shortlisted for the
Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2014
A world of machines, machine management and communication is at the heart of Cork-born poet Billy Ramsell's second collection of poems. From credit card point-of-sale devices to personal music players, from mobile phones and cardiac supports, the world is seen as enabled, criss-crossed and perhaps even bound by digital signals that between them comprise a new life force on the planet and one we have scarcely even begun to comprehend.
"Billy Ramsell's second collection of poetry has been crafted with a steely and implacable patience. What The Architect's Dream of Winter does is to detail and chronicle an extraordinary time in our history - a digital revolution no less, and how it impacts on an individual consciousness - the architect of the title perhaps - with a technical bravura, which is at the same time wry, poignant, and fabulously rich in its various lyric texture."
— Paul Perry
"Billy Ramsell is one of the younger poets who has most fruitfully brought into Ireland the best influences of a British generation including Don Paterson, Michael Donaghy and Ian Duhig – formal sophistication allied to natural spoken idiom, an appetite for the minutiae of contemporary life as eclectic as Paul Muldoon, and an unforced, often witty merging of the public with the intimate. In coming years, he should have much to give to an Irish tradition he has already helped to expand."
— Harry Clifton
"Billy Ramsell is a poet who finds beauty even in the midst of one of the ironic winters a human heart has known. Why? Because he knows how to sing.This book is an inventive, piercing work.”
— Ilya Kaminsky
"Billy Ramsell's latest collection crosses into the digital landscape to recognize our interior selves, to reclaim that which is human within the synapse of machine, the terabyte of memory. Elegiac, mythic, formally inventive, and more, the poems in this volume span from the circuit board to the cosmos and, all the while, remain focused on the human heart".
— Brian Turner
"The Architect's Dream of Winter quietly asserts Ramsell's position at the very fore of contemporary Irish poetry: a staggering book and a game-changer. Superlatives cannot do it justice."
— Cal Doyle in Southword
"'Lyric poems spring from moments of disequilibrium: something has happened to disturb the status quo', writes Helen Vendler. Indeed, Ramsell's poems are full of restless searching, pondering the actions and stakes of our technological revolution. Where one might expect a sort of anti-lyric (after all, computer jargon isn't known for its lyric qualities), Ramsell's exploration is highly musical, punctuated by modified traditional lyric forms. The poems feel decidedly voiced, with moments of poignant tenderness derived from the poet's life"
— Maya Catherine Popa in Poetry
"...[the collection] offers something new in Irish writing as it takes our wired, online world as its starting point."
— John McAuliffe in The Irish Times
"Billy Ramsell is a poet of light and silences. That light might as often be a 'laptop's glow', the 'lilac machine light' of a hospital respirator, or the flickering of a Point of Sale device as it is the natural 'buttery sunlight of late morning'... But Ramsell is no less a latter-day Romantic for that. His finger is on the technological pulse, but his poems long for simplicity and self–erasure — 'the dream of winter' that continually threatens the formal architecture of this, his second, collection ... As versions go, The Architect's Dream of Winter is a confident upgrade of Ramsell's promising first collection, Complicated Pleasures; and it bodes well for those to come. "
— Alex Runchman in The Stinging Fly
"Billy Ramsell is shortlisted for his accomplished second collection, The Architect's Dream of Winter, a lyrical and sustained work which finds a fluent, memorable language for the new bedrock of our lives, technology. "
— Katie Donovan in her Citation for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award
"The Architect's Dream of Winter is the Irish slim volume retooled as a sequel to Blade Runner......Ramsell's affection for medium-length to-longer poems on musical and hedonistic themes may owe something to Alan Gillis, of this parish, and has the effect of pushing his work into unusual, lyric-stretching shapes. The Architect's Dream of Winter is very much a mischief-making collection. It has vigorous humour, independent spirit and narrative brio — an impressive combination, by any standards. Non-Irish readers curious about what's going on in the Republic, press 'refresh' now."
— David Wheatley in The Edinburgh Review
"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... Ramsell is terrifically good at capturing the music and syntax of this new ecosystem.... 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"
— Nessa O'Mahony in Poetry Ireland's Trumpet
"The architect's dream of winter is an impossible one, as is any dream of transcendence and of pure spirit or information or movement. It seems a timely insight, earned after a challenging journey and quest, from a poet who is reinventing contemporary poetry's ability to explain and mine our hybrid world"
— Graham Allen in The Penny Dreadful
"Command of the subject matter and wide use of its peculiar vocabulary and imagery are very much in evidence. I wondered, perhaps, like a software product, how many versions of each poem were written until the glitches were ironed out? The collection, in keeping with the individual poems, is meticulously stitched together. There is clever patterning and mirroring -like some kind of source code- that runs through the volume...[But] beyond the themes and structures it is the richness and originality of the language that ultimately carries the poems"
— Tom Lavelle in Skylight 47
"Billy Ramsell's second collection has been six years in the making. The poet's methodical approach is reflected in a book that feels thematically coherent from the outset; almost like a concept album. .. This is an immersive collection, one that teaches you its language before ejecting you, leaving you with a heightened awareness (or perhaps suspicion) of the world in which we live...There is a weariness to the humanity in Ramsell's poems, but it endures nonetheless. This book is essential reading for those ready and willing to risk a clear-eyed engagement with our world as it is, and as it may be in the future. "
— Jessica Traynor in Colony Journal
"Irish poets need not feel that they must only look abroad for models of innovation. Indeed, Ramsell now provides one version of it himself".
— Michael S. Bengal in The Burning Bush
" Ramsell maps the suddenly wired, suddenly wide, world in which we find ourselves. His native Cork and the people he loves are to be in these poems, surely, but now we apprehend even the closest world with digital assistance... Ramsell's poems offer a meditation on mortality through the intersections of music, machines, and memory—an intersection that draws close to longing."
— James S. Rogers in New Hibernia Review
"A consistently strong themed collection is tough ask. It's tough because you are expecting a lot of your reader to stay with you from the first few poems to the last. And not since Greg Delanty's The Hellbox have I read such a faultlessly woven group until I got my hands on Billy Ramsell's latest collection from Dedalus Press; each poem speaking to the reader, coaxing replies such as "Yes, I'm guilty of that" or "I've been there too, Billy." ...This book is a honest eye cast over the world we now inhabit, and perhaps an alarming prophecy."
Click to purchase The Architect's Dream of Winter at the Dedalus Press website
"In his debut collection, Billy Ramsell charts the challenges and complicated pleasures of loving relationships in a distinctly modern, urban environment in which, though details of our lives announce themselves in bills and junk mail, questions of identity and purpose continue to haunt us.
Wide in range, diverse and energetic in their forms, the poems seek to strike a balance between confession and exploration. By times tender and embracing, unafraid of the necessary giving into love, the poems also manageto be clear-eyed about the facts of the world around them: "You have eleven laughs / and seven scents / and I know them like a language. / But what will it matter when the bombs start to fall / that you could never love me?"
Complicated Pleasures is a first collection of considerable daring and undeniable accomplishment.'
—The Dedalus Press
Click to purchase Complicated Pleasures at the Dedalus Press website