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Commiserate — March, 2015 — Ross Sutherland

February 26, 2015

You Like the Sports?

Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle

 

ross arcadeross arcadeROSS SAYS: Ryan and I had a brief conversation at Hidden Door festival, about how little we both knew about sport. Sport, as it happens, is our conversational weak-spot. We hate sport, in all it’s myriad forms. When sport comes up in conversation, we have absolutely nothing to say. We decided immediately that “sport” should be the subject of a collaborative poem. Sport was neutral territory- neither writer had the upper hand. Also, we could attempt to out-do each other with increasingly bombastic platitudes. That’s how it went, back and forth, with each of us piling on the enthusiasm for a thing we cared very little about! By the end I think we nearly convinced ourself.

 

You Like the Sports?

Hey Ryan, did you catch the sports

Are you a fan of the games that were on? Will be on?

The games series. What do you think will happen

in the today sports? What team clothes are you

sporting? What game is that? Who do you support?

Fair enough but who do you support again?

Ross, I follow the pride & the haemorrhoid. I follow

the thrust & pivot & the spectacular slam.

I wear the green and white and yellow paint.

I pant. I pant so hard when we get close.

The ones with azure sashes and lego eyes? The ones with the deer teleport motif?

The ones with majority control over four lucrative heavy oil projects?

The microscopic team discovered in certain vessels of beech and maple, causing blindness?

Etc we cd go on

All the mud, all the pretty horses, all the aimed elbows, all the fluids

pouring into the ring, soaking the fields, more spit than a thousand slide

trombones, look out the marching band, and look out the widow, look out

for the hurtle, the grief, the inexplicable urge to die on the fall.

Ryan, you will experience disappointment

when the team from my local sporting area

defeats the team from your local sporting area.

We will ride mountains all the way to the goal.

We are a basket, wrapped in a goal, hidden in a hole-in-one.

We have already painted a watercolour

of us, holding aloft the Victory Cup, and it is

incredibly realistic!!

We are the Kim Jong Il of sports, Ryan. Your pitch

is our green screen

Ross, your team is a monied polyp on the anus of sport.

Our boys play for the love – not the gold, nor the cup.

Our boys run for justice, truth, the fair handed shake

and if there is a god and if he sits with Jesus at his side

they’re both cheering for us on Monday night, rain or shine.

Yes, they have been playing excellently

this season. They’ve been clinking zepplins in the top end.

They’ve been malleting horses match-after-match.

They’ve done a very very good job indeed.

But compare their record to the attic bedroom

where I’ve been crying for the last four years

and you’ll see there’s little hope- little hope

of happiness for this clan of tanned fictitious characters.

No sex at crunch time, not this Sunday.

No, they’ve been chumps and bums, crutches

and chokers all ankle biters pockets full of posies.

Take the skirt off Carl and stick the landing!

They were headless chickens, it was a bloodbath,

it was fucking Roman, it was Wednesday all over again

it was the safest bet and so, so close

A bomb went off in Sport, Ryan. Your team just happened to be

shopping for perfume in the wrong part of the mega-mall.

But let’s not mistake it for luck, noble brother. There’s no such thing as luck.

I’d rather gamble my kids inheritance on a wheelbarrow of severed limbs

than admit the possibility of chance. Blood rains from the fingers of the Gods, Ryan.

We goal by divine right of the supreme architect of sport.

But have you seen the ratings, Ross? Ever since

that sportscaster bit her, ever since the ear

incident, ever since the racist old mole,

ever since the shaving, the fixing, the gifting,

the knee smash and grab the gold, ever since

the dogs went roaring at each other’s throats,

ever since the hormones, the transfusion, the alleged fire

the collusion, the paper bags for the ring

check your papers & push your chits

my boys are doing fine.

Ryan, your sports team keeps swapping out older players

and replacing them with younger players! Did you think I wouldn’t… notice?

That somehow the football players of Nottingham Forest could still be 25 years old,

despite the fact that the team was founded in 1865?

Clearly substitutions have been made! You charlatans!

You think that sports teams can’t die? All teams die in the end!

And we will take you with us, Ryan! Screaming into the abyss,

as insects feast upon the calve muscles of a thousand hoofed open-goals!

Let the fog of death rise from the stands!

Historians will tell you that the valiant are remembered, even loved. Hearts

must be in the game. Bodies must be flung, cities razed, wave

after wave of attack. And if you can stand, arms raised in a V

and feel the warmth of your country’s flag. You will be immortal.

Sounds like loser talk to me Ryan. A profound loss. A billion year losing streak.

Townships burning in the last light of a sick century. Death threats sung like hymns.

Thank God we are sportsmen, Ryan. Thank god we are blessed with the handshake

that says “good game”. We can pretend that none of this is real.

****

 

Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. Sutherland currently works as a writer and tutor in Cambridgeshire. His last collection, Emergency Window, was published by Penned in the Margins in 2012. Ross also makes work for the stage, including Comedian Dies In The Middle Of Joke (2012) and Standby For Tape Back-Up (2014). Ross is also one of the hosts of Homework, a literary scratch night in East London.

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Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle read ‘You Like the Sports?’

commissioned by SJ Fowler for the Auld Enemies Project, 2014

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Inspired by  SJ Fowler‘s  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets to create new work, I’ve stolen the notion and begun to collaborate with friends and writers of interest. You can read about the project and see 2013’s poems here & 2014 poems here.

 

Ryan is interviewed by Alicia Sometimes

February 23, 2015

If you wanted to know my thoughts on poetry and myself, here’s an interview for the magazine Going Down Swinging with Australian writer and poet Alicia Sometimes.

Ryan at the Writers Return Series at Summerhall

February 22, 2015

This Thursday 26 February I’ll be performing alongside Alan Bissett, Anne Donovan and the inimitable William Letford at Summerhall for the Writers Return series, organised by the British Council. We’ll all be telling stories from our time spent writing our way around the world, it’s free but ticketed, it’ll be great. Hope to see you there.

Ryan and J.O. Morgan in Sonofabook

February 21, 2015

Delighted to report that the collaborative poem with J.O. Morgan, ‘All Signs’, has been published in the CB Editions magazine Sonofabook. It also includes new work from Will Eaves, Nancy Gaffield, Agota Kristof, Elizabeth Mikesch & May-Lan Tan, D. Nurkse, Dan O’Brien and Francis Ponge.

Viewmaster at Stanza Poetry Festival 2015

Just a quick reminder that Viewmaster will be live on location at StAnza Poetry Festival in just a few short days! Myself and Dan Gorman will bring words and sounds to you in person on Saturday 7 (11am-2pm; 3.30-6.30pm; 7-7.40pm) and Sunday 8 March (11am-2pm). Please do come and join us, StAnza is going to be awesome this year and we’d love to see you there.

Tickets cost an unbelievable £3, and can be booked here.

An imaginative leap to another country and a step back to the wonder of childhood. Ryan Van Winkle (poet) & Dan Gorman (sound artist) lead you on a playful, sometimes surreal, journey to a distant land in under 15 minutes. ViewMaster is more than just a performance. It is an immersive experience for an audience of one, for your eyes and ears only.

ViewMaster takes place in a specially designed set by artist Faith Eliott. You enter a child-like den reminiscent of playing in the house on rainy afternoons, before Dan and Ryan whisk you away on a unique visual-sonic-poetic journey to one of four destinations: Mecca, the River Nile, Holland or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Dan Gorman and Ryan Van Winkle have worked together on successful audio and poetic collaborations for over a decade. Van Winkle says, ‘To me, this piece is as much about the power of play and imagination as it is a rumination about getting older, dying, nostalgia and the things we build, the things we leave behind.’

‘Magical, lo-fi & quirkily poetic’ – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

‘A jewel … an immersive, dreamlike experience.’ – All Edinburgh Theatre

‘… a delicious quarter of an hour that feels like you’ve slipped into a quiet oasis.’ – The List

Book Talk: Lucy Ribchester, Elisabeth Gifford, Lucy Hughes-Hallett

February 5, 2015

In our first set of interviews for 2015, Ryan Van Winkle talks to Lucy Ribchester, Lucy Hughes-Hallett and Elizabeth Gifford about suffragettes, mythology and the fascist poet who wanted to create his own utopia.

Lucy Ribchester is the Edinburgh-based author of the recently-published The Hourglass Factory, her first novel. As well as being shortlisted for this year’s Costa Short Story Awards, Lucy is a previous recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. The Hourglass Factory tells the story of Frankie George, a young reporter who becomes entangled in the messy, passionate worlds of the circus and the suffragettes when she meets Ebony Diamond, a mesmerising trapeze artist who uses her skills to fight for votes for women. Lucy opens up to Ryan about her inspirations, the fascinating world of those early suffragettes and why it took her five years to finish the book.

Elisabeth Gifford is the author of Secrets of the Sea House, a fascinating novel which explores the interaction between history and myth. Based in the Hebrides, the book looks at the mythology of the islands and of the sea, and what happens when the two appear to come together in the form of a dark discovery. The book enjoys a very definite sense of place, and Elisabeth chats to Ryan about the culture of the Hebrides, the link between the sea and those who live by it, and the responsibility she felt in dealing with such an interesting culture. Elisabeth’s new novel Return to Fourwinds is out now.

Finally, Ryan speaks to Lucy Hughes-Hallett, a Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction winner and author of The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio, a searing biography of the man who believed he was the greatest Italian poet since Dante. The book was awarded the 2013 Costa Book Award for Biography of the Year, and the subject matter is certainly eye-opening. d’Annunzio was a creative, daredevil and fascist whose life goal was to establish a utopia based on his political and artistic ideals. Lucy talks Ryan through the intensely thrilling world of this strange man and the way his life unfolded.

Podcast contents

00:00 – 01:09 Introduction
01:10 – 13:19 Lucy Ribchester interview
13:20 – 19.08 Elisabeth Gifford interview
19:09 – 29:33 Lucy Hughes-Hallett interview

Book Talk is produced by Colin Fraser of Culture Laser Productions.

Viewmaster at StAnza Poetry Festival

February 4, 2015

Delighted to announce that Viewmaster will be live on location at StAnza Poetry Festival this year! Myself and Dan Gorman will bring words and sounds to you in person on Saturday 7 (11am-2pm; 3.30-6.30pm; 7-7.40pm) and Sunday 8 March (11am-2pm). Please do come and join us, StAnza is going to be awesome this year and we’d love to see you there.

Tickets cost an unbelievable £3, and can be booked here.

An imaginative leap to another country and a step back to the wonder of childhood. Ryan Van Winkle (poet) & Dan Gorman (sound artist) lead you on a playful, sometimes surreal, journey to a distant land in under 15 minutes. ViewMaster is more than just a performance. It is an immersive experience for an audience of one, for your eyes and ears only.

ViewMaster takes place in a specially designed set by artist Faith Eliott. You enter a child-like den reminiscent of playing in the house on rainy afternoons, before Dan and Ryan whisk you away on a unique visual-sonic-poetic journey to one of four destinations: Mecca, the River Nile, Holland or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Dan Gorman and Ryan Van Winkle have worked together on successful audio and poetic collaborations for over a decade. Van Winkle says, ‘To me, this piece is as much about the power of play and imagination as it is a rumination about getting older, dying, nostalgia and the things we build, the things we leave behind.’

‘Magical, lo-fi & quirkily poetic’ – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

‘A jewel … an immersive, dreamlike experience.’ – All Edinburgh Theatre

‘… a delicious quarter of an hour that feels like you’ve slipped into a quiet oasis.’ – The List

Colin Herd — Commiserate, Feb. 2015

January 29, 2015

It Feels As If

Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle

 

colinCOLIN SAYS: It was fun writing thickly (and less thickly) veiled love poems/letters to you Ryan! I love writing that strains impossibly trying not to say something that it is in fact saying, like when you get someone going round the houses to explain why their argument isn’t this thing but in fact this other thing and you can barely tell the difference between them other than this tiny semantic nuance, if even that. This exchange was kind of the opposite of that, where there is an enormous effort to couch what you are saying behind a whole sequence of smoke and mirrors. Speaking of which, when we were about to read this in the pub in Aberdeen, and I was making a brief introduction that these were based on the homoerotic love letters of King James VI, the poet nick-e melville piped up and said: “I thought you were going to say Kim Jong Il”…. that might be something to try next time. (And I hope there will be tons of next times.)

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It Feels as If

Dear Ryan,

You ceilidh so woolly that I do not enquire after your heat and ask if you maintain the stay-at-home. Of you. Be in no doubt. In a tinge, a tinkle. A horsewhip.

Dear Colin

I must beg to differ. I blew that stallion off my back and now there are wrinkles around my eyes, even when there is no bright white sun. Perhaps I misunderstand your query.

Dear Ryan

When it is your will, perhaps I will be accustomed to your actuaries more intimately. Hearty then for myself, and flattering my falcons for wont that I will know from all the assertions of your benchmark the discretions and vindications I seek. The aqualung as always requires no epicure and the surname no sun.

Dear Colin

It is a flexible instrument us men have inherited. It is amazing how much punishment we can take, almost without protest. They say I cough blood only because I laugh too much. And yet, I am neither victim, nor survivor – I have not suffered and this will not cease with a foot in the mouth nor a mere finger in the pie. I am too tired to look for another hole in the ground. Play the piano for me, play the one about the rolling heather.

Dear Ryan

I am conscious that these are early eunuchs. Perhaps our collision will always occupy only the earliest but in precedent perhaps more rather than less endeavour of our mutual prophecies is required. I want it to be known that in all mazes except of heaving hearts I am profoundly easily swayed and that only in one ratcheted nozzle do I dissuade myself, uncompromised. Make that one ratcheted novelette. It feels as if.

Dear Colin

The brains of my brothers are as empty as the underpants of a eunuch. I put my hands in but I always feel like I’m rummaging around for something that isn’t quite there. Did I tell you that I’ve seen the sea again. The sea was impersonal and didn’t care. Maybe it was a dream, I don’t know, everything happens so much. One feels as if, indeed.

Dear Ryan

Your agreement on such matters makes my bosom swell. I think there may have been a mnemonic but no matter now, attention shifts like sands. Are we listened to yet? And if not by the sea by some other force. I am afraid to tell anyone of my dessert.

Dear Colin

My ears are yours, should the postboy take them. Mine eyes as well, should I manage to find that runcible spoon. Last I remember, we were having a picnic. Youngberries, cherries, currants. And my confession – I am no picnic myself.

Dear Ryan

He has seized now an orange shroud and nudges his resin towards me. My tobacco remains deaf-mute but the walls can make something or other out. It’s churlish to avoid unreeling this particular cassette: on a purplish roster, he bade me thank his chasm! I swore, I’d never appear in any such anthology and, fizzling to consult, I can earnestly say that prevented him. But for how long?

Dear Colin

Your mementos will turn to dust, the picture postcards, your spanish braids shall untagle and what will you be left with? Your flaxen locks? Your silver coin eyes? We must hold true north and remain vulnerable to everything. Who is not temporal, flesh?

Dear Ryan

I regret that cruisy tone. But what meteorites are contained in even the simplest struck match?! Your reward for keeping my conscience is something I cannot sufficiently commend. Let me at least say this: indeed I do not think the tongue at all creditable either to mandrills or woodpeckers, and (though you will not believe me) I very often feel ashamed of it myself.

Good Colin

I cannot live any longer not knowing what will happen tomorrow. Pray tell, look into your tea leaves. I can toy with this eye-wrecking lace work no longer. Tell me the fate of Atlantis, tell me of Troy and the horse. What was it like inside the dark body – all those swords, those torsos next to torsos, those chosen men breathing quiet as they could?

Dear Ryan,

I have had it with my femur! What may seem to some an interactive irrelevancy is in fact to me an irritant. A flea-pit felony if you really want know. But I will pick myself up and narrow the scope. You’re asking about tomorrow? It’s surely dominated by the smallest of sunbathers quivering from the warmth of. You know what warmth and you know how irrepressible its draw. Those tiny bathers. A nappy banquet. It’s not too tragi-comic.

Dear Colin

It is impossible to stop wanting to repeat ourselves. And yet we make each word anew. As if no man had ever spoken it before. This is the hard part.

Dear Ryan,

Hard as in rocky? Solid? Iron-hearted? Impenetrable? Packed? So I understand. To avoid a debacle, embrace summings-up. Perhaps we should betray our fitter selfishisms and motley underpinnings, but can I speak from the heart? thus?, desires. I believe my words will no longer hold and as it stands: you hang a fish from a hook, it will untangle itself, depending on the brainpower of the fish. It’s a stroll in the park for me.

Dear Colin

Sometimes the vein runs so dry, I don’t have a word to say. If there was a line between my mind and your ear, I would trespass it. Perhaps, as always, the best answer is: ‘it depends’. Perhaps I will have a full dream tonight and there will be more to say in the morning.

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Colin Herd was born in Stirling in 1985 and now lives in Edinburgh. He is a poet, fiction writer and critic. His first collection of poems “too ok” was published by BlazeVOX in 2011. A pamphlet, “like”, was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2011 and a second full-length collection ‘Glovebox’, was published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press in 2013. He has published over 60 reviews and articles on art and literature in publications including Aesthetica Magazine, 3:AM Magazine, PN:Review and The Independent. He has read and performed his work widely, including at Rich Mix Arts Centre, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Gay’s the Word Bookshop, Edinburgh University, Lancaster University and The Edinburgh International Book Festival. In 2014, ‘Glovebox’ was highly commended in the Forward Prizes.

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Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle read ‘I Feel As If’

 

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Inspired by  SJ Fowler‘s  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets to create new work, I’ve stolen the notion and begun to collaborate with friends and writers of interest. You can read about the project and see 2013’s poems here & 2014 poems here.

Ryan is in fourfold

January 15, 2015

A collaborative piece between SJ Fowler, nick-e melville, Colin Herd, Ross Sutherland and myself has been published as part of the FourFold project. The poem is called ‘The Auld Fold’, and there is a photograph of the finished article big enough to read right here.

Ryan supports Supermoon and Rally & Broad

January 12, 2015

Next Friday, 23 January, I will be participating in not one, but TWO great nights out in Edinburgh, supporting the launch of Supermoon, the band ‘rising from the ashes of Meursault’, and reading a collaborative piece with Rachel McCrum at the January edition of Rally & Broad, which is headlined by the outstanding performance poet Francesca Beard in a rare Scottish appearance.

These are both going to be amazing shows, both of which cost an unbelievably economical five pounds, both of which will change your life in small but indelible ways. Hope to see you at one or maybe even both!

What: Launch of Supermoon

Where: Henry’s Cellar Bar, 8 Morrison Street, Edinburgh

When: Friday 23 January, doors at 7pm

How Much: £5

 

What: Rally & Broad: The Apology Shop

Where: The Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh

When: Friday 23 January, doors at 7.30pm

How Much: £5

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