Bebe Ashley

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 24th February 2021

Bebe had always written, and although she didn’t consciously decide to write poetry, it’s the form she’s always loved.

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

English, and brought up in England, 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.”

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. 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.”

Bebe connected with other enthusiasts when, thanks to an Arts Scholarship, she attended a Gala Exhibition in New York. She met others whilst on a Cultural Exchange at the University of Jordan.

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 of birth: 1995 in Bedfordshire.

Education: Harlington Upper School; University of Exeter, Liberal Arts – Creative writing and Proficiency in French; Queens University, Belfast, Masters 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 Novel: “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.”

Website; 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.”

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


Published in The Irish Examiner on 24th October.

© Sue J Leonard. 2020.

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