Julie-ann Rowell was born in Devon. She graduated from Reading University with a degree in Sociology in 1983 before moving to London, then Newbury, and working as a technical editor. In 2000 she returned to Devon, and currently works as a writer. teacher and editor. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and for three years was editorial assistant on the Irish Studies Review journal based at Bath. She is a prize-winning poet and fiction writer.
'The unity of Rowell's poems inheres partly in her Irish landscapes, and partly in the vivid sense impressions through which she renders them. Her images and perceptions are frequently arresting: a crab whose 'verdigris carapace casts him in bronze', 'the fishing boat/giving itself a little shake, like a dog after swimming', 'These poems can help us to see things as if for the first time. They are also, often uncomfortably perceptive, revealing the disparity between ideal vision and painful reality.'
'Engaging narratives, bright with insights, Rowell's poems have an accomplished lyricism which subtly takes hold and refuses to let the reader go.'
A beguiling mixture of undramatic telling and unswerving observation, the poems build into a travelogue through Ireland where imagined lives spill out of every chance encounter. The penultimate poem, St Stephens Green, ends with the narrator giving up her vigil in the park to enter the world of the normal traveller, the hotel foyer, hiding her hands. This could be an image of how the collection works as a whole, moving in and out of strangeness, tucking the poetic self-consciously out of sight.
Sian Hughes, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
'There is no doubting the strength of sensitivity behind these poems. To use Rowells own phrase, Letters North leaves a white thumbprint in memory.
Letters North is a fine collection. Positioning the self in relation to place, and memory, Rowell presents a world where events and objects are both vividly realised in their own right and a means of connecting with others across time and space. The letters of the title refer to more than just the title sequence; Rowell writes poems that are urgent communications, forging a shared present with the reader.