Olivia McCannon was born on Merseyside and currently lives in Harlesden, London, following nine years spent in France (eight in the Belleville area of Paris). She writes poetry, short fiction, lyrics and libretti.

She studied at the Queen’s College, Oxford (French/German), then at the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III) on an Entente Cordiale scholarship. She is currently working on a PhD at Newcastle University and is the recipient of a Northern Bridge studentship.

Her translations from French include a Balzac novel for Penguin Classics, medieval to modern poetry, and contemporary plays for the London Royal Court Theatre residencies.

She has co-judged the Tower Poetry Prize (2014), the  Poetry Society Popescu Prize (2015), and the Stephen Spender Prize (2017, 2018).


Exactly My Own Length (Carcanet/Oxford Poets, 2011)
Winner of the 2012  Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, shortlisted for the 2012 Seamus Heaney Centre Prize.

Birdbook: Saltwater and Shore (Sidekick Books, 2016)
MPT: Centres of Cataclysm (Bloodaxe, 2015)
Washing Lines: A Collection of Poems (2011), Lautus Press
Oxford Poets Anthology 2007 (Carcanet)
Penguin’s Poems for Love (2009)
Penguin’s Poems for Life (2007)

Prizes and Awards
Commended in the Stephen Spender Prize (2014) 
Winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize (2012)
Shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for First Full Collection (2012)
Hawthornden Fellowship (2005)
Shortlisted for Eric Gregory Award (2003)
Second prize Keats-Shelley Award (2003)

Short Fiction
Shortlisted for Willesden Herald Prize (2008)
Shortlisted for Harpers and Queen/Orange Prize for Fiction Competition (2002)
‘Ripening Time’, The Liberal, issue 12
‘Gato Negro’, Chimera, issue 5
‘Hotel del Porto’, The Reader, issue 45

Old Man Goriot, Balzac (Penguin Classics, 2011) Translator
Poetry of Place: Paris (Eland, 2013) Contributing translator
New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008) Contributing translator

Four poems by Ariane Dreyfus, Modern Poetry in Translation (No.3, 2017)
French Renaissance poet Louise Labé, Modern Poetry in Translation (No.1, 2016)
Burmese poet Nge Nge,  Modern Poetry in Translation, (2015, No.2) Co-translator
Poems by Desnos, Eluard (French Resistance) and Louise Michel (Paris Commune), Modern Poetry in Translation, (Series 3, no. 15)
Seven poems by Jean Follain, Modern Poetry in Translation, (Series 3, no. 5)

Lyrics and Libretti
‘Gurt Dog’, on the album Death and Other Animals from Faustus, (Westpark, 2016)
Yonec, after Marie de France, composer William Lyons, for Vivien Ellis, The Dufay Collective and puppets. Work-in-progress performed at Dartington, July 2012.
ABRSM Song Books (ABRSM, 2008) Singing translations of international folk songs
Sea Voices (Editions Musicales Européennes, 2000), for Narrator, Viola da Gamba, Choir and Orchestra. Composer: Thierry Pécou.


Carcanet author page