‘The Heart’ Published in Witness

November 5, 2014

Very pleased to have my poem ‘The Heart‘ published in the Winter edition of Witness, the Black Mountain Institute literary magazine. You can read it here.

Rachel McCrum – Commiserate, Nov 2014

October 27, 2014

What I Might Say, When I May Say It

Rachel McCrum & Ryan Van Winkle


Says Rachel: How a poem sounds is important to me; my way back to writing had been via a lot of readings in Edinburgh, and for me, every phrase or line has to sound just right before it goes to paper. When I started to write this with Ryan, I could hear his voice, his damn distinctive reading voice with all those big honeyed cadences playing in my head, and I found myself wanting to resist it. Clip it back. I was worried whose voice was speaking, whose story being told, what sense was (not) being made.Rachel McCrum

Turned out that I don’t think that matters. Turned out to be more fun playing with it, seeing which lines could give a little, tease a bit, and which ones wanted to stand firm. Where it took itself. What it’s about – we both have an idea, and maybe we will talk about that someday. I think it’s the same idea. To me, that it started to get written just after the Referendum had failed (can we say failed?) and how people dealt with their grief from the result, is significant. But, also, just for the writing of it – thanks for the dance.




What I Might Say, When I May Say It


It is always tempting to imagine
what my father felt when I landed
in his arms or what I might say
when a friend dies


how I might arrange myself
or how I might be stoic
with thick strength
or how I might howl myself


– and you, rigid –
or how my voice might crack
in all the right places
and never squeak or snot


how I might bask in thoughts of syrup
some slow elastic sweetness
never too hot or too cold
but just right, just right.




And it is tempting to break
when they say ‘crack –
it will let the light in’.
That old drone, one hopes


will smooth our ire
to a healthy varnish.
One hopes we might
remember the mountains


and how they looked so far
until we rolled on them. How
nanna was a Moore girl
and she gave good wood


out amongst the birch. Tempting
to trace old lines over
before we remember how
our landscapes were always


different, that my folks came
from salt. But still we hold
our forks the exact same way, that
we may recall, when the time comes,


the same rough supple shapes
of their hands. All we might
be able to say when time
creaks closed and we must speak.



About Rachel

Rachel landed in Edinburgh in the spring of 2010, via Manchester, Belfast, New Zealand, Oxford and a small seaside town in Northern Ireland. She wholly blames the Forest Cafe for the joy she is currently living with writing, performing, collaborating and organising poetry events in Scotland. It cost her a PhD but that hadn’t been a good idea anyway. Her first pamphlet ‘The Glassblower Dances‘ won the 2013 Callum Macdonald Award, as a result of which she spent two weeks as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at the Harvard Centre for Hellenic Studies in Nafplion, Greece. In spring 2014, she spent two weeks in South Africa as one of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Commonwealth Poets United. With poet Jenny Lindsay, she runs Rally & Broad, a regular cabaret of poetry, music and lyrical delight in Edinburgh, Glasgow and other places.


Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.

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.

Ryan has Two Poems in B O D Y Magazine

October 22, 2014

Good news! My poems ‘Stocking’ and ‘Clair de Lune’ have been published in B O D Y. It is a great magazine and you should read it.

Culture Laser Live at the Dundee Literary Festival

The good people at STV interviewed me about the Culture Laser, about living in Edinburgh and our friends at the Forest Cafe. It also mentions the Live edition of the Culture Laser happening this Friday 24 October at the Dundee Literary Festival, at which it would be a delight to see you.

Book Talk: Patrick Ness, Mikey Cuddihy and John Gordon Sinclair

October 21, 2014

00:00 – 00:45 Introduction
00:45 – 11:05 Patrick Ness
11:05 – 20:28 Mikey Cuddihy
20:28 – 32:50 John Gordon Sinclair

In this edition of Book Talk. Host Ryan Van Winkle talks to Patrick Ness, Mikey Cuddihy and John Gordon Sinclair about spite, happiness and motivations for writing.

Two-time winner of the Carnegie Award, Patrick Ness is the author of a number of books for adults and young adults including A Monster Calls, The Crane Wife and More Than This, the novel under discussion in the previous episode of Book Talk. In this interview, Ness offers his own insight into some of the topics we discussed and also talks more about his writing process including how he decides whether a book is aimed at adults or teenagers, how to get started as a writer even when people tell you you can’t do it: “Do it anyway… Spite is a really good place to write from. It’s a really good motivator.”

Mikey Cuddihy discusses her memoir A Conversation About Happiness. In the book, Cuddihy takes the reader back into her childhood, which was spent at Summerhill School, where children are allowed to live freely and lessons are optional. Cuddihy talks about how she was able to go back into the voice of her 9 year old self, and whether she was truly happy in an environment where the happiness of children was considered paramount.

Finally, Ryan talks to John Gordon Sinclair. Sinclair may be most famous as an actor – in particular for his role in Gregory’s Girl – but his second novel Blood Whispers has just been published. The book features Keira Lynch, a Glasgow lawyer representing a prostitute on the run from a Serbian gang leader. John discusses both his writing and acting careers and how they overlap and why he wanted to bring emotion into crime writing.

SPL Podcast: August Kleinzahler

October 20, 2014

We talk with the critically acclaimed American poet August Kleinzahler on this week’s episode. In a robust interview, he reads some poems from his latest collection The Hotel Oneira as well as discussing his views on poetry as an art form and the modern poetry world. Presented by Ryan Van Winkle @rvwable and produced by Colin Fraser @kailworm of Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

Free Poems for All

October 19, 2014

Good news for people who like their poems free and on the internet: I’ve updated the Poems section with a whole bunch of new work, including Epicene, The Duke in Pines and the very long Untitled (Snoopy).

Ryan performs with Ghazal Mosadeq at Camaradefest II

October 18, 2014

Very excited to be collaborating with the poet and novelist Ghazal Mosadeq at 7pm, Saturday October 25 in the Rich Mix Centre, part of the We Are Enemies project’s Camaradefest II. The show starts at noon, and runs throughout the day til the last group at 9pm. You can download some of her work at that link! Or come see us and a full 98 other performers at one of the most exciting poetry events going.

PLUS: I’ll also be reading at zimZalla on Monday 27, also part of We Are Enemies’ ever-growing umbrella of excellent work. Hope to see you there!

Ryan at zimZalla

October 12, 2014

Very excited to be reading at zimZalla during the London trip. If you’re around the Hardy Tree Gallery near Kings Cross at 7.30pm on Monday 27 October, you’ll know what to do. It’s in association with our friend SJ Fowler’s Enemies project.

October Monday 27th. 7.30pm: ZimZalla in performance, readings from the TRYIE Collective (Zuzana Husarova, Olga Pekova +), Tom Jenks, Pascal O’Loughlin, Kim Campanello, Ryan Van Winkle, Christodoulos Makris & more.

Culture Laser: I Wish I Was Lonely

October 9, 2014

Fringe First winners Chris Thorpe @piglungs and Hannah Jane Walker @hanwalker talk to Ryan Van Winkle about their moving exploration of the effect of 24/7 connectivity on our lives and gradual erosion of our ability to be alone. 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.