Richard O'Brien was born in Peterborough in 1990, and has lived in Oxford and Nantes, France. His work has featured in Oxford Poetry, Poetry London, The Salt Book of Younger Poets and The Best British Poetry 2013. He is working on a PhD on Shakespeare and the development of verse drama at the University of Birmingham.
His first pamphlet, your own devices, was published by tall-lighthouse press in 2009, as part of the Pilot series for British and Irish poets under 30. A second pamphlet, The Emmores, was published in early 2014 by the Emma Press. His third pamphlet, A Bloody Mess, was co-published by Valley Press and Dead Ink in December 2014.
Richard O'Brien's third pamphlet, A Bloody Mess is a collection of poems written between 2009 and 2013, many of them in dialogue with literary and cultural history, considering how we inherit and interpret our written and social past. There are two poems riffing off John Donne's 'The Flea', a poem about a photograph of the penis of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, and poems responding (somewhat belatedly) to the Great Fire of London and the death of Prince Henry, son of James I.
A Bloody Mess was co-published by Valley Press and Dead Ink under our 'Ink Lines' imprint, hence the alternative logo on the cover. A Kindle version is available from Dead Ink here.
'We all know people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Richard O'Brien is a poet wearing his on his shirt, jumper and jacket all at the same time. He channels the hopeless, reckless energy of the unsatisfied lover through tightly formal poems informed by literary history but coloured by twenty-first century young adulthood. Man of a Million Metaphors, O'Brien writes his hearts broken, battered, kidnapped and ransomed, and sets them racing with close encounters at the blood-donor clinic, the carpark and the campsite. On and on they beat, as yours will too, in sympathetic resonance.'
— Julia Bird
'Richard O'Brien is one of the strongest poets of his generation. He's fiercely intelligent but smart enough, within these poems, to abandon pure intellect for love and for beauty. He manages to make the love poem feel fresh, and direct statements such as 'grass will heal more easily than skin' seem to break through mere 'poetry' and into somewhere else entirely. This is a clever, beguiling and dynamic collection; smart enough to wear its learning lightly.'
— Andrew McMillan
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