Ryan in Best Scottish Poems

April 9, 2016

Delighted to have my poem ‘One Year the Door Will Open‘ included in this year’s Best Scottish Poems anthology, curated by the Scottish Poetry Library.

It’s a great selection from this year’s editor, Ken MacLeod, and you can read them all here.

[LineBreak] Ouyang Yu: Creative Mistakes

April 5, 2016

This month, Ryan talks to the Australian poet, Ouyang Yu. Born in China, Yu is a controversial figure within Australian literature, often exploring the dilemmas of transnational artists caught between different literary, cultural and linguistic traditions in a raw, uncompromising style that he has made his own (Yu himself refers to the ‘polished’ poem as “an arse wiped clean”). In this interview, Ryan and Ouyang discuss language barriers, mis-prints and the importance of making ‘creative mistakes’. Plus, more poetry sparks!

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

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

Commiserate — April 2016 — Tessa Berring

April 3, 2016

Take Out Now – April 2016

Tessa Berring & Ryan Van Winkle

FullSizeRender (1)Tessa says: This making of a poem was fun – the way my words came back from Ryan surrounded by or broken up by his words, how we began to develop themes and imagery, how kittens, clocks, and a body suddenly appeared when I least expected them…
Above all I enjoyed the intention to simply ‘write a poem’ together – no other motive or agenda beyond letting language emerge then pushing it to and fro to see what might happen.

Take Out Now

She thinks prayer is an empty bucket,
an empty bucket for God to fill.
But all her buckets have hairline cracks
and God leaks away with her pistol,
all gunslinger & no horse. Or maybe
prayer is more like a pistol.
Don’t load it, float it –
watch it sink, evidence
of a very simple crime.
Guns and God-slingers – oh It is easy
to close one eye, take aim. Easy,
to take two hands & make a frame.
Easy, to press my palms flat in prayer.
Harder to ask, to fill the borders, to shoot.
He thinks prayer is like solitaire –
a game decided as the shuffle ends.
He calls god a deck of cards, pushes
the chips forward – all in.
As if we could hold the unicorn,
as if we were saints,
or angels wearing holsters! –
as if we were virgins lapping
up the gods as if the gods
were poison, as if we dare to risk
the lot with a miniature lead balloon
bringing us down – sinking.
Be quiet! Prayer is a slab of ice,
a cold cabinet, a sliding door,
the mysterious outline
of a body – something sweet,
a kitten mewing at your breast,
a chocolate puppy wagging
for the stick, a six-shooter,
chamber spinning,
the click-click-bang
of Russian Roulette,
an emptiness, a clock.
A clock? Take out the clock.
Take out the clock then take
out time, take out now
and take out never, take out
before and after this happened –
then look at all the horses
still lunging through sawdust
look at the dung beetles
looking for owls.
Look at the warm grease
lathering the windows,
ice melting, the sound
of a prayer’s faint hum —
no gunshots, no burst balloons
to tell a tale.
Bio: Tessa Berring is an Edinburgh based artist and writer. She studied cultural history at Aberdeen University followed by Sculpture and Drawing at Edinburgh College of Art. Her work emerges from both an exploration of the phenomenology of objects, and a playful love of text. Her poems are published in a selection of print and on line journals, and she exhibits her curious objects/installations regularly within Scotland, and further afield.

[LineBreak] Jane Hirshfield: What Comes Through

April 2, 2016

Award-winning poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield is our guest this week. Jane reads from her work, and shares the body, heart and mind that informs her deceptively clear, attentive poetry, asking why ‘how happy we are, how unhappy we are, doesn’t matter’. And Ryan offers some more ‘poetry sparks’ to nourish your own ideas.

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

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

[LineBreak] Mark Doty: Desire

March 31, 2016

We’re starting the New Year on a high. This month, The Line Break listens in on the wonderful Mark Doty, poet and author of Deep Lane, recently nominated for the T S Eliot Prize. And back with two more poetry sparks, Ryan has you writing transcendentally about the mundane, and exploring the things you shouldn’t say.

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

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

Ryan is at Simmer, a night of poetry and flavour

March 3, 2016

Later this month I’ll be hosting a really cool event, Simmer, a night of great food and awesome poets at Edinburgh Food Studio. On Thursday 31 March, 7.30pm I’ll be hosting a show with poets Tessa Berring, Peter Mackay, MacGillivray and Vicki Feaver, pairing poets and food for your delectation. Hope to see you there.

Join us at Edinburgh Food Studio for a unique collaboration between food & poetry. 

On this very special night, we will use flavour, scent, and colour in response to some of Scotland’s most distinct voices. A delicious evening which will touch all of your senses.

Hosted by Connecticut born, Edinburgh resident Ryan Van Winkle, ‘Simmer’ pairs four poets with dishes carefully selected & prepared to illuminate and echo their work. Readings will be from Tessa Berring a poet and visual artist, Peter Mackay who writes evocatively in English and Gaelic, MacGillivray a performance artist, and Vicki Feaver shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and winner of the Forward prize for best single poem.


Tessa Berring is an Edinburgh based artist. Exhibitions include ‘Making an Appearance’, Patriothall Gallery, and ‘Mutated Stars’ at Whitespace Gallery, with Paulina Sandberg. Her work emerges from an exploration of the appearance/phenomenology of objects and often includes a written or performed poetic element. A number of her poems are published in both print and on­line journals including Magma, and the Berlin based, Leopardskin and Limes. A recent review describes Tessa Berring’s work as ”simultaneously humorous and unsettling. It subverts with credible untruths, unties what it seems to sew up, attracts and disgusts.”

Read Tessa’s poem ‘Whale

*Vicki Feaver is the author of three poetry collections: Close Relatives (Secker, 1981); The Handless Maiden (Cape, 1994), winner of the Heinemann Award and shortlisted for the Whitebread Prize; and The Book of Blood (Cape, 2006), shortlisted for the 2006 Costa Poetry Award and the Forward Prize. Her poem ‘Judith’ won the Forward Prize for the best single poem. In 1993 she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship and in 1999 a Cholmondeley Award. She is a Professor Emerita at Chichester University where she previously taught creative writing. She now lives in Dunsyre in South Lanarkshire and Leith in Edinburgh.

Hear Vicki read ‘The Gun’ and her award­winning ‘Judith’ on the Poetry Archive.

*MacGillivray has walked in a straight line with a dead wolf on her shoulders through the back streets of Vegas into the Nevada desert, eaten broken chandelier glass in a derelict East German shopping mall, headbanged in gold medieval stocks in Birmingham allotments, burnt on a sunbed wearing conquistador armour in Edinburgh’s underground city, breast­fed a Highland swan in Oxford and regurgitated red roses in Greenland. She remains clan chief.

See MacGillivray perform here and find more of her work online here.

*Pàdraig MacAoidh (Peter Mackay) is originally from the Isle of Lewis, but now lives in Edinburgh. He writes in Scottish Gaelic and English and has written one full collection of poems,

Gu Leòr / Galore, published by Acair in 2105, and a pamphlet, From Another Island, published by Clutag Press in 2010. He is also a broadcaster and lecturer; he teaches at the University of St Andrews and is BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2015. Hear him read selections of his work in Gaelic and English on Lyrikline.

The price for this one-off colourful collaboration of dinner and poetry is £35. To book email or call 0131 258 0758.

Ryan has Coffee and Poems with Shakespeare and Co.

March 2, 2016

So delighted to be in Paris reading poems, talking books and drinking coffee with the wonderful folks at Shakespeare and Co. It’s on Tuesday 15 March at 10am, there’s limited space, it’s going to be an amazing way to start your morning. Hope to see you there.

Join us for a morning of coffee and poetry with Ryan Van Winkle who will be reading from his recent collection The Good Dark, winner of the Saltire Society Scottish Poetry Book of the Year 2015.

If you’d like to pre-order a signed and personalized copy, please click here. If you would like this book dedicated to someone, please write the name in the comment box, which is available during the checkout.

The Good Dark is the place we go to remember. The Good Dark is the place we go to take account. In his atmospheric second collection, Ryan Van Winkle charts what is found when love is lost. A lyric voice that is both familiar and strangely different leads us through the shifting forests of memory and towards a grim acknowledgement of the need to get up, to be careful, to move. The Good Dark includes poems from Van Winkle’s acclaimed one-on-one poetry performance Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel (Edinburgh Fringe 2012) and cements his reputation as one of the most evocative poets writing today.

Less formal than our evening readings, coffee mornings are a chance for readers to chat with authors about their books and their craft. The café will be open as usual, with coffee and breakfast on sale throughout. We recommend you arrive early to try and get a seat as there is limited space.

‘To A Burns Night’ Published in Scotia Extremis

March 1, 2016

Really pleased to have my poem ‘To a Burns Night‘ published on the year-long poetry project Scotia Extremis, edited by Andy Jackson and Brian Johnstone. It’s published in week one, with the themes Burns Night and Up-Helly-Aa alongside Roseanne Watt, and you can read it here.

Highlight Arts at Lahore Literary Festival

February 17, 2016

We’re very excited to have three unique events at the festival featuring 16 artists from the UK and Pakistan in conversation and collaboration in Lahore. They will share newly translated poems and musical outpourings which aims to reflect the role that art plays in creating bridges between cultures.

The three events will feature: Afshan Sajjad, Jim Carruth, Dr. Khalid Javaid Jan, Katherine Sowerby, Kishwar Naheed, Gerry Cambridge, Ali Akbar Natiq and Vicki Husband reading new translations plus music from Sara Kazmi & Sarah Hayes who will play together for the first time. Storytellers Mujahid Esha and Ian Stephen will speak of legends and fables from Pakistan and Scotland with visuals and illustrations from Mehreen Fatima and Kate Leiper.

Visit our artist page to read various biographies and info about the performers and collaborators.

Exact dates and details of all the exciting events have LLF have been published by the Lahore Literature Festival.

City to City: Poetry from Glasgow to Lahore

Ali Akbar

Ali Akbar Natiq

6.15pm, 20 February — Avari Hotel, Tollington

Leading lights of Glasgow’s poetry scene along with contemporaries from Lahore will be reunited on stage for a unique evening of readings to celebrate the launch of a new anthology of Urdu & English poetry.  The poets will share translated poems & collaborations which reflect their friendships as well as the role that art plays in creating bridges between cultures.

Featuring: Afshan Sajjad, Jim Carruth, Dr. Khalid Javaid Jan, Katherine Sowerby, Kishwar Naheed, Gerry Cambridge,Ali Akbar Natiq, Vicki Husband


In partnership with The British Council and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The first leg of the project began in Lahore back in November 2014. Last year City to City  visited both London & Glasgow in the UK.

Music Cities: Songs from Glasgow and Lahore


Sarah Hayes

6.15pm, 20 February — Avari Hotel, Tollington

Join Lahore’s Sara Kazmi & Glasgow’s Sarah Hayes for an audial adventure as they explore traditional and contemporary sounds through song & stories. In this very special collaboration these musicians blend ragas with celtic folk tunes, loops, electronic effects and Punjabi poetry.

Featuring: Sara Kazmi and Sarah Hayes

In partnership with The British Council and the Edinburgh International Book Festival





Story Swap: Stories and Illustration from Scotland & Pakistan

Ian Stephen

Ian Stephen

6.15pm, 21 February — Avari Hotel, Tollington

Storytellers Ian Stephen and Mujahid Eshai share legends, lies, & fabled delights from the Scottish islands to the Pakistani mountains in a gripping evening of newly learned & freshly translated tale-telling. Close your eyes and let your imagination drift or keep them open to enjoy stunning new visuals from Mehreen Fatima andKate Leiper.

Featuring: Mujahid Esha, Mehreen Fatima, Kate Leiper and Ian Stephen

In partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Scottish Government Edinburgh Festival Expo Fund and the British Council

Ryan Chairs Sudeep Sen at the Lahore Literary Festival

February 16, 2016

This Sunday 21 February I’ll be chairing a conversation with poet Sudeep Sen at the Lahore Literary Festival, where we’ll be discussing “Midnight’s Grandchildren: South Asia’s English Poetry, Post-Independence”. It’s going to be a great talk, and I hope to see you there.

Where: Lahore Literary Festival — Avari Hotel, Tollington

When: Sunday 21 February, 6.15am-7.15pm.