WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Ben Ray is a successful young poet from the Welsh Borders.

His work has been published in various local journals and newspapers.


Ben was previously Herefordshire Young Poet Laureate, and currently publishes a small poetry pamphlet in Oxford University, where he studies History.


As well as running various poetry and writing workshops for local schools and charities he takes part in the SevenVoices project, showcasing creative talent from around his university, and has been shortlisted for the 2016 Martin Starkie Poetry Award.


Ben has read with Carol Ann Duffy and other eminent poets on the Shore to Shore Tour, Monmouth.


‘After the Poet, the Bar’ is his first published collection of work.











Cover art by DAVID DAY




138 x 216mm


54 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-18-3



PUB:  26th AUGUST 2016










" ‘One sip, and I fall down the spout of the teapot of my past.’ Falling into the poems in Ben Ray’s engrossing debut collection allows the reader to enter a world of such brilliantly arresting images.

Ray is a poet who is closely in touch with landscape, producing delicate descriptions of the day he wakes to find ‘the house wrapped/Gently, tenderly in cotton wool,’ or the way ‘The hill wears the road like a belt…Stretching the tarmac…over the bloated land.’ He’s particularly interested in the intersection between the natural and the modern: in ‘New Landscapes,’ a tender love poem, he plans ‘to roll the skyline up,/Pack up the card-deck of hills and valleys/And bring them to you,’ but only knows he can do so because he’s ‘sure the car is big enough.’ Ray’s writing is particularly powerful in poems where he writes to a loved one, enhancing the natural tenderness of his work. There’s a lyrical minimalism about some of the short poems in the collection which reminds me of the work of the great Daniel Huws but, just as Ray is interested in combining the natural with the modern, so his delicate music broadens in places to forms that are almost performative. Here is a wide-ranging and distinctive poet who has already marked out his territory

– a writer to watch."

Jonathan Edwards

Winner Costa Poetry Prize


“These poems reveal a canny understanding of life and language - and the landscapes that give rise to them, from northern no-man's-lands to the circuitous paths of the Pacific island exile. In this engaging first collection, Ben Ray has built a fascinating 'future library of shades' ('Autumn Winds') which will haunt the reader long after the book has been closed.”

Nancy Campbell

Writer Artist Poet


“Touching, heartfelt, disarming; Ben Ray’s poetry rings like music, chimes of place, quavers in passing time — and lets one feel the world anew.”

Rory MacLean

Award-winning Travel Writer


After the Poet, the Bar

Ben Ray


Ben Ray author photo Dick Rays image website only

Painting by Dick Ray (Ben's grandfather)




Rain Clouds over Edinburgh


There is a moment,

just before the beginning,

where the light slides up the walls

to avoid oncoming traffic

and is draped boldly over buildings

until it is one bright, burning canvas

with house fronts sketched loosely on

ready to be washed away

by the incoming ending.

There is a moment,

as the very air breathes slowly in

and the darkness of the sky above

accentuates the bright aliveness below –

and the whole unfurls lily-like

begging for the sky’s caresses.

There is a moment,

just before the world collapses inwards,

on all the corbels, the towers,

the rooftops, the doorways,

the pub fronts, the bus stops,

the cobbles, the church spires,

the gnarled and twisted trees

that lean on the fences of Tron Kirk:

when all the world undresses

and waits for the wash of the rain.





Night Walking for Wild Beasts


It is the kind of tree-infested black that lives

in the sluggish, silted seabed of your mind.

The footsteps I leave on the dark sink back in

like a palimpsest on the inside of my eyelid.

Ahead, the waterlogged path dives away

shining in the reflections of the moon,

a silver thread waiting for a Theseus to follow.

Not me. I tread on, hoof slipping as if reluctant

to obey orders. Even the lack of noise is black.

The sides of nothing pushing, matting on my fur,

a dense emptiness somehow shrinking to smother you.

Open claustrophobia. I can sense it behind me.

Then, suddenly, a hole in the world,

night retreating to reveal the stars in a puddle.

I gaze at the distance reflected up at me

and feel the weight of the horns on my head.




Back to Pen and Paper


Letters, my love, I have longed for your dulcet tones

like a lemming dreams of Dover Cliffs.

How I tingle for your alphabetical arms

around my waist, rising, tightening round my neck;

your soft, sesquipedalian murmurings

have transmogrified me into a placid masochist

injecting injunctions and sniffing sentences.

Your allure and aphorisms

aid my attacks of alliteration addiction.

Ours is not the love of the tabloid journalist,

hacking and bending you to fit his large-print pleasure,

no, nor that of the politician, twisting you cruelly,

or the religious preacher, the primary school teacher,

the early-language learner, the Mills & Boon churner:

they let your fire expire on some bookish back-burner.

They do not feel your glorious anthropomorphic abuse,

your unstoppable, drowning murmurings, that I sense

Like ink in my skin as I sink, poisoned veins of verse.

I smile, willing myself under.

Now, perhaps, I can breathe.

Autumn Winds


First day of October (any October, you choose):

down by the church, an Act of God,

the tiniest localised apocalypse the world

(or maybe the village) has ever seen.

Trees float off into the ether

so light are they now their leaves have fallen,

plastering the ground to create a future library

of shades, scuff-marks and skeletons.

Pluck an October (it doesn’t matter which),

bringing the trailing nip of cold

nagging like a shopping list you left at home

dragging the wellies out and the spiders in

exchanging one brief clock-change-lie-in for evening darkness

and the ever predictable start of bloody Christmas shopping.

Pick an October (any October, go on),

they’re all the same to me

there’s nothing I can do, I can’t stop

                                                           those leaves

                                                                              from falling




After the Poet, the Bar


We talk the candle into submission

and then swap breaths over its dying cough.

And if we spat out poetry like phlegm

and extinguished the small light with our voices

we can leave knowing that we have just lit another.

This collection was a joint winner of The Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize 2015 with





Purchase both winning collections and save £4.00