An award-winning poet, critic, essayist and editor, Ricky Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. He is the author of the full-length collection Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), a finalist for the American Book Fest’s Best Book Award and the Julie Suk Award, and the forthcoming chapbooks The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020) and Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020). He is 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, a Liam Rector fellowship and a Zoeglossia fellowship, among others. His poems have appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies, including The American Scholar, Verse Daily, Diode Poetry Journal and The Moth. He lives on the outskirts of the Hudson Valley, where he can be found hobbling in the old green hills with his old brown dog, Addie.
Pulitzer laureate Claudia Emerson lauded his work for its “inventiveness, lyricism and mystery,” admiring “the way he plays with memory and finally catches memory off its guard.” MacArthur Fellow Eleanor Wilner praised his “wonderfully protean imagination, one thing turning into another, everything loaning life and motion to the next.” Best American Poetry editor David Lehman commended 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.”