Ryan Comperes the Highlight Arts Launch

September 30, 2014

This Thursday 2 October I’ll have the great pleasure of hosting and introducing a night of poetry, music and cinema to launch Highlight Arts, the organisation formerly known as Reel Festivals. The line-up is outstanding, including Golan Haji coming all the way from Syria, doors are at 7.30pm, tickets are free but do book in advance.

Join us for the launch of HIGHLIGHT ARTS.

FREE EVENT with international music, poetry and film, featuring:
- Shooglenifty
- Golan Haji (Syria)
- Krystelle Bamford
- Emily Ballou
- Kaela Rowan
- DJ Dolphin Boy
- Short films from Iraq, Syria and more…
- Complimentary food and drink

Thursday October 2nd 2014
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Start: 7.30pm

Tickets are FREE but limited to 4 per person – available via website or box office.
Tel: 0131 556 9579

Event details:

The team behind Reel Festivals (Reel Syria, Reel Iraq and Reel Afghanistan), would like to invite you to join us in ushering in a new era as ‘Reel’ becomes ‘Highlight Arts’ (

Featuring a hand-picked selection of international music, poetry and film from Reel’s ground-breaking projects past, present and a with a nod to what’s in store for the future.

Just announced: Syrian poet and author Golan Haji will be flying in for the event and will be involved in some poetry translations.

What: Highlight Arts Launch

Where: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43 High Street, Edinburgh

When: Thursday 2 October, 7.30pm

How Much: FREE.

Commiserate October: nick-e melville

October 2014 — nick-e melville — complaintnick-e melville

nick-e says: This poem started as a conversation about complaint letters. As a found poet, I am very interested in subverting bureaucratic language in various ways: the replies to Ryan’s complaints provided the source material for my contribution to our collaboration. I focused on, and extracted lines which demonstrated, the banal, the inane and the ridiculous; not unlike Ryan’s initial complaints…

Ryan says: I like to complain. I was probably complaining about something when we got the idea to do this poem. I knew nick-e does work with found and officious texts and I hoped he’d find something worthwhile in the letters I’d sent out to cinemas, airlines, and phone companies over the years. Maybe I hadn’t wasted my time writing and grumbling down the phone.




Not long now

until you’re off

on your travels

It is your responsibility to check with the airline

that any onward flights you have confirmed

are operating as booked

This is an automatic notification email that cannot accept in-coming mail


For a long time

this is a how I thought

a person should be

phone melting

in the crook

of her shoulder

tea boiling and manager

manager I want to speak

manager manager let me finish

manager manager you’re not listening


Document prepared for customer

Status Confirmed (x8 potentially)




You have yet to purchase a Multiflex pass.

It may not be too late!

paper or E?

Names correct & spelt back phonetically

Travelling on US passport


from a country belonging

BA 1440 O 26NOV 2 LHREDI HK1 1145 1310 26NOV E BA/NOSYNC


if I had a sunday

i would get on the phone

i would set my teeth right

i learned words like automaton

pusillanimous – i could have loved

could have whisked eggs

and fluffed pancakes, i could

have made the bed, or even

called a taxi, why not where

did we want to go. but that person

was not a person i could be. not

with my father’s tie in the closet

my mother’s cord still wet in my mouth.

for a long time

i couldn’t pick a fight

with my own wife

but i could heat up a phone

crack a rotten egg down the line.


your recent travel experience with US

Your comments matter to US

For this reason

I have thoroughly reviewed your case

Your concerns have been sent

to the appropriate leadership teams

We are working hard to earn

your continued patronage

I’m sorry you found the kiosk

difficult to understand

and navigate

Given the issues that our industry continues

to face in these volatile economic times

Thank you for giving us

this opportunity to address


I have carefully reviewed

everything in you


my entire body one throbbing nose relating

to the Guarantee Obligations sniffing

twitching when i try to sleep, worrying an obligation

of a downstream affiliate – the stream

is rapid, an obligation of other parties

where there is only the sense

of her perfume, an hour or less, in respect

of the Underlying Obligation of the Underlying Obligor

that is Not Subordinated. in the end, he proposed

direct obligations of the Reference Entity


I am angry because a woman told me

your computers are ‘never wrong’

I am familiar with technology

I am 36 years old, not 86

I am not daunted by flashing screens


The origins of simple, everyday things

is in the longing

for something faster, easier

the longing is building a fire

that rain or floods won’t quell

the lonesome is shifting around

with his hands in his pockets


Your kiosks

are not intuitive

take longer to use

are more unpleasant

than a standard human

interaction at a desk

It is insulting to imply

I was somehow dazzled

by your new-fangled machines

as if I had stepped out of a time-machine

straight from the Victoria age


i mean to say we always want better

than what we have, who wouldn’t

take a little bit extra, a little bit more


I am most offended

that I should be concerned

for your industry

in these ‘volatile economic times’

In these ‘volatile economic times’

people are losing their homes, their jobs

the costs of things like higher education ever increasing

and the gap between rich and poor ever expanding

The idea that I should pity you

rather than be furious

at your theft

is outrageous


i should talk with my grandmother again

about the things in my pockets

a pink handkerchief, some oil

instead, i am on hold awaiting

the dull excuse of management

while the dead stay still and silent


Your company is suffering

due to gross malfeasance

I thank you for your time.

nick-e melville is an experimental poet and artist working in found, visual and conceptual poetics. he has had several publications in various media over the last four years, including: ALERT STATE IS HEIGHTENED (sadpress 2014); me (p.ow. series, 2014) junk mail (if p then q, 2014) and selections and dissections (otoliths, 2010). DOLE (Interview Room 11, Nov 2013) was his first solo exhibition: a conceptual examination of the detritus left behind by Social Security. He teaches creative writing for OLL at Edinburgh, among other places, and was Writer (not) in Residence at HMP Edinburgh, 2010-2011. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing/English Literature at the University of Glasgow, working on a project called The Imperative Commands.

complaint live at Rich Mix, London


Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.

Inspired by  SJ Fowler  ‘Camarade’ project which pairs poets together 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.


Culture Laser: How We Used to Live

September 26, 2014

We talk to director Paul Kelly and co-writer Travis Elborough about their film How we used to live, an elegant and strikingly original film about London made using colour film footage from the BFI and a bespoke soundtrack from Saint Etienne. They performed live in the Barbican on 13 September and you can find out more about the film at Presented by Ryan Van Winkle @rvwable and produced by Colin Fraser @kailworm of Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser We acknowledge the financial assistance of Creative Scotland.

Culture Laser: Blabbermouth

September 25, 2014

We spoke with some of the artists at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Blabbermouth event – a mammoth 12 hour presentation of the diversity of Scottish culture. We talk to Graham McLaren, Annieka Rose, Aonghas MacNeacail, Morven Christie, Paul Laverty, Glasgow Girl Amal Azzudin and Alan Bissett on the eve of the historic Scottish referendum vote. Presented by Ryan Van Winkle @rvwable and produced by Colin Fraser @kailworm of Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser With thanks to Creative Scotland for their financial support.

Book Talk: David Mitchell, Ajay Close

September 24, 2014

In this edition of Book Talk, host Ryan Van Winkle talks to Ajay Close and David Mitchell about time, ethics and mortality.

Novelist and dramatist Ajay Close discusses her latest book, Trust. Trust follows the lives of a disparate group of characters working in mining and banking and the effects or two major events, the miner’s strike and the banking crisis, on their lives. Ajay discusses where the idea for the story came from and how it developed over time.

If the last edition of Book Talk left you wanting to know more about David Mitchell and The Bone Clocks you’re in luck – this edition of the podcast features an extended discussion with the man himself. Spoiler warning: this discussion reveals detail about characters and plot.

David tells us about the process of creating the book and how he was able to effectively portray time’s passage: “stay true to life and how we perceive the passing decades and you probably won’t go too far wrong”. Morality, mortality and the future are also discussed.

Podcast contents
00:00 – 00:28 Introduction
00:28 – 08:52 Ajay Close
08:52 – 30:00 David Mitchell

Ryan is in a Double Bill from Red Squirrel Press

Very pleased to have my poem, ‘Into the Desert with No Name’ included in the anthology Double Bill, the sequel to Split Screen, both published by Red Squirrel Press and edited by Andy Jackson. The launch party will be held at the Scottish Poetry Library on Saturday 4 October from 1-3pm. Hope to see you there.

What: Launch of Double Bill

Where: Scottish Poetry Library, Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh

When: Saturday 4 October, 1-3pm

How Much: FREE

Culture Laser: Bruno Wizard, Elisabeth Rasmussen

September 23, 2014

We talk with Bruno Wizard, an underground legend in the 1970s for his crazed live performances and ‘mystery man’ status and a real one-off. The lead singer of The Homosexuals and The Rejects, he performed at the Roxy alongside The Jam and The Clash; was part of the ‘Blitz kids’ scene; squatted with the Warren Street Mafia; and rejected a series of record deals out of loathing for the establishment. He features in a new film, The Heart of Bruno Wizard, and our Ryan speaks with him and the film’s director Elisabeth Rasmussen is an uplifting and inspiring conversation. Presented by Ryan Van Winkle @rvwable and produced by Colin Fraser @kailworm of Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

Ryan wants to Be the First to Like This

Really excited to be involved with a new anthology of Scottish poems edited by Colin Waters, Be the First to Like This, launching on Thursday 25 September at the Scottish Poetry Library. Tickets are free, but booking is essential. There are a bunch of really talented poets included, some you might already know, some you’ll be delighted to meet. The launch kicks off at 6.30pm, there will be wine, chat and poems. Hope to see you there.

Be the First to Like This: New Scottish Poetry is an anthology gathering together Scotland’s new generation of poets.

Here, the classically formal mixes with the wildly experimental. Subjects are as diverse as texting, fancying film stars, dole offices, quantum physics, and Richard Branson; the common denominator is modernity, a sense these are poems that could only have been written in the early twenty-first century.

A selection of the poets featured in the anthology will read at the launch.  

What: Launch of Be the First to Like This

When: Thursday 25 September, 6.30pm

Where: Scottish Poetry Library, Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh

How Much: FREE. Book here.

Ryan writes the Future of Fashion

September 21, 2014

Was invited to write a poem about the ‘future of fashion’ by the good people at Litro magazine. I imagined people wouldn’t need clothes in the future. The editor says: Ryan Van Winkle imagines a future in which nudity is the new haute couture, in his poem that was joy she said, a modern take on the Emperor’s new clothes.

Ryan supports Thomas Truax

September 20, 2014

Back on the trail, folks, at the Banshee Labyrinth on Friday 26 September with Thomas Truax, our friends Faith Eliott and Jack of Diamonds of Black Diamond Express and Dog on a Swing. It costs £5, doors fly open at 7pm, hope to see you there.

New York City’s Thomas Truax (pronounced troo-aks) is a left field troubadour and inventor/player of strange self-made instruments like his now legendary ‘Hornicator’ and a motorized mechanical drum machine called ‘Sister Spinster’. He employs these and other contraptions as well as traditional instruments in exceptionally crafted, witty and often touching songs. Splendid magazine recently called him “one of the five or ten best singer/songwriters in the world that you’ve never heard of…an exceptional talent, unique and resistant to comparison, yet fairly accessible even to casual listeners.”

Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, a performer and someone that makes things happen. His first collection of poems, ‘Tomorrow, We Will Live Here’, won the Crashaw Prize and he has been published in The American Poetry Review, The Scotland on Sunday and many magazines you have likely never heard of. Ryan will be joined on guitar by Jack Of Diamonds, founding member and frontman of Scotland’s most exciting eight-piece blues band; The Black Diamond Express.

Faith Eliott performing music is merely one string to her artistic bow, and as such is a rare treat. Heartfelt, heart breaking, passionate songs, that will give you goosebumps and shivers down your spine.

Dog On A Swing is the pseudonym under which Ed Ritchie writes and plays music. It’s usually just him, but he likes to bring in other musicians on a fluid and flexible basis.

What: Thomas Truax (+ Support)

Where: Banshee Labyrinth, Niddry Street, Edinburgh

When: Friday 26 September, 7pm.

How Much: £5.