Norman Parkinson's elegant and beautiful photos and of course, Alan Bennett's 'People', the closest thing to Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' I've come across in art.. not really my news, but had to mention all this! Super birthday treat!
20 April: Pleased to be guest poet at a concert given by Voice Box choir at St Barnabas Church, Jericho for the charity Freedom from Torture. Did a set in each half of the performance. Great singing, a good evening and an important cause!
Quadrant: Spring Issue 2013: two poems published. Pleased to be placed on a page together with Les and Dennis Driscoll.
Oxford Magazine 8th week Hilary term: commissioned essay on Strange Horses published in Oxford Poetry. A really interesting and positive piece called 'The Tailor Retailoring'. Can be found on Reviews page.
4, March 2013: New Statesman accepts poem 'Paying off the Mortgage'. Still to be published.
February - University of Oxford welfare weekend, Saturday pm - invited into Balliol College by the editors of their undergraduate Magazine 'Scrawl'  to do a workshop with students - a full rewarding session further enlivened by the presence of Chlamydia researchers, so students dashing through the other end of the room to the toilets to do samples! It all became joyously surreal.

A really good group - enjoyed it. Coming out of the JCR, looked up amazed, to see the Hall on a hill so beautiful. Crocuses as well! I never knew in all these years that this magic was there behind St Giles!  
Nought week Hilary Term - poem 'Ship in the Night' dedicated to Bernard O'Donoghue published in Oxford Magazine  - all patterning destroyed during publication - an apology received end of term, for which I'm grateful. Poem as it should to be found here on website under New Work.
13 January, 2013 - I read at Albion Beatnik Bookshop, Jericho, Oxford, with several of my students. The bookshop was packed and I was very proud of all the readers, some of whom had never read before and all of whom were interesting to listen to!