A Sky Full of Strange Specimens is an exploration of restraint and freedom, and emotional upheaval and uncertainty. The surreal title of the pamphlet comes from a line in my opening poem, which tells about a great storm in Ireland in 1839, where entire houses were blown away, and there are storms and tremors to be found throughout the pamphlet.
Life in lockdown confined our lives within four walls, so perhaps it is not a surprise that much of my collection recalls and imagines different domestic settings, and the emotional stories connected to them: bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, caravans all become rich ground to reflect on the minutiae of how we live. Some of my work is autobiographical, but there are many different female figures from history and literature - from Anne Bonny to Miss Havisham - who make an appearance.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about riotous excursions into the human heart and I find it fascinating that however we live our lives and whatever we do (or don’t do) we can’t ever avoid these strange, sad and wonderful journeys, without going anywhere at all.
Olga is originally from Northern Ireland. She studied English at the University of St Andrews and is an assistant head teacher at a secondary school in Warwickshire. She has always loved reading and writing poetry, and over the past five years has been dedicating more time to her writing. She has two daughters, and motherhood has shaped and influenced many aspects of her work. Memory, social and political history and female identity spark her interest as a writer and are prevalent themes in her work.
A winner of Candlestick Press’ competition for 10 Poems about Breakfast in 2019, the BBC Proms poetry competition in 2019 and Poetry on Loan competition in 2020, Olga enjoys experimenting with different poetic forms, and has collaborated with a range of local artists as part of Warwickshire Open Studios to create ekphrastic poetry in response to their work.
She was selected as one of the emerging poets on Radio 4 for Bedtime Stories for the End of the World, re-telling the Irish myth of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, working with Natalie Linh Bolderston and Malika Booker. She is a commissioned artist for Coventry City of Culture 2021.
Olga has had poetry and flash fiction widely published in a range of magazines including: Under the Radar, Magma, Rattle Magazine, Butcher’s Dog, Cordite Review, Strix, Paper Swans Press, and anthologies including; The result is what you see today (Smith / Doorstop) and Beyond the Storm (Write out Loud). Her first pamphlet apple, fallen is published by Against the Grain Press.