Out for Air

Olly Todd


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Penned in the Margins
16 May 2022
ISBN: 9781913850074
77 pages

From the publisher

Out for Air is the exhilarating first collection of poetry by former professional skateboarder Olly Todd.

Infused with movement, surprise and play, Out for Air presents a unique vision of the built environment, celebrating places where ‘the bridges are endless / beyond the cantilever / of reality’. Each poem is its own event: expansive in scope but intricate in form, a masterclass in precision engineering.

Todd rewires T. S. Eliot’s Waste Land in his strange, compelling descriptions of the modern city: melting asphalt; a U-turning taxi; a diner swallowed by a sinkhole. In this disorientating landscape the skateboarder-poet is genius loci, the spirit of the place. From Manhattan’s ‘silky streets’ and the Pacific Coast Highway to inner-city London and his native Cumbria, together these poems record a life lived on the move, in motion, on the cusp of things.

Olly Todd makes rare, richly idiomatic music from the rubble of the pop metropolis. He approaches the built environment through drift and detour, finding hidden lines of desire and happenstance. When I read Todd’s poems I feel more a part of the world. This is a tender, transformative, elemental book.
Sam Buchan-Watts

Out for Air is an inventive and alluring debut, in which the early evening sun lights up the soaring, exhilarating miles of road and sky between the north of England and the USA. With shades of Kleinzahler and Eliot, these poems explore angles and movement, friendship and distance, in a voice that is graceful and genuinely original.
Martha Sprackland

Out for Air creates a world of familiarity gone strange, a world of signs of the human in motion, where the living in place becomes its constant study. It makes a hard-to-pin-down language which is all its own, and which mirrors its subjects’ international scope, its playful, sometimes arch, worldview, and which announces a wholly original voice.
Will Burns

Through Olly Todd’s words a whole world and potential opens up, a distillation of experience that feels universal and intimate.
Nick Jensen

I’m dazzled by this wonderful debut. Todd writes with a tangible physicality, solid as a curb, so that the language itself crunches, glides, grinds. A radically different way of experiencing the built and natural environment and an endlessly engaging, witty, serious and astute new voice.
Luke Kennard