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Southern Crossings Tour Diary – Sunday, 23 August – Day 1

August 25, 2015

Changi Airport – Singapore: 18.04

It is a common thing, before a big trip, for people to ask – ‘are you excited for Australia?’

My response is always the same, ‘No. But I will be when I get there.’ I don’t tend to ‘look forward’ in that way, to dream of how good something or someplace will be. I don’t check the weather. I do not buy a Lonely Planet.

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Managing Expectations @ Changi Airport

I’m sure I’m not the only one who manages expectations in this way. Surely there are people who won’t read reviews before seeing the film.

However, my friends David Stavanger & Annie Te Whiu (co-directors of this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival) suggested I write a blog, maybe telling people how excited I am to be part of the Scottish cohort heading to QPF this year.

Well, as I said, I don’t get excited before things but I’m 99% sure to be excitedly drinking with them after the gig. And, honestly, performance artist MacGillivray & my old friend William Letford have consistently delivered performances which live inside me. It is a semi-eclectic bill – the three of us – but one that speaks to the programmers’ attraction to poems which are crafted and can exist on the page but also to poets who know how to read and perform their work, who are willing to collaborate & experiment with music, noise, voice to create something unique for the live audience. Together, we’re going to try to do that.

18.23 – Poets are the new whalers

Being in this airport so far from both my Scottish & American homes reminds me of something Jane Hirshfield once quipped to me – ‘poets are the new whalers’ – she emailed as we kept almost being in the same city at the same time a few years back.

There’s not much money or fame in our line of work but man, she was right, some of us lucky ones get to criss-cross the globe. I’ve been to Lebanon & Iraq with Letford, seen David Stavanger in Edinburgh, St Andrews and Brisbane and after this jaunt MacGillivray is flying straight to LA for more gigs.

The worrying thought occurs that maybe we’re not the whalers but the whales. Or maybe the great poem is the whale, the impossible, illusive, destructive thing that we (as writers) chase along with audiences (as readers) – both of us Ahab. Manically, scanning the seas for that brilliant white one.

18.45 – I Never Really Left

I sat down with a Laksa soup and realized I still had my Edinburgh International Book Festival lanyard in my back pocket.

Laksa & Lanyard

Laksa & Lanyard

I think I’ll keep it with me as I go from the Melbourne Writers Festival to the Queensland Poetry Festival. It will remind me of the conversations had in Edinburgh with Mexican poets & writers, with critics, with Sami & Inuit poets, with author musicians like John Darnielle and almost certainly the threads will continue, a global conversation, a global village.

Some Threads in My Head

— The visiting Mexican poet Monica de la Torre said that writing the poem is as important as the poem, that the act of writing is a learning process, that she doesn’t know what she wants to say when she starts and the act of writing is the act of discovery (paraphrasing from memory here, sorry Monica). It was a heartening idea to hear articulated in front of a crowd and I wonder, if I like the writers who have a process which is similar to mine,  who are not making an argument but are charting a journey to an argument? And is that fair to the writers who don’t write that way — who start with an argument and work towards it?

— Would intellectualsnob.com be a good website? Am I an intellectual snob? Or, as the writer & critic Stuart Kelly said, do I believe in an ‘elitism for all’? 

— Is performance poetry / slam poetry / spoken word a capitalist construct because it monitizes poetry via crowd pleasing activities? (as suggested in The Guardian comments section, here) Or, more generously, is it populist and speaking to ‘the people’?

— David Stavanger, Mr Ghostboy, who himself straddles the twin stallions of both page poetry & spoken word will have something to say about this, no doubt. It is reflected in his programming & of course in his work of which there is much I admire. I surprise myself by sincerely looking forward to that conversation. I suspect he will say what I know deep down — that good is good & bad is bad and labels, like flags, are stupid.

— I think to myself, ‘Language does more than order a cup of coffee. Language does more than ‘communicate’ on the most obvious level. Language does more than say, ‘2 dollars fifty cents, thank you’. The visiting Mexican poet, Gabriela Jauregui, said something along the lines that poetry / language diverts the ‘transactional’, and also that poetry can overcome the language of (what she called) ‘necrocapitalism’ in Mexico.

 — Jessie Kleeman pushed language far out in her hypnotic & moving Jura Unbound performance as part of Highlight Arts‘ ‘Head North, My Friend‘. At one point she asked, ‘what will we do without dogs when the ice melts? Build factories to turn them into food?’ Ouch.

— Highlight Arts‘ ‘Head North, My Friend‘ took place on the day President Obama gave permission for Shell to drill in the Arctic.

— This classic clip from Orson Welles’ The Third Man has been going around my head thanks to the visiting Mexican journalist Juan Villoro.

 

— Does making art require suffering, violence, blood? If you had the choice, would you want to be Switzerland or Italy? I was glad I got to ask that of John Darnielle &  Gavin Extence who both have suffered & seen suffering first hand.

 

 

18.55 – I Better Go Now

I think my flight is boarding and this airport is big. I’m also mildly curious about ‘how to become a Changhi Airport Millionaire’ – would that be a millionaire only in the confines of this airport. Like The Terminal but with Donald Trump as Tom Hanks?

I’ll be performing with William Letford & MacGillivary at The Toff in Town, Melbourne. Wednesday 26 August
We’ll be joining the Queensland Poetry Festival on Thursday the 27th. Check the listings here.
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With grateful acknowledgement to Creative Scotland for financial assistance.
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The Good Dark at Edinburgh International Book Festival – Interviews

August 10, 2015

On Friday 21 August I’ll be joining poet Jonathan Edwards (My Family and Other Superheroes) at the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre for poems and chat at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’ll be reading from my second collection, The Good Dark, and you can find some interviews I did about it below. Hope to see you there!

The Good Dark — Interviews

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been writing an awful lot about myself & about the process of making the The Good Dark. You can read these conversations in full but, to save you time, I’ve taken my favorite quotes out of context below.
You can buy a book from Penned in the Margins & you’ll find me reading at the  Edinburgh International Book Festival on 21 August at 20.45. I’ll also be in Australia at the end of August. 
 
Penned in the Margins 

“Fundamental, beautiful or total menace.”

The Poetry School

“So, I tend to apologise.”

Scottish Book Trust

“I do miss reporting and think it can be truly meaningful, truly impactful in a way which poetry and fiction just can’t be.”

Scottish Poetry Library

“…man, this beach is useless.”

3AM

“Are you threatening me?”

Inpress Books

“Aliens and hoverboards…”

Shakespeare & Company

“I still have a little of that in me, the feeling that some days I’d be better off packing up for Australia.”

The Ofi Press

“I’m still trying to figure out how much I can cut him up without killing him.”

Missing Slate

“When I write a poem, I’m not trying to entertain, I’m trying to be honest.”

Sabotage Reviews

“I’m afraid of scales.”

The Good Dark at Edinburgh International Book Festival – Reviews

August 9, 2015

On Friday 21 August I’ll be joining poet Jonathan Edwards (My Family and Other Superheroes) at the Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre for poems and chat at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’ll be reading from my second collection, The Good Dark, reviews of which you can find below. Hope to see you there!

The Good Dark — Reviews

So far, reviews of The Good Dark have been kind. If you’d like to hear me read in person, you can catch me at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 21 August at 20.45.

‘(The Good Dark) moves between stabbing pain, deep melancholy and cautious optimism, always with the same gentle touch.’ — The Skinny

‘Channelling Bob Dylan at his trippy, visionary best…’ — The Scotsman

‘…the poetry of loss in The Good Dark, particularly loss of love, is not bitter or recriminatory, but a kind of analysis, a recognition of one’s own failure, even a manner of apology.’ — Dave Coates

Buy a copy from Penned in the Margins, or find it wherever you buy your books. 

[LineBreak] Mary Ruefle: Get Lost

August 7, 2015

For our third episode, Ryan talks to the American poet Mary Ruefle about finding the joy in the solitary act of writing poetry, the need to talk to yourself, and we hear Mary read from a selection of her incredibly distinctive work. And there’s more poetry sparks for you to try out, re-working found text with Tippex, and getting lost in language.

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

This episode is produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser with thanks to the Scottish Poetry Library for their support.

Ryan at Head North, My Friend!

August 6, 2015

Delighted to be hosting the Highlight Arts event Head North, My Friend at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s at 9pm, Wednesday 19 August, in the Charlotte Square Spiegeltent. Hope to see you there!

Head North, My Friend!

In this special event Highlight Arctic celebrates the culture of the High North at a time when the region is experiencing enormous and rapid transition. Join us for words, music and stories from: Sami poet and musician Niillas Holmberg, Icelandic crime-writer Ragnar Jonasson and the Inuit poet and-live artist Jessie Kleemann.Plus, Shetlandic poet Christine De Luca will read new translations specially commissioned by the EIBF and DJ Aikio will provide the aural beats.

Bar, dancing and smiles also guaranteed.

Wednesday 19th August
21:00
Jura Unbound @ Edinburgh International Book Festival
Spiegeltent, Charlotte Street Gardens
Free Entry (no tickets required)

Further Info via Skinny Magazine

Highlight Arctic  Festival (Jan/Feb 2016)

As ice caps melt and sea-levels rise, we feel it is high time to shine a light on the Arctic – a region that has become one of the world’s major international economic battlegrounds. Highlight Arctic festival 2015 will be a collaboration with artists who live and work in the High North in order to celebrate the culture and significance of the region.

Ryan reading at Second Space

July 30, 2015

Really chuffed to be reading at Second Space with a whole host of great poets and performers. It’s on next Friday 7 August, 8-10pm at the Safari Lounge, 21 Cadzow Place, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh. Should be an awesome night, hope to see you there.

Featuring:

nick-e melville
rodney relax
jl williams
jess hopkins
will lorimer
craig gun
ryan van winkle
iain morrison
graeme smith
anne laure coxam
jane goldman
annie higgen
kate tough
katy hastie
ed smith
calum rodger
rob mckenzie
janette ayachi
tessa berring
mike saunders
emilia weber
tom betteridge

Kwame Dawes: This Is Our Heart

July 17, 2015

This month on The Line Break, Ryan re-visits an interview with poet and journalist Kwame Dawes and discusses the challenges of writing poetry about often painful world events, and how to find beauty, happiness and truth in the ‘cesspools of experience’ that follow. And Ryan sets out more of his ‘poetry sparks’, including how to write a blues poem.

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

This episode is produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser with thanks to the Scottish Poetry Library for their support.

Ryan goes on tour in Australia

July 16, 2015

Really excited to be heading back to Australia this August to perform at both the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Queensland Poetry Festival. I’ll be touring with the fantastic performance artist and poet MacGillivray (The Last Wolf of Scotland) and the poetic dynamo that is William Letford (Bevel) Here’s the itinerary:

MELBOURNE — one night only
Wed 26th August Brave New Voices @ MWF, The Toff in Town. 6.30-8.30pm
Spoken word  / poetry salon, featuring Ryan Van Winkle, MacGillivray, William Letford plus David Stavanger, Richard Grantham and CR Avery (Canada).
BRISBANE — for Queensland Poetry Festival
Thurs 27th August The New Braves @ Satellite QPF, Studio 188 Ipswich. 7-9pm
Spoken word  / poetry salon featuring Ryan Van Winkle, MacGillivray, William Letford, plus Cameron Logan (local poet).
Sat 29th August The New Braves @ QPF, Judith Wright Main Theatre. 5-6pm
Spoken word  / poetry performance session featuring Ryan Van Winkle, MacGillivray, William Letford.
Sun 30th August Short Form Book Club @ QPF, Judith Wright Shopfront. 12-1pm
Ryan Van Winkle will be a panelist as four poets discuss a poem or short fiction work.
Sun 30th August Pleasure & Pain @ QPF, Judith Wright Main Theatre. 1.30-2.30pm
Performance and reading session. MacGillivray plus special guests.
If you’re in either Melbourne or Brisbane at the end of August, it would be amazing to see you there.

Ryan and Jonathan Edwards at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

June 27, 2015

Delighted to be performing alongside the 2014 Costa Prizewinner Jonathan Edwards at this year’s EIBF. We’ll be reading in the Bailie Gifford Corner Theatre on Friday 21 August at 8.45pm. Hope you can join us for good poems and good cheer, and some very politely broken rules.

POETS WHO BREAK THE RULES

Sophia Loren, Marty McFly and a bicycling nun are just three of the characters who populate Jonathan Edwards’ poems in My Family and Other Superheroes, a collection that won the Welsh poet the Costa Prize for Poetry in 2014. Ryan Van Winkle, the US-born, Edinburgh-based poet’s second collection The Good Dark includes some of the poems he performed in a much-admired one-on-one Fringe show in 2012.

Ryan reads at Shoreline of Infinity Launch

June 19, 2015

scifi posterDelighted to announce I’ll be reading at the launch of a new science fiction magazine from Scotland, Shoreline of Infinity, edited by friend and poet Russell Jones. It will feature new fiction, art, articles and reviews, and will have both a digital and old timey paper edition. It’s on Thursday 2 July from 7.30pm, at Paradise Palms, 41 Lothian Street, near the Edinburgh University campus. Hope to see you there!

It’s a night of science fiction performances, with music from Painted Ocean, poetry from Claire Askew and Ryan Van Winkle, story reading from the magazine performed by Debbie Cannon, plus SF inspired artwork, cocktails, books, fun, frivolity and photon cannons.

Free entry. Costumes welcomed. Live long and preposterously.

2nd July 2015 at the wonderful Paradise Palms, Edinburgh, starts 7.30pm

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