Beginner's Pluck: poet Bebe Ashley - 'Find a niche you love and run with it.'

Beginner's Pluck: poet Bebe Ashley - 'Find a niche you love and run with it.'

Bebe Ashley

Poetry is the form Bebe has always loved.

“I’m interested in language and in what poetry can do,” she says.

English, Bebe moved to Belfast to take an MA, and has stayed ever since.

“I love it here. There is such a vibrant arts scene; there’s always something going on,” Bebe says.

Her debut collection, which ‘spins gold’ from the internet, was inspired by an album Bebe came across when, ill, she spent 100 hours in bed.

“I became fascinated by Harry Styles. I loved the cadence of his voice and his vocabulary,” Bebe says. “He’s fun. He’s generous; and he writes poetry. And I love that he brings you into a community of people. You can feel the warmth across the world.”

Thanks to an arts scholarship, she attended a gala exhibition in New York and a cultural exchange at the University of Jordan and met other poets and writers.

She’d like to become a sign-writing interpreter.

“But I’m a few years away from qualifying,” she says.

Who is Bebe Ashley?

Date/place of birth: 1995/
Bedfordshire, England

Education: Harlington Upper School; University of Exeter, Liberal Arts — creative writing and proficiency in French; Queens University, Belfast, master’s in poetry, and currently an AHRC-funded PhD in sign-language poetry.

Home: Belfast.

Family: Parents and one sister.

The day job: “I’ve had a million jobs,” she jokes. “I now work in Queens’s University Biomedical Library.”

In another life: I would love to be a polyglot and speak many languages. I’m trying to learn Danish.”

Favourite writers: Rebecca Solnit; Nina Mingya Powles; Leike Marsman; Alexander Chee.

Second book: “I’d love to write a swimming and cycling memoir and call it Surf and Turf.”

Top tip: “Find a niche you love and run with it.”


Twitter: @bebeashley95

The Debut

Gold Light Shining (Banshee Press, €10.00)

Inspired mostly by Harry Styles, these lush, dizzyingly diverse poems scan across the world and the emotions.

“Whilst these are best read whilst listening to Harry Styles, my ideal reader doesn’t know who he is, but enjoys the collection anyway,” Bebe says.

The verdict: A highly original collection from an exciting new voice.

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