An award-winning poet with 20 years of experience writing, performing and editing poetry, Ricky Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. He is author of Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), a finalist for the Best Book Award, and the founding editor of Rascal: A Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art. His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, the Fortnight Poetry Prize, and a Whisper River Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies, including The American Scholar, The Matador Review, Amaryllis, Scintilla and Fugue.
Pulitzer laureate Claudia Emerson lauded his work for its “inventiveness, lyricism and mystery,” and said, “I like the way he plays with memory and finally catches memory off its guard.” MacArthur Fellow Eleanor Wilner cited his “wonderfully protean imagination, one thing turning into another, everything loaning life and motion to the next.” Best American Poetry editor David Lehman praised his “marvelous verse-making skill” and said “the breath of his utterances is remarkable.”
Regarding Fealty, poet and essayist Jenny Boully called it a “very necessary living being of a book” and caught the spirit of the work by its tail when she said, “the self shifts; the self inhabits other selves; the spirit can possess and be possessed.” Leonard Schwartz, host of the radio show Cross-Cultural Poetics, called it “a celebration of the most extreme fragilities of the body and the planet.” And poet Natalie Eilbert offered, “this book is the sermon we need after hours, when life’s sorrow overtakes our vision.”
Ricky has performed in various high-profile venues in New York City, including the Bowery Poetry Club and The Public Theater, and has appeared alongside such luminaries as Saul Williams and John Forte. A disabled poet and mystic, he lives in Harlem with his wife, three cats, and a Labradetter. Their bed is frequently overcrowded.