The inimitable Charlie Byrne
I’m very much looking forward to participating in this month’s Over the Edge writers’ gathering. It takes place this Saturday at 6pm in Charlie Byrne’s bookshop, which is surely one of the best places to browse in all of Ireland.
The evening features myself, Maeve O’Sullivan and Anna McCarthy. I’m delighted to see that the late, great Tom Duddy -philosopher and poet- will be represented by members of his family on the night. They’ll read from his posthumously published collection entitled The Years. If you’re in the Galway area come check it out.
I’m delighted to that see my collection The Architect’s Dream of Winter has been reviewed in the inaugural edition of Trumpet, the new quarterly pamphlet from Poetry Ireland. The reviewer Nessa O’Mahony has this to say:
[Ramsell] has always shown acute awareness of how techonology can blur the boundary between freedom and enslavement; his first book, Complicated Pleasures, targeted Google and credit checks as part of an environment where the menace comes from ‘powerful men in offices pressing buttons’. The opening poem of The Architect’s Dream of Winter takes this sense of dystopia to a new level, as if we humans have now become hooked up into a Matrix-like system of USB ports and machines (‘Secure Server’). And although in that same poem he advises us to ‘Relax’, relaxation is impossible in the frenetically charged world where the word ‘machine’ recurs constantly and where ‘desires will pulse / in never-stinting traffic through its veins (‘Cortex’). ‘All was subtraction’ as he states in the poem ‘Memory House’.
Ramsell is terrifically good at capturing the music and syntax of this new ecosystem; there is an echo of Langston Hughes’s ‘The Weary Blues’ in ‘Repetitive Beats’ with its syncopated rhythms of a rock festival.
Hughes also resonates through poems like ‘Lament for Esbjorn Svensson’ – ‘the heating creaking the key of A, he fridge voicing / the same two notes in perpetuity’, but there’s always Ramsell’s light and rigorously 21st-century touch to bring it smack up to date. But at the root of this collection is Ramsell’s constant belief that human connection is the only thing that will save us in a world with ‘the jazz-men gone / and all the bank machines empty’.
I am extremely grateful for these kind remarks and indeed for reviews in general. It’s always great to hear a book ‘echo’ in some fashion, to receive some engaged and thoughtful acknowledgement if the thing’s existence, especially as in this case when it’s from an artist whose work I’ve long admired.