Office Hours at the SPL – Tuesday 3 Feb. 4pm

January 30, 2009

italy_trip_2007_-32If anyone would like to have a sit-down in the Scottish Poetry Library with me – I have my regular office hours on Tuesday the 3rd of February. I’ll be in the poetry library from 4 – 6 and will be available to talk about poems, poetry, the library, future events, the US Elections, writing or whatever. Please just pop by if you fancy a chat or a browse through the aisles with a little help from me.

For your diary: I’ll be in the SPL from 4 – 6 on the first Tuesday of every month so feel free to come down for a chat and biscuits.

Free Poetry Reading at the Botanics, Edinburgh

Free Event!

free event



20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR.

Call 0131 552 7171 or visit to find directions.


Join me, Edinburgh’s Poetry Reader in Residence, for a short reading of extracts from The Lost World and poems to match. Then follow our new exhibit — The Lost World Poetry Trail — which leads you on an adventure around the green house teeming with rare plants and petals of poetry.

You can also claim a free copy of The Lost World while stocks last!

A lovely excuse to hang out in the temperate palm house of the Royal Botanic Garden.


Saturday: 01 February 2009, 1-1.20pm

How Much?


If you are wondering why you should attend this unique poetry event think about this:

  • Maximum temperature: 17ºC
  • Minimum temperature: 16ºC
  • Relative humidity: 60%

Sounds cozy, doesn’t it? I hope to do a reading soon at the Turkish Baths in Portobello. Watch this space.

Further, the Palm House features the Wollemi Pine which was only discovered in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales in 1994. This has been described as the “Botanical Discovery of the Century” while Slumdog Millionare is only the “the feel-good film of the decade.” Not nearly as impressive.

I’ll be reading my own work as well as poems by Rudyard Kipling, Kei Miller, Jane McKie, Miroslav Holub, Vicki Feaver, Tim Turnbull and Aleksandar Ristovic. A good excuse to visit one of the most inspirational places in Edinburgh. I hope to see you there!

Part of The Lost World Read 2009 citywide reading campaign.

“Farmers honour the ploughman poet” — A Plug

January 23, 2009


Read To a Mouse on the SPL Website

Click to read Burn's To a Mouse on the SPL Website


On Saturday the 24th, I’ll be with the Scottish Poetry Library for a little while at the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market. Always a great place to hang out on a sharp, winter morning.

Here’s the little blurb the Edinburgh Evening News gave us:

“PIPERS and poets will be attending the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market tomorrow to help celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. The market will be filled with the sound of the bagpipes, courtesy of two pipers from George Watson’s School. The Scottish Poetry Library will have a stall with free postcards featuring enduring Burns poems such as A Man’s a Man and a range of books on display for visitors to browse. Edinburgh’s reader in residence, Ryan Van Winkle, will also be on hand, helping visitors to find poems they may enjoy. Slow Food Edinburgh will play its part in the festivities, with a Slow Food Taste Tour focusing on haggis, neeps and tatties. Richard Darke, events manager for market organisers Essential Edinburgh, said: “We are looking forward to an atmospheric Farmers’ Market on Saturday with music, poetry and some fantastic home-grown produce.”

And since we’re celebrating ol’ Mr. Haggis-Lover  — I suggest you go and read my favorite Burns’ poem:  “To a Mouse On Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough.” Our friend Ishbel McFarlane wrote about the poem for the Scottish Poetry Library saying: “This poem is wildly self-obsessed and much darker than its popularity in the classroom would suggest. Its proposed subject-matter might be cutesie, but its message ends up being almost as bitter and hopeless as any Burns ever expresses.” Go and read the poem and the rest of Ishbel’s commentary here.

Looking For Lockerbie – New Book Out Now

January 20, 2009

Looking For Lockerbie


A few years ago I worked on a book with Syracuse University professors Lawrence Mason Jr. and Melissa Chessher along with other student writers and photographers (I was not a student at the time, merely living in Scotland and an alumni of SU). The book we created, “Looking for Lockerbie,” is a photographic and textual attempt to  understand the village most remember as the place where Pan Am 103 crashed on Dec. 21, 1988. I covered what I figured would be the heart of  any Scottish town — the pubs, quiz nights, a local chippy and hill-walking. There is a lot of heart though, in a lot of other places and, to me, the book is a portrait of a  place  at a specific time, just after 9/11, caught between expectations, memories and moving-on (but I wouldn’t call it “moving-on” I’d call it “living.”) Aside from living part-time in Lockerbie one bonus of the project was getting the chance to work with  great photographers including my friends Tom Mason and Barbara Salisbury Quesada. Along with my work there is a great piece on the phenomenon of “boy-racers” by Magin LaSov Gregg. Melissa Chessher, who wrote and edited much of the text, is a beautifully empathetic writer whose work is always arresting and filled with a fine prose that shows depth and insight. You can buy the book here.

The Independent published a short review of the book. Have a little peek: Pick of the Picture Books: Looking for Lockerbie


January 19, 2009



A week ago I spilled
a can of gasoline onto the dirt
floor of the barn.

A gallon or so soaked into the earth.
Since then, I’ve had headaches,
can’t catch my balance.

And I can still smell the gas
from more than 20 yards away.
It reminds me of hitching west

and this ride I hooked
in the back of a truck
the color of rust.

When I shook the driver’s hand he smiled.
His teeth looked like a caterpillar,
and I knew I was beat.

The guy kept all these rags back there,
soaked in gasoline. It was warm
and I fell asleep in a cocoon of reek.

When I came to, it was almost time
to get out. I could feel caterpillars on me,
thought I was going to suffocate.

    He said the free ride was over, it was only a matter of time,
        and I didn’t wish to be out west,
    didn’t care to sit in any more cars with strangers
        and talk about the pace or weather back east.

I tried to lose the smell in a stream,
thought I sent it upriver, away
like father, the attic, his ties.

<“Gasoline” placed 3rd in the Ver Poets Open Poetry Competition>

Flichterin Noise and Glee

January 18, 2009

Burns’ immortal memory is alive and kickin…


Noisey Day at the Scottish Poetry Library
Noisy Day at the Scottish Poetry Library

C’mon feel the noise at the Scottish Poetry Library on Saturday 24 January, with smooth renditions of Burns’ songs from Chandra at 2pm, acoustic punk from Billy Liar at 3pm, and rounding off with the Zorras kicking their brand of “poetry-music fusion weirdness” with megaphones and a wicked loop pedal. A smattering of poetry films, a snatch of playlist and banter guaranteed.

Sadly, The Zorras has to cancel so at 4pm we’ll get the pleasure of a rare, intimate set by one of Edinburgh’s best and hardest-working young bands. The Black Diamond Express. The List says:

“The Black Diamond Express is, at full compliment, a nine-piece soaked in poetry, myth and bourbon. Led by the enigmatic Jack of Diamonds its combination of slide, acoustic and electric guitars over string bass, cello and fiddle, blues harp, banjo, drums and percussion beguiles with the look, the sound and (what really sets them apart) the energy of railroad blues bona fides.”

I say – Fun! Hope you won’t miss this.

The Golden Hour: Hello to 1990nineteen

Where:The Forest, 3 Bristo Place, Edinburgh

The Golden Hour: Wed. 21, January, Free @ The Forest

The Golden Hour: Wed. 21, January, Free @ The Forest

When: Wednesday, 21 January, 8pm

How Much: Free, BYOB


Kirstin Innes – Prose from the winner of the New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book trust.

Craig Bayne – Editor of Glasgow’s newest lit magazine “Are Volitional”.

Ryan Van Winkle: some short poems, one long one.


Black Diamond Express – a rocking, hell-playing, old time string band.

Francious + Atlas Mountains – a sweet and splendid array of original songs.

Hailey Beavis – subtle guitar, a bed for a voice, both personal and touching.

My Poetry Pod-Cast for The Scottish Poetry Library

It Starts Here:

Billy Liar on the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast

Billy Liar on the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast

My first poetry pod-cast is now available from the Scottish Poetry Library.

You’ll hear:

Ryan talking to songwriter Billy Liar about Stevenson, recommending books by Sam Meekings and Sharon Olds, and reading some Hart Crane.

Includes a performance of Billy Liar’s new single “It starts here” from his epic new ep and the spoken word track “Desert Night” with ambient wizardry from Dirk Markham who’s new album Psycho Acoustic Sculptures Vol. 4 is out now.

You can now download this podcast from I-Tunes! Click: Here.

Stolen Stories: Interview and Review

Books From Scotland has done an interview with Editor Nick Holdstock and contributor Angus Woodward. Have a look at the inspiration and method behind Stolen Stories – HERE .


Read what The Skinny says :



Ladies and Gentlemen:


Forest Publications invites you to celebrate our new anthology with readings in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Please pass this invite along to any you think might be interested.


Forest Publications Presents


Stolen Stories


Never, ever trust a writer. One minute you’re pouring your heart out over Bacardi Breezers, the tale of you and him, or you and her, the tears, the anguish, the pain. Next thing you know it’s all over the papers, the hilarious and best-selling tale of some twit who resembles you in every way except they have black hair and better music taste. But this is what writers do. They steal, they take, they lie. We feel there is no shame in this, quite the opposite. In order to celebrate this fact we have

complied an anthology of the finest ‘stolen’ stories, a collection of 16 tales from both established and eager, new thieves, all of whom have been forced to confess the source of their thefts.



Craig Bayne • Louis E. Bourgeois • Lindsay Bower • Ron Butlin • Regi Claire

Rusty Harris • Nick Holdstock • Alison Key • Alison Miller • Nicole Reid • Sarah Salway

Lauren Simpson • Jo Swingler • Lucille Valentine • Dinh Vong • Angus Woodward

Forest Publications: Stolen Stories

I helped edit this new anthology. Stolen Stories Cover

The New Anthology From Forest Publications

Never, ever trust a writer. They cluck and nod and listen and then three months later they splash your tragedy/foolishness/very embarrassing incident involving a raspberry jelly and a pair of warm curling tongs over the tawdry pages of a literary quarterly. We feel there is no shame in this. Quite the opposite: we believe this ugly fact deserves to be celebrated with all the pomp and hullaballoo we can possibly muster. Therefore we are compiled an anthology of the finest stolen stories, the anecdotes and overheard conversations that simply demand to be told. We feel that it is time to be honest. This is where our ideas come from.

Available now:

Blackwells, South Bridge
Waterstones, Princes Street
Word Power, Nicholson Street
Elvis Shakespeare, Leith Walk
The Fruitmarket Gallery

Waterstones Sauchiehall


Distributed by Word Power Books, Edinburgh:
Tel / Fax No: 00 44 (0) 131 662 9112


This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Craig Bayneco-editor of Glasgow literature and arts magazine ‘Are Volitional’

Louis E. Bourgeois founder and editor of VOX PRESS. His collection, The Gar Diaries, was nominated for The National Book Award in 2008.


Lindsay Bower


Ron ButlinEdinburgh’s Makar (Poet Laureate).


Regi Claire– her  published books are Inside~Outside (shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award) and The Beauty Room (longlisted for the Allen Lane/MIND Book of the Year Award)

Rusty Harris

Nick Holdstockhis work has recently appeared in Stand, the Edinburgh Review, and Textualities.

Alison Keyher story, The Ground Beneath Her Feet,  won first prize in the Cinnamon Press short story award 2008

Alison MillerAlison’s first novel Demo was published by Penguin in 2006.

Nicole Louise Reideditor of Southern Indiana Review and the author of In the Breeze of Passing Things (MacAdam/Cage).  Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Quarterly West, Meridian and many more. She is the winner of the 2001Willamette Award in Fiction

Sarah SalwayHer third novel, Getting the Picture, will come out with Random House in Summer 2009.

Lauren Simpsonher fiction has been published in The Golden Hour Book and V: New International Writing from Edinburgh.

Jo Swinglerhas been longlisted for the Bridport Prize and Cinnamon Press First Collection Award.

Lucille Valentine

Dinh Vongformer international editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review.

Angus WoodwardMargaret Media published his collection of short stories, Down at the End of the River, in 2008.

Book Details:

Isbn: 978-0-9556456-1-7
size: aprox. 240 pages.
publisher: Forest Publications
price: £5.99
artwork: Martin McKenna

Distributed by Word Power Books, Edinburgh:
Tel / Fax No: 00 44 (0) 131 662 9112


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Published with generous assistance from the