Ryan discusses language in Poetry for Preservation

October 30, 2018

On Wednesday 5 December I’ll be at the National Poetry Library in the Southbank Centre, London for Poetry for Preservation, discussing the Livonian and Scots languages alongside Livonian poet Valts Ernstreits. We will be discussing how poetry can play a role in the preservation of language and culture, with readings and a Q&A.

The event starts at 8pm, it is free but ticketed, and you can book your place here.

Ryan translates poems by Inga Gaile and Baiba Damberg in Words About Words

October 29, 2018

Modern Poetry in Translation has published a digital pamphlet, Words About Words, featuring poems by Latvian poets Sergei Timofejev, Baiba Damberg, Anna Auziņa and Inga Gaile, an interview with Inga Gaile, and a podcast with MPT editor Clare Pollard, Inga Gaile and Mary-Jane Holmes.

I worked on poems by Gaile and Damberg, and work by fellow translators Anne Gutt, Ieva Lešinska, Mary-Jane Holmes and Jayde Will also features.

You can find the whole digital pamphlet on the Modern Poetry in Translation website.

The Good Dark is translated into Ukranian

October 11, 2018

Krok Books in Ukraine published a translation of The Good Dark. It’s the first book of mine to be fully translated.

Thanks are due to the publisher for bringing this into the world, Natalia Semenov for the translations & Publishing Scotland for the vital support of Scottish literature in translation.

With funding from Creative Scotland, I visited the L’viv Book Forum in September for the official launch.
Copies can be purchased from Krok books here.

Ryan participates in World Day Against the Death Penalty

October 10, 2018

I’m in Lahore working with Highlight Arts, Justice Project Pakistan & Olomopolo Media on this performance for World Day Against the Death Penalty.
No Time to Sleep will run from 8pm-8pm GMT 9-10 October, midnight – midnight local time in Lahore.

A 24-hour live performance will see renowned Pakistani actor, Sarmad Khoosat, become death row Prisoner Z as he prepares for his execution.

While the ropes are tested, and his lawyers file paperwork, Prisoner Z will pray, eat his last meal and say goodbye to his family.

Set inside a replica of a cell, this unique performance entitled No Time To Sleep has been informed by interviews with ex-prisoners, families of death row prisoners, executioners, lawyers and prison guards all of whom are affected by capital punishment.

No Time to Sleep is based on the experiences of prisoner Zulfiqar, who, in 2015, became the 103rd person to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in Pakistan in 2014. In total, Zulfiqar spent 17 years on death row where his execution was scheduled and halted more than twenty times. During his incarceration, Zulfiqar helped educate over 400 fellow inmates and secured 33 diplomas himself.

The performance will run from 9th to 10th October, ending on World Day Against the Death Penalty. It will be streamed globally ( with rolling coverage at @z_prisoner posting the mercy petition, final warrants and news coverage.
Director – Kanwal Khoosat and has been Producer – Iram Sana
Dramaturgy – Deborah Pearson
Concept – Ryan Van Winkle

The twenty-four live performance starts at 2000hrs (BST) on 9th October and runs to 2000hrs (BST) on 10th October.

I Was Born with Two Tongues: Poetry as a Tool for Livonian Cultural Revival

May 29, 2018

I will be presenting a roundtable panel of Latvian poets writing in the endangered language Livonian, Valt Ernštreit, Baiba Damberg, Ķempi Kārl, at the 2018 AABS Conference at Stanford University.

The Livonians are the southernmost Finnic nation and are indigenous to Latvia. In the beginning of the Middle Ages, Livonian was spoken across vast territories of present-day Latvia around the Gulf of Rīga and including the area of Latvia’s capital – Rīga. The Livonians have contributed greatly to the historical development of the Central Baltic region and the shaping of modern Latvian language and culture. 

Presently, Livonian is critically endangered and is now spoken by just some twenty people. However, several authors actively writing in Livonian can be found among them. The tradition of writing literature in Livonian has existed for almost 200 years with the first poems in Livonian being written in the mid-19th century. The Livonian poets – Valt Ernštreit, Baiba Damberg, Ķempi Kārl – are continuing this tradition today. 

In spring 2018, the bilingual anthology Trillium will be published in English and Livonian featuring the work of these three poets and celebrating the centennial of Latvia’s independence as well as its guest nation status at the London Book Fair. Trillium was edited by Livonian linguist and poet Valts Ernštreits, translated by poet Ryan Van Winkle and linguist Uldis Balodis, with its design created by well-known Latvian book artist Zane Ernštreite.

The round table will introduce its participants to Livonian history from ancient to modern times as well as present Trillium along with readings of poems in both Livonian and English by its authors and translators. This will also be an opportunity to discuss new perspectives for Livonian language and literature.

Short Bio

Valts Ernštreits
Livonian linguist and culture worker. Ernštreits defended his PhD on the Livonian literary language and is currently involved in the writing of the first ever Livonian reference grammar at the University of Tartu. He is the head of Līvõ kultūr sidām (Livonian Culture Centre, 1994) dedicated to the safeguarding, study, and development of Livonian language and culture. He is also chief editor of the Livonian history, language, and culture portal A poet writing in Livonian and Latvian, translator, and visual artist, Ernštreits has received Norwegian, Estonian, Finnish, and Latvian state decorations. 

Karl Pajusalu 
Professor of Estonian dialectology and the history of the Estonian language at the University of Tartu, member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, and foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. He has studied the historical formation of the Southern Finnic languages, incl. Salaca Livonian, and Estonian and Livonian dialect contacts. He created an orthography for Salaca Livonian, which he has used in his Salaca Livonian poetry volumes.

Uldis Balodis
Latvian linguist and translator. Balodis works with the Finnic languages of Latvia and the Native languages of North America. He has had a personal and professional interest in Livonian for over 20 years. Since 2013, he has studied the historically South Estonian-speaking Lutsi people of Latgale (eastern Latvia). He is currently writing a Lutsi language primer and a volume supported by the AABS Baumanis Grant on the historical Lutsi villages and their inhabitants. Balodis published his dissertation, a reference grammar of the Northern California Yuki language, in 2016.

Gunta Kļava
Latvian linguist, Latvian Language Agency, University of Latvia. Her research interests include sociolinguistics, language policy, and language contacts. She is an author and editor of research into language policy in Latvia. Her responsibilities at the Latvian Language Agency also include support for Livonian language development projects and activities.

Ryan reads with a woman in Reno, her name is Julian Guy

May 28, 2018

I will be reading at Sundance Books and Music in Reno, Nevada, with local poet Julian guy, at 6.30pm, Tuesday 30 May. Hope to see you there!

We are proud to host local poet Julian Guy and visiting poet Ryan Van Winkle for a reading at 6:30.

Julian Guy is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno where she studies fiction and poetry. She is the winner of the 2018 spring DQ Writing award. She has been a Literary Director for the Brushfire Literary & Arts Journal, and has been awarded the James H. MacMillan and J. Lee Taylor Creative Writing scholarships for her excellence in poetry. Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Julian calls the desert her home.

Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, editor and live artist living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review. As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and the Jessie Kesson fellowship at Moniack Mhor in 2018. For more information, visit

Event date:
Wednesday, May 30, 2018 – 6:30pm
Event address:
121 California Avenue
RenoNV 89509

Ryan has two events with Latvian poets in Scotland

May 24, 2018

When Latvia Met Scotland

On Wednesday 23 May, 7pm, I will be reading at the Scottish Poetry Library with Latvian poets Katrīna RudzīteHenriks ZēgnersInga Pizāne, and Eduards Eipurs, Scottish poets Katherine Sowerby and William Letford, and Welsh poet Llyr Gwyn Lewis. This event is produced in partnership with Latvian Literature platform, which is promoting recognition of Latvian literature and its distribution abroad, ensuring international cooperation among publishers, literary agents, writers and translators. Both Latvian Literature platform and SPL are members of Literature Across Frontiers (LAF).

International Simmer: Latvia meets Scotland

On Thursday 24 May, 7.30pm, I will be joined at the Edinburgh Food Studio by Latvian poets Katrīna RudzīteHenriks ZēgnersInga Pizāne, and Eduards Eipurs, Scottish poets Katherine Sowerby and William Letford, Welsh poet Llyr Gwyn Lewis, and Latvian chef Raivo Behmanis.

Our unique collaboration series between food & poetry uses flavour, scent, and colour in response to poems. In this edition we bring an international flavour and welcome a Latvian chef to our kitchen and four distinct Latvian voices and their Scottish / Welsh translators. 

This event has been generously supported by Latvian Literature which works internationally to support Latvian literature abroad.


Screenings of The Good Dark in Edinburgh (April 19) and Stirling (April 26)

April 17, 2018

There will be screenings of The Good Dark, made by Lucas Chih-Peng Kao, in Edinburgh and Stirling over the next fortnight. First in Edinburgh at the Cameo Cinema, 7pm, Thursday 19 April, and in the Mediterranea Restaurant, Stirling, 7pm, Thursday 26 April. The screenings are part of the unDependence Film Festival, and you can read their whole programme here.

A poet wanders through a desolate house and sees the reanimated lives of Jim and Flo, the previous tenants. As the poet recites his poem, bringing the worlds of the past, present and imagination closer, the couple struggle to grasp the last breath of their relationship.

Ryan reads at the SWG3 Poetry Club

April 11, 2018

I’ll be reading alongside Richard Scott, Tessa Berring, Sarah Bernstein and Andy Spragg at the SWG3 Poetry Club, 100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow, on Sunday 6 May, 6.30-9.30pm.

Hope to see you there.

As part of Glasgow International.

Richard Scott was born in London in 1981. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies including Poetry Review, Poetry London, PN Review, Swimmers, The Poetry of Sex (Penguin) and Butt Magazine. He has been a winner of the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, a Jerwood/Arvon Poetry Mentee and a member of the Aldeburgh 8. His pamphlet Wound (Rialto) won the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2016 and his poem ‘crocodile’ won the 2017 Poetry London Competition. Soho (Faber & Faber) is his first book.

Tessa Berring is a writer and artist based in Edinburgh. Her poetry can be found or is forthcoming in a variety of journals/anthologies including The Rialto, Adjacent Pineapple, House of Three Press, Pitymilk Press, 3:AM Magazine (with Kathrine Sowerby), and Datableedzine. In 2017 she wrote for two visual art projects, ‘Narrative’, and ‘Carnevale’ in connection withEdinburgh College of Art. Her pamphlet ‘Cut Glass and No Flowers’ is available from Dancing Girl Press.

Sarah Bernstein is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh, where she is working on a project called ‘Difficult Women & the Common Good’. Her writing has appeared in places like Adjacent PineappletenderContemporary Women’s Writing and Lemon Hound, and her first book, Now Comes the Lightning, was published in Canada by Pedlar Press in 2015. Her work in progress is called The Coming Bad Days.

Andrew Spragg was born in London and lives there. He has written critical pieces for BonafideHix ErosThe Quietus, Poetry London and PN Review. Recent poetry books include Tether//Replica(Sprialbound/Susak Press, 2015), OBJECTS (Red Ceiling Press, 2014), A Treatise on Disaster (Contraband Books, 2013) and To Blart & Kid (Like This Press, 2013). A new book Now Too How Soon came out with Contraband Books autumn 2017 and he is currently working on a collaborative book, To All Those Fucking Scoundrels, with the artist Beth Hopkins.

RYAN VAN WINKLE is a poet, editor and live artist living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award.His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review.As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and the Jessie Kesson fellowship at Moniack Mhor in 2018.

Ryan will be on The Jessie Kesson Fellowship at Moniack Mhor

March 3, 2018

I’m very grateful to have been selected for this year’s Jessie Kesson Fellowship. I’ll be in the cottage at Moniack Mhor for a month, hosting a weekly drop-in workshop on Wednesday 7, 14 and 21 March, 6-8pm.

The workshops will be fun, lively & accessible, for anyone interested in reading or writing poetry. We’ll read a handful of poems and discuss them, with a focus on feeling comfortable talking about poetry.