Ben Ray uses modern events, in this case decimalisation, to develop parallels in modern poetry, especially within the second stanza when he harks back to the old coinage/sounds. Yet the new ‘decimalised’ generation of poets, with their crisp and new words, often find older poems did have a symbolic naturalness. When re-read, they often produce a nagging nostalgia when looked at now in this Brexit era. – Torbay Poetry Festival, on Ben’s award-winning poem ‘The day they decimalised the words’
Ben has visited us twice, and both occasions will live long in the memory. All of us being poetry enthusiasts, our best hope is to be a good audience – and that, for those few hours, is what Ben made us. He did that wonderful thing for an audience – did it constantly – he surprised us, so we were always on the edge of our seats, not knowing where the language would take us but loving the journey. It felt as though the words had a life of their own and from the first line took off and we had no idea where they would land. As an audience of poetry lovers – plus some who thought that they were ‘not too keen on poetry’ but found grounds to think again – it was just a delight from start to finish. – John Livesey, founder and director of the Mitcheldean Poetry Festival
Ben is a natural teacher and was very engaging. He managed to create so many opportunities for the students to write, compose and create their own poetry, and considering they’d all just finished their GCSEs, it was wonderful to see their insights and creativity coming out. Ben was able to connect with the students on a very personal level, and it was wonderful to see Ben’s passion for poetry inspiring the class. We can’t wait to get him back again! – Isha Wheeler, Head of English at Wynstones, a Waldorf Steiner School
What the students most enjoyed, I think, was that this was a young man, not much older than them, who had an engaging, open manner. There was a lovely informal atmosphere, which meant they could ask questions and share their own thoughts. The most satisfying outcome for the college was that immediately after the reading, two students came up and said they wanted to start a poetry society! Fabulous! – Lesley Bagshaw, English teacher at Hereford Sixth Form
Really appreciated Ben’s oversight on poems I’m preparing for magazine submission: some thoughtful ideas on punctuation and a keen understanding of what makes a poem work on different levels. Cheers Ben. – Vicky Hampton, poet
I heartily agree with the writer himself and cannot enthusiastically praise his work enough! Let me say that his ability to communicate through his poetry is so incredibly effective for readers of any age that I use his book to teach poetry to my students, ages 12 to 18. I read his work to inspire me in my writing, as well! – Bill Stevenson, teacher
Ben is always entertaining and thought provoking – and has a wonderful connection with local landscape which I think is rare in such a young poet. – Clare West, librarian
It was wonderful to see a young poet engaging with our teenagers. Poetry is just what they need! – Alexander Murrel, Physics teacher at Wynstones, a Waldorf Steiner School
students and audience members
- Wonderful, very natural and enigmatic young poet who is destined for greater things.
- Great evening Ben. Thank you for the thought provoking and entertaining content, and the warm and engaging delivery.
- Accessible, interesting, beautiful.
- Outstanding as a poet and communicator with the audience. It is marvellous to see and hear how has developed his style, depth and wit. Largest audience yet in our library – such is his drawer already. More to come – hooray.
- Ben has a lively, fresh informal approach but the poems he presents are thoughtful, illuminating and beautifully crafted. An excellent event.
- Warm and welcoming atmosphere, Q&A much appreciated.
- A great talent the link between history and poetry is fascinating. A genuine and careful voice.
- Great crowd for a wonderful poet.
- Really excellent thanks Ben. Your poetry is at once simple, funny warm and insightful.
- Fascinating, entertaining, uplifting, joyous.
- His work was fresh, appealing and erudite.
- Ben was excellent I look forward to buying his next book.
- this guy is too talented not to be a sell out.
- Ben’s poems were mesmerising, covering a huge range of topics from the familiar to the completely unknown. Regardless of the subject matter, we were instantly transported to the world he had created, and became completely immersed in the vibrant imagery, the rhythm and the mood of the piece. These magical voyages of the imagination on which he took us will stay with us for a long time to come.
- I saw Siegfried Sassoon read his work at Oxford in the 1960s – you perform poetry far better than him!
- Ben really inspired me to think of poetry not just in an analytical way for GCSEs. – NC, Class 10 Wynstones student
- Ben was great – really friendly and helpful! – CB, Class 10 Wynstones student
- It was really inspiring… it freed me up to think about poetry in a new way. – BES, Class 10 Wynstones student
- Ben inspired me to write the most awesome poem ever! – Anon, Class 10 Wynstones student
- Cool dude! – Anon, Class 10 Wynstones student
- Really inspiring! – JC, Class 10 Wynstones student
- Loved it! Great workshop, and great poetry – thanks! – RG, Class 9 Wynstones student
- Poetry’s so cool! – LB, Class 9 Wynstones student