Item description for Complicated Pleasures by Billy Ramsell...
BILLY RAMSELL was born in Cork in 1977 and educated at the North Monastery and UCC. He began writng seriously in 2000 when he moved to Barcelona. In 2005 he was shortlisted for a Hennessy award and his poems have appeared in various publications. He lives in Cork where he co-runs an eduational publishing company. The poems in Complicated Pleasures exist on the border between the personal and the political, combining delicately lyrical meditations on love, art and memory with darker works that confront full-on the pressures and uncertainties of an urban globalised world. Wide in range, diverse and energetic in their forms, these poems seek to strike a balance between expression and exploration. They attempt to stake out a 'personal space' in a violent world of systems, machines and twenty-four hour surveillance where privacy, language and even memory itself are under permanent threat. Complicated Pleasures is a first collection of considerable daring and undeniable accomplishment
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.4" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.4" Weight: 0.25 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2007
Publisher Dedalus Press
ISBN 1904556752 ISBN13 9781904556756
Availability 86 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 12:32.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Complicated Pleasures?
Complicated Pleasures but Easy Reading Jan 11, 2008
The most pulsatingly relevant Irish first collection for decades! At last an emotive and political Irish collection that has risen above the overbearingly historical questions that have seen us casting about, even in bogs, for something to heal age-old wounds. This may be the first collection of truly urban poetry to come from Ireland's second city. Whether it's the treadmills of "Middle Distance", the psychometric testing of "Creative Problem Solving" or the "Chinese girl sprinting in her Subway uniform" of "Breaking Even" Ramsell charts the Irish people's self-conscious jostling with the spoils of its, now tamed, Celtic Tiger. Surveillance is an important theme of the collection. Ramsell examines how emotions and pleasures such as love and friendship can survive the darker side of a national psyche grown fat on the mochas, lattes and "identity theft" of an economic transformation that has become a model for the global business community. He takes us from the close intimacies and affections of a time before the boom to the "Pornography" and "insidious jingle of the breakfast show" of "Black Noise". He takes us from Lower Basin Street and a kid taking aim "over and over again at a sodden election poster" with his hurley and sliotar to the exhibitions of "photographic self-portraits by a big-titted Swede" in Dame Street and to the "junkies [who] squirmed out like grubs from the tower-blocks" in Veronica Guerin's inner city Dublin. He takes us from the beautifully naturalistic depiction of a lone otter "slick with river slime/ A shape/ Made of dark Lee water" to the voice of the poet himself, in the majestic "Breath", peering into that same water, this "mussicating, stout-black Lee", as his own disorientated "hungover world/ tilts another few degrees" so that he "can't resist wanting to stain this silence" with the hunger for expression stealing over his body: "...and whatever lines I shape with this breath/ will scramble in air/ like those greedy, hunting gulls/ and circle your beauty/ but never alight perfectly on you".
Ramsell's poetry in being, at times, as in "El Raval" and "From Mutton Lane", formally challenging, never sacrifices itself to the linguistic self-indulgence of a Joyce (Trevor) or to the pomo masquerades of a latter-day Muldoon. Here, there is a shapely authenticity pervading the "complicated pleasures" of an urban Ireland where even, as in the poignant "Gabriel'S Waltz", the young are in danger as there are "barbarians/ that lurk behind bushes,/ at the head of the classroom,/ like wraiths down back alleyways,/ and behind neighbourly faces". Ramsell's poetry looks to the future not to the past. The threat of surveillance is everpresent, extending to the womb, where, in "Scan", even the first stirrings of life from "[t]he waves of ultrasound/ [that] probe the womb you float in" become "an image of Baghdad from the night-bombing,/ briefed on in Centcom,/ snapped by a priceless bird set roaming/ in fluid geosynchronous ovals". The dowsing of a young child's toes in the shallow shore waters, in "Eve", (perhaps a sardonic throwback to the old leery Yeatsian cares for Iseult) as we are told that "[t]o your tiny ears my words make no more sense/ than static, or management-babble,/ or out-of-tune Chinese" also becomes enmeshed in a linguistic trajectory that "joins this ice-water lapping our ankles,/ with the rain that greases the hungry dors/ and stains the grey graffitied gables/ and rusts the car-skeletons/ in the tenement estates/ of Moyross and Knocknaheeny./ that connects these shallows we jink and high-step through/ with the haze rising from the look-out towers/ of the silos rusting in Kazakhstan/ manned by underpaid Asiatic soldiers (of whom I am one)/ in hand-me-down Soviet regalia".
Ramsell's first collection is an important collection for a disorientated people who are struggling to deal with an economic, political and cultural transformation that may have arrived as quickly as it is soon to depart. Despite the fear-mongering and the justified illumination of the dangers to personhood and intimacy brought about by surveillance and economic prosperity, Ramsell's journey is also a poetic transformation. One feels that the voice of the poet has needed to divest itself of a wealth of "black noise" in order to find its own hope for the future. The final poem of the collection, "After Words", returns us to Cork and to the "hubbub of the clubbers/ disgorged into Hanover Street", the girls "keening theatrically" and the "check-shirted boys". As the voice listens "for the rage in their brittle hilarity". This "city of stains", imagined in all its squalor against Prague or a lover's body, is still enough to return the voice of the poet to the "unblemished" "empty page", an imaginary trek we can only hope that will lead this poet to fill more of them.