Brushstokes of Poetry at Books Upstairs



I’m delighted to be reading for the first time in Dublin’s Books Upstairs Wednesday11th of October at 7pm. All the more so as it’s an event organised by the irreplaceable Dalkey Archive Press, at which fine American poet Jacob Miller will read from his new collection.

Here’s what’s in store:

Dive into two of the best-kept secrets from the world of poetry and join Dalkey Archive press for a reading with Billy Ramsell and Jacob Miller at Books Upstairs, Dublin on the 11th of October at 7 p.m.

The American poet Jacob Miller will read from his collection Lines From A Canvass that explores experiences of love and loss, isolation and separation as well as mortality, while building bridges between classical and modern traditions.

The Irish poet Billy Ramsell will share some of his poems on the border between the personal and the political, delicately combining lyrical meditations on love, art and memory with the pressures, uncertainties and alienation of a globalised world.

Get your tickets here!


iYeats Competition Results 2017

The 2017 winner of the iYeats International Poetry Competition is poet Tammy Armstrong, of Nova Scotia, Canada, for her poem ‘The Varying Hare’. As judges Jessica Traynor and I put it in our brief citation: ‘This is a special poem, one that manages to combine depth of ambition with deftness in execution, rendering, with enviable clarity, a crepuscular, fog-tinted milieu. Its uncanny, depopulated landscape is one readers are unlikely to forget as it leaves us ‘wrong edged’ and ‘thicket-blind’, lingering, despite ourselves, in the ‘animal time’ it so vividly conjures’.


Tammy Armstrong’s publications include four poetry collections and two novels. She has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, short-listed for the CBC Literary Prize, and the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. She also holds a PhD in English literature and Critical Animal Studies from the University of New Brunswick, and served as a 2011-2012 Canada-U.S. Fulbright Scholar. She now lives in a lobster fishing village, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

The emerging winner for poets of 16-25 years of age is Cynthia Miller, Birmingham U.K. with her work ‘The Last Hour on the Flight Deck’. In our citation Jessica and I declared how “this stood out for us as an ambitious poem full of surprising and well-rendered details. From the air stewardesses who ‘arch their feet inside boxy heels’ to the dusk which ‘siphons lavender shadows across the room’, this is a poem which explores distance and dislocation through vivid, intimate imagery.”


Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet and brand strategist living in Birmingham, U.K. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and her poetry has been published in Primers Volume 2, The Emma Press Anthology of Love and Under the Radar magazine. She is also Co-Director of Verve, Birmingham’s inaugural poetry and spoken word festival, and part of Room 204, Writing West Midlands’ development programme for emerging writers.

It was a pleasure to judge this competition with Jessica. The standard was high and competition intense… My heartiest congratulations to the winners!





Phonica: Six at Smock Alley Theatre on 17th of July

Phonica 6_Webpage PORTRAIT_with text
Phonica, curated since early 2016 by Christodoulos Makris and Olesya Zdorovetska, is a poetry and music series with an emphasis on multiformity and the experimental.  This is a series that explores compositional and performative ideas, encouraging a melting pot of audiences and artists from across various artforms.

I’m delighted to feature in the sixth iteration of the event, which takes place next Monday at 7.30pm in Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre.

Phonica: Six will feature performances from a host of trailblazing and award-winning Irish and international writers, musicians and artists working in the realms of new and electroacoustic music, contemporary poetry, installation and audio-visual composition,

Also appearing on the night will be:

Flautist Lina Andonovska who has collaborated and performed with Crash Ensemble (Ireland), Australian Chamber Orchestra, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), s t a r g a z e, Southern Cross Soloists (Aus) and eighth blackbird (USA). Critically acclaimed for her interpretation of new music, Rolling Stone Magazine hailed her performance at Bang on a Can Summer Festival as “superbly played”.

Jessica Foley who works as a writer, dramaturge and audio-visual artist and whose  work is often generated collaboratively and performed through improvisation, choreography and audio-visual compositions and staging.  

The IRIDE PROJECT, who  investigate nondeterministic electroacoustic music and soundemphasis poetry making use of conventional and unconventional instruments, piezoelectric transducers, field recordings, electronics, and spoken word.

Claire Potter, an artist writer from Merseyside, works with live, published and recorded text, installation and performance. 

Nazgul Shukaeva was born in Kazakhstan, and is a vocalist and performer of contemporary classical, jazz and improvised music, combining the ancient technique of throat singing “kai” with modern elements, creating something previously inaudible and invisible.

Tickets for this unique event are available here!

Judging the iYeats Competition


There’s still time to enter this year’s iYeats competition, which I’m delighted to be judging with Jessica Traynor.

The competition is open to all those who are sixteen years of age and upwards. There is an award of €500 for the winner of the General Category and €300 is awarded to the winner of the Emerging Category for those aged between 16-25 years of age. The awards will be presented in a ceremony at the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo, during the Yeats Summer School.

The closing date for entries is Friday the 30th June, at 5pm. Entries can be uploaded here.

Poetry File on RTE Lyric FM


I’m delighted to feature this morning on Poetry File, a new feature on Liz Nolan’s storied Lyric Notes programme.

I was happy read my poem ‘Sound’ and describe its origins during a stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Anngahmakerrig.

The slot, which will air each  Thursday at 11 am, was devised by the singular Eithne Hand and is supported by Poetry Ireland.

Poetry File kicked off last week, on national poetry day, and will continue to feature some fine poetic talent over the coming weeks and months.

Here’s a wonderful short video describing the series. My thanks to all involved for the invitation to contribute.

Vancouver Writers Fest


I’m delighted to be reading this coming weekend at the Vancouver Writers Fest among many, many fine authors and performers.

I’m performing next Friday at the Literary Cabaret along with Alexander Chee, Anosh Irani, Susan Perly, Iain Reid and Madeleine Thien. We’ll be ably accompanied by Sal Ferreras and his band Poetic Licence, in a truly spontaneous cabaret performance.

Then on Sarurday I’m at the Poetry Bash along with Sharon Olds, Soraya Peerbaye, Roberto Ascalon, Liz Howard and Christopher Merrill.

This is a trip I’m very much looking froward to. My thanks to all at VWF for making this happen and to Culture Ireland for their support.








Post Crash Literature in Hong Kong




A highlight of my trip was reading in the Irish consulate at an evening of poetry, music and whiskey. Here I’m pictured with the consul himself, the legendary Peter Ryan. My thanks to Peter, Caitríona and his team for such a memorable evening.

It was a pleasure to read at last month’s Post-Crash Irish Literature and Culture conference in Hong Kong. This was an event dedicated to exploring the emergence of the new wave of Irish literary culture in the wake of 2008’s economic collapse and subsequent recovery. Though of course this theme proved a mere jumping off point for an exhilarating and free-wheeling debate on Irish culture and society.

It was an honour to participate along side keynote speakers Eugene O’Brien and Anne Mulhall, as well as scholars like Hedwig Schwall, Amy Burnside and Clara Dawson. And of course my fellow poets Trevor Joyce, Dimitris Lyacos, Ailbhe Ni Ghearbhuigh and Nicholas Wong.

The conference’s cross current argument and ideas proved exhilarating and energising. I was surprised and delighted at how easily the ‘creative’ and ‘critical’ readings flowed int one and another over the course of the weekend. Equally impressive was the work being done on the Irish canon in both Hong Kong and mainland China, as exhibited by scholars like Jenny Kwok, Irene Chan and Chen Li.

All participants, I’m sure, returned from Hong Kong filled with inspiration. My thanks to organisers Robert Kiely, Emily Ridge and especially Michael O’Sullivan.


European Literature Nights: London and Edinburgh

It was a privilege to participate in London’s recent European Literature Festival, and at its Edinburgh offshoot. And what a pleasure to journey between those cities in the company of poets from Russia, Turkey, Italy, Cyprus, Scotland and Iceland. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to ‘fly the Irish flag’ amid the 19 other countries involved; my thanks to the organisers of both events and to Culture Ireland for their generous assistance with my travel to these events.



Poets at European Lit Fest Edinburgh


Poets at European Lit Fest London


European Literature Night In Edinburgh


I’m delighted to participate in European Literature Night 2016 on behalf of UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature. Curated by The Enemies Project, along with Colin Herd and Theodora Danek, it takes place on Friday 13th of May in two venues across that beautiful city:

5pm – 6.30pm at North Edinburgh Arts Centre

8pm-10.30pm at Summerhall – Red Lecture Theatre

Both events are free but pre-booking is advised to catch the following stellar international line-up:

Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir (Iceland), Nurduran Duman (Turkey), Billy Ramsell (Ireland), Alessandro Burbank (Italy), Alexander Filyuta (Russia / Germany), Christdoulos Makris (Ireland / Cyprus), Efe Duyan (Turkey),Martin Bakero (France) & Tomica Bajsic (Croatia).

It’s a privilege to be part of this event, and I’m grateful to Culture Ireland for facilitating my involvement.





London’s European Poetry Night


I’m delighted to participate in London’s first ever European Poetry Night as part of European Literature Festival in 2016. Curated by the inimitable, indefatigable SJ Fowler,  the event will feature 20 poets – from Iceland to Turkey, from Ireland to Russia, from France to Slovakia- sharing brand new collaborative poems, premiered on the night and written for the occasion, in pairs, across languages, styles & nations.

It all happens in the Rich Mix Theatre, on Saturday 14th of May at 7.30pm. A must for all London-based literature fans!


Featuring (subject to change)
Vanni Bianconi (Switzerland) & Billy Ramsell (Ireland)
Alessandro Burbank (Italy) & Alexander Filyuta (Russia / Germany)
Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir (Iceland) & SJ Fowler (UK)
Ulrike Ulrich (Switzerland) & Jen Calleja (UK / Malta)
Nurduran Duman (Turkey) & Jonathan Morley (UK)
Christodoulos Makris (Ireland / Cyprus) & Martin Bakero (France)
Tomica Bajsic (Croatia) & Colin Herd (Scotland)
Ghareeb Iskander (UK) & Ahsan Akbar (UK)
Ariadne Radi Cor (Italy) & Iris Colomb (France)
Ana Seferovic (Serbia) & Agnieszka Studzinka (Poland)
Rufo Quintavalle (UK / France) & Ian Monk (UK / France)
Niillas Holmberg (Sami) & Peter Sulej (Slovakia)
Efe Duyan (Turkey) & Livia Franchini (Italy)