Billy Ramsell was born in Cork in 1977 and educated at the North Monastery and UCC. He was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary for 2013 and has been shortlisted for several other prizes. He edits the Irish section of the Poetry International website and in 2013 judged the Strong Shine award for best first collection by an Irish poet. He has been invited to read his work at many festivals and literary events around the world. He has published two collections with Dedalus Press, Complicated Pleasures in 2007 and The Architect’s Dream of Winter in 2013. He lives in Cork where he co-runs an educational publishing company.
Ramsell is of a younger generation which finds many of the established themes of Irish poetry thoroughly exhausted. Technically, Ramsell’s long loose lines would be a comfortable fit with contemporary American mainstream poetic practice. In the Irish tradition, where ideas of what can constitute a technically good poem have been shaped by a hegemony of conservative academics for decades, Ramsell’s forms are an affront to the decorum of a poetic old order.
Yet no matter how hard Ramsell may intend to stray from overt expressions of Irishness, a sense of Irish place often asserts itself in his work, organically, unforced. Encounters with nature in Ramsell’s work such as in ‘An Otter’ are more likely to happen on an urban quayside than in the rural ditch or bog of tradition. The increased urbanisation of Ireland and the peculiar alienation that goes with it (rural life, especially in a depopulated countryside, produces an already well-documented form of alienation) is reflected in its new literature; it is an alienation often accompanied by material wealth and a poverty of the spirit as in Ramsell’s poem ‘Gated Community’.
The Architect’s Dream of Winter was shortlisted for the 2014 Irish Times Poetry Now Award, a prize presented annually to the author of the best collection of poems in English published by an Irish poet in the previous year.
Complicated Pleasures, Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2007
The Architect’s Dream of Winter, Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2013
Billy Ramsell’s homepage
Billy Ramsell’s page, with links, on the Munster Literature Centre website
Dedalus Press page for Ramsell
‘Breath’, another poem