Bebe Ashley

(1995 - Present)

Northern Irish poet Bebe Ashley grew up in Bedfordshire, England. She received her B.A. in creative writing and French from the University of Exeter before moving to Belfast to attend Queen’s University. She earned her M.A. in poetry and enjoyed Northern Ireland so much that she stayed, eventually moving to rural Country Down. She was an Arts Humanities Research Council–funded PhD student at the Seamus Heaney Centre, where she now works as a clerical officer.

Ashley’s debut collection, Gold Light Shining, was published in 2020 by Banshee Press. Her work has been published in journals including Granta, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review, Gutter, bath magg, and Modern Poetry in Translation. Ashley is the recipient of a Chair of Ireland Poetry Trust Award and a Creative Practitioner Bursary from Belfast City Council. In 2023, she won the Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Experiment for Text. She has also been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the National Poetry Competition.

Ashley represented Northern Ireland at the 2022 British Council Literature Seminar in Berlin. She was also one of ten poets commissioned by Poetry as Commemoration to write archives-inspired poems relating to the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War. Ashley received a Digital Evolution Award for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Future Screens NI supporting her ongoing work on Confetti, a multi-part project exploring the poetic potential of Braille and 3D printing. 3D-printed Braille poems from Confetti appear in an exhibition at the Museum of Literature Ireland that began in February of 2024.

A qualified British Sign Language interpreter, Ashley was the 2022 writer-in-residence for Belfast Book Festival. Ashley’s creative interests include language, translation, and using her work to address blind and partially sighted people’s limited access to the arts. Her second poetry collection is forthcoming in 2025.


More Bebe Ashley

Text/Audio: Read "Give Me a Lifetime of Promises" by Ashley at bath magg

Video: Ashley reads "The Lookout" for Poetry as Commemoration

Video: Ashley reads poems from Gold Light Shining at the Ulster Museum


Photo by Matthew Thompson.