I am a poet based in London, working and performing across the UK.
My debut pamphlet, He Said I Was a Peach, is available to buy from ignitionpress, part of the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre.
My editor Niall Munro interviewed me about the pamphlet: listen here.
My poem 'Appetit' was awarded First Place in the Open category of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2020 judged by Fiona Benson. You can read the poem here.
Since graduating with a BA in Classics, I have facilitated lectures, talks and poetry workshops for schools and institutions, notably for the Classics departments of UCL and Durham University. I have led numerous workshops with young people on the subject of queer poetic inheritance, especially in relation to the fragments of Sappho.
My work has been published online in bath magg, and in print in Modern Poetry in Translation, Popshot, Magma and anthologies from Bloodaxe and Macmillan. My poems have been illustrated by Aistė Stancikaitė and Lily Arnold, and have been set to music by Athanasia Kontou, Rebecca Nisco, Jack Selby and others.
Praise for He Said I Was a Peach
These are breathtaking poems of a strange, deep glamour; their imagery is uncompromising, and their music utterly original. Byford composes on a scale that is entirely her own. She has a preternatural ability to capture other worlds, other Umwelten – Thetis hearing her son’s voice as 'a warm strain / softening the frozen kelp / like piss', or the shuttling dislocations of Arachne – 'weft thin / softning'. These poems return to sites of trauma or eroticism or myth in a way that renders them immediate, dangerous, and unstable; but there is a beautiful act of salvage here. The world is sifted for its stains, blisters and residues, its sensual drives, and the sticky fingers of human longing. Byford is a reckoning, an uncanny and ferocious rising star. — Fiona Benson
• Three sections from a longer poem, Index Patient, have been published in Issue 8 of bath magg. You can read them, and listen to my readings of them, here. I am still in the process of writing the full poem, in which I hope to intertwine the themes of pandemic, conservation, patriarchal violence, isolation and bats.
•My latest cross-disciplinary project, THE STYX, has secured a project grant from Arts Council England. The artist film represents a collaboration with composer Athanasia Kontou and soprano/performer Helene Mathiesen, and seeks to reframe the narrative around trauma towards the possibility of healing, through the myth of Persephone's journey to the Underworld. The project combines poetry, opera and film, and our co-partners are Medusa Collective, The Writing Squad and PTSD UK.
• My debut pamphlet, He Said I Was a Peach, launched on 25th August 2021 with ignitionpress alongside stunning new pamphlets from Fathima Zahra and Zein Sa'dedin.
• This summer, composer Rebecca Nisco set three of my poems to classical music, to create The Mannequin Set. These were performed at the Royal College of Music on 12 July by soprano Catherine Hooper, tenor Harry Grigg and pianist Emily Hoh. Listen to moments from their performances here (and below).
A selection of older news
In March I took part in a UCL lecture to discuss my translation of Sappho's 'Hymn to Aphrodite', published in Modern Poetry in Translation in 2020.
I performed poetry online at A Poetry Murder Mystery, the inaugural event of The Braag CIC. The Braag is a production company for literature and performing arts events, which aims to support underrepresented emerging artists in the North East of England.
My poem 'Appetit, for Persephone' was awarded first place in the open section of the 2020 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition. Judge Fiona Benson described the poem as "a strange and wondrous haunting". You can read the poem here, along with the other winning and commended poems.
In July I performed poetry in the Barbican Gallery as part of a Young Barbican Night celebrating the feminist contemporary artist Lee Krasner and the Barbican's exhibition of her artworks.
In May I delivered workshops at the Barbican as part of their Artist and the Machine Day, a celebration of the opening of the exhibition AI: More Than Human. The workshops explored themes of automation and humanity through Dada poetry techniques.
In March I performed poetry at the Houses of Parliament as part of the APPG for poetry. The group was established in 2019 to focus the efforts of MPs and peers in supporting the growth and development of poetry opportunities in the UK.
In February I read poetry and joined in discussion of women and poetry, alongside poet Nikita Gill and anthologist Ana Sampson. The evening, which took place at Southlands Arts Centre, celebrated the release of the anthology 'She Is Fierce: brave, bold and beautiful poems by women' (Macmillan UK).
A songwriting collaboration between myself and composer Athanasia Kontou came to fruition in a concert at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music in June. The song, 'Odysseus/Penelope', was performed at by pianist Brian Low and vocalist Lucy Temby. Listen to the recording here and below.
I'll get back to you as soon as possible - k.m.r.