Blog

Ryan has a poem as part of the WW100 Project

March 2, 2018

I was commissioned to write “The Watcher“, a poem in commemoration of the sinking of the Tuscania, by the Islay Book Festival. Huge thanks to the festival team for inviting me to Islay, and you can read the poem here.

Ryan facilitates a Poetry Translation Workshop in Riga

December 12, 2017

In October this year I facilitated a poetry translation workshop in Riga, Latvia, between four UK-based and four Latvian poets: Llyr Gwyn Lewis, Katherine Sowerby, William Letford, McGillivray, Inga Pizan-Dilba, Aivars Eipurs, Henriks Ellias Zegners, and Katrina Rudzite. You can see the results in this video, made by filmmaker Toms Harjo.

The Good Dark is A Short Film

May 24, 2017

My poem has become a short film. Here’s a peek.

The Good Dark is a short film based on the poem ‘Untitled (Snoopy)’ by Ryan Van Winkle. Directed and produced by Lucas Kao. Produced, shot and scripted by Leo Michael Bruges (AyeFilm 2017). ‘Untitled (Snoopy)’ was published in ‘The Good Dark’ (2015) and is featured here with the kind permission of Penned in the Margins, London.

Ryan makes Subtle Moves

May 17, 2017

In 2016 the Melbourne-based artist Laura Woodward asked for a poem concerning subtle, nuanced movements to compliment her upcoming solo shows & publication. I wrote ‘Subtle Moves’. In May 2017 I joined my longtime collaborator, Dirk Markham, in the studio for his Digital in Berlin radio hour. In between the finest new music from around the word, we recorded this ambient poem/song and sent it flying through the air.
Listen in & check out Laura’s moving, mysterious kinetic installations on her website. Her work is real special. http://www.laurawoodward.com.au/
and you can listen to the whole show and explore Dirk’s archives here:

Commiserate — April 2017 — Dave Coates

April 27, 2017

On not being asked by anyone

Dave Coates & Ryan Van Winkle

On not being asked by anyone

 

I

sunset breathing fire
dangerous toxin levels
in the atmosphere

oh snowflake, embrace
the 19th century, feel

how nice it was, how nice

and it must be nice
to accept god’s silence

to grab what is yours
right off the shelf

amber boxes of grain
land of pilgrim’s pride
sorry, this soup
tastes of corpses

sorry
you have not emerged
as a significant
force

 

II

 

Moloch, what do you say to the colours on the street
Will they sing their purple songs till their faces are blue

Do you want to make a bet, Moloch, did we win
are we winning, Moloch! Losers! Haters! Poison!

Greased coins slip from our fingers! Moloch! Them women
ain’t going quiet!  It’s them Russians, them big bears, Moloch
you can wrestle. Moloch! Not weak! Not low energy!

Sad! It’s Sad!

Children wash up on sand. Chi-na children.
Syrian children. Are you scared of the beach, Moloch?

 

III

 

EU academics should
make preparations to leave,

we found three earth-like planets,
it is warm for february,

it is warm for mittens, for wooly hats,
for sheep in the meadows, for suckers.

My shoes need laces, they say
pull up your pants, wear a belt.

The world is elderly, the world has been elderly
since before you were born, my dear.

I hardly recognise you. That shirt, that colour
doesn’t suit you, I no longer trust your mustache.

This isn’t talking. This isn’t saying.
This is a fact. This is opinion.

Don’t call me sucker.

 

IV

 

sorry, i’m trying to stay
professional here, i know
there are children watching

sorry, this is traditional
sorry all this has a
grim familiarity

 

V.

 

we are living. we aren’t doing much. we were all sitting around.
a pack of poets finishing the black wine, dipping bread
into squid ink. and, of course, somebody says Syria,
and of course someone has an opinion. you see, we’ve thought
about this. we are sensitive and international. we know the news
from all points of the compass. we are whalers. we are at sea
for months at a time.

we are in serbia but the serbs are not talking about war.
but the dane is describing sleeping churches.
but the spaniard is articulating an algorithm – saying capacity capacity capacity
but the romanian sees refugee children with new schoolbags
but the american stays quiet because she is stoned. she went
out to the bay and watched lights twinkle on ripples.
but the greek breaks and reminds us there are bodies
washing up on the shore and the young boys in service
have to pull them out, line them up, count them
every day there are more numbers

so someone says ‘what can we do?’ as if there was a hotline.
nobody says ‘we should write a poem’. nobody says
we should just go on living. somebody says we should finish
this bottle and then get some sleep. someone says we
should finish this bottle, have a shot of schnapps
and then see where the night takes us. because we
are alive and this is what the living do.

 

VI

 

the clock doesn’t care
nor does the television
nor the talking heads

my life is a sofa, a love seat, a bed.

i read newsweek, i read time
counting up the names like mine
there are so many

i’m on a panel
i say some uncomfy things
i will not make friends

that is the best part – rowing the boat away

i will not make friends with you

 

VII

 

The ruins proclaim
our building was beautiful.

There were oranges.

Fact explains nothing.
2 + 2 = who gives a shit

where’s my phone?
have you seen my phone?

i remember standing with her
until he got bored and walked away

i remember the clerk saying
I would prefer not to

i remember i was carrying
a box of cereal
my favourite

the sky was red i had
a few minutes before work

i would prefer not to

Commiserate — February 2017 — Kathrine Sowerby

February 3, 2017

Your Pocket in Paris

Kathrine Sowerby & Ryan Van Winkle

 

Your Pocket in Paris

Berlin, you say, I remember
Rome, I say, you remember
the crossroads and the smell
of song, the ancient footprints
of cooking meat. The last cigarette
and the rubble at the bottom
of vodka drunk from a great height
at the Spanish Stair. Everyone there
turning round and round and round…
I promise, they will greet us like we are
the sofa, the mask, the television – singing
is coca-cola. And your masterpiece is blue
electric blue, the colour of my dreams.
Is it waiting, like the ghost of lions
in the coliseum? Milan is goodbye
to the moon. The moon, you say,
with no money left in train stations.
What next? I remember trying
to run to the top of the escalator
to get us that far. It swung low
looked up at wheels and bells
last night. And it was like a city –
I wanted to follow you south. I wanted
what we once had the map to, to boil
pasta in the street every morning.
I wanted the keys. I swung high
licked honey from plastic, shouted
Relax! And missed. My eye was off.
I wanted to spill oil and watch it
seep into the feather white cloth.
Tranquillity comes at a price. I steal wine
and I wanted to collect faces and pin them
to your hand in the fountain
pulling up wet copper and shove
them into your damp pocket in Paris
where you looked like the sun
looked like an angel that shone on stone
and bones below. Stay still while I draw
the corners of the room, the thing
that made us itch until our skin bled
and stained the sheets. Where is the key?
The money? The colour that doesn’t last
and I am hungry.

Kathrine says: “Writing collaboratively gives you a kind of freedom, a sense of ‘it’s not all down to me’ and ‘let’s go here now’ and ‘I can write whatever I want and it will sound different up against, threaded through, or wrapped around someone else’s words’. Which is a pleasure.”

Bio: Kathrine Sowerby’s chapbooks include Tired Blue Mountain (Red Ceilings Press) and Margaret and Sunflower (dancing girl press). Out very soon is her first collection That Bird Loved (Hesterglock Press) and her book of stories The Spit, the Sound and the Nest (Vagabond Voices). kathrinesowerby.com

Commiserate — January 2017 — Alicia Sometimes

January 9, 2017

My Self / My Soul

Alicia Sometimes & Ryan Van Winkle

aliciasometimessl
Alicia says: I love paisley ties and words that cross oceans. Collaborating with Ryan was a beautiful mind meld. He is the very essence of fervent creativity.

 

My Self / My Soul

 

My self – limps into the afternoon sometimes

we are perched on the fringes

of the universe, in cramped caverns

of marginalia unable to rush ahead, or move

at opportunity. We lean in closer, mesmerized

by embers from the insatiable flame of doubt.

My soul – always a stranger

who comes to visit at inconvenient times

knocking at the door, saying surprise

surprise, do you have anything hot to eat?

Every time we want to collapse, we let our legs fold

holding heavy unyielding minds, hardbound confusions.

*

My self – an adult. Knows

how to read a book for information.

My soul – a child still looking

a new, secret, pleasure.

It is a short amount of time.

It is glacial.

It is a concrete, so solid now.

It is a shadow of my shadow.

Maybe we don’t need millions.

Maybe we need just a few

white paper flowers.

*

My self speaks –

Every time we feel tawny, like some purple word hoodlum,

some upshot with too many full stops. Those days we

believe we’ve defrauded all around us with our bankable bluster

and blunt phrases – our unfathomed blue lagoon of talk.

I believe our dusty roars can fill an egomaniacal sawpit.

I believe the stars are narcissist too. And that the trees

will know hubris. I spend hours tranquilized or annoyed,

can’t get past the beginning of a particular philosophy.

‘I think therefore I am’

and that’s about it.

My soul speaks –

Every time we put our breath into something

every time we blow a bubble or feel our hairs

billowing like a thousand balloons about to raise

up with all the lusty air. Those days when

we go up a few miles and can see

our place in the city, those days we get high

enough to see our place in it all.

*

Dear Self, gravity gives us mass

and keeps us grounded

it is weak. Lift your hand, you’ve won.

Dear Soul, speak up. It’s like you landed

on the moon and we’re down here waiting

for one good word, one small step.

***

Alicia Sometimes is an Australian writer, poet and broadcaster. She is a regular guest on ABC 774 and Radio National. She has appeared in ABC TV’s Sunday Arts and ABC News Breakfast. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and was writer and director of the science-poetry show, Elemental that has toured extensively. Alicia has co-edited From the Outer (Black Inc, 2016) with Nicole Hayes, a book about diversity amongst Aussie Rules football fans. She is also one-sixth of The Outer Sanctum podcast.

Commiserate June 2016 – Peter Mackay and JL Williams

June 29, 2016

In the run up to a visit to Canada to read in various events at Le 17e Festival de la poésie de Montréal, Peter Mackay, Ryan Van Winkle and JL Williams decided to write a collaborative poem that they could share at the festival. As it turned out, they didn’t have time to read the poem in Montreal so thought it would be nice to share it online… especially in light of recent political events. They hope it conveys some sense of the way language and poetry attempts to cross personal and linguistic barriers, challenge conventional meanings and encourage us to think about the world in new ways.

 

***

O Scotland My Canada

A cold wind blows from the north, snow this sunshine day
and a wolf howling in the air above the castle.

And a wolf cloud can break your heart. So, why not
just go back to sleep? The castle closed her eyes

years ago & no longer worries about the bubonic plague,
the hairless breasts of Putin. All this waxing

and waning. Throw-away newspapers scuffle
along old-town, new-town streets, leaving their print.

Throw away fire & kindling, throw rock
so it skims & leaps past the drowsy swans

swooning in the odd heat. Me, I like to keep my feet
moving below the surface, cold as can be, blue

as the wolf’s eyes and her tender paws
padding the spine of a frozen river

so cold the skin of the eye freezes, the heart’s
beat slows, the ears open to chimes and iron

I miss confident church bells, the persistent rise of 8 AM
And Wolf misses the proud trees which have been felled

sent down river, to the bay and shaped into boats
old trunks in new forms at aimed a new world

somewhere nova, somewhere neuve, somewhere ùr

where I first sang O Canada my Canada,
O Scotland my Scotland, O world without borders

whose places are beginnings for everyone,
whose forests are homes for all wolves,

whose stones speak all languages quietly, quietly
beneath the running of water.

***

 

bar_1JL Williams‘ books include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), the triptych collection Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015) and House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016).  She was selected for the 2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library. http://www.jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk

unnamed

 

 

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.

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
nothing
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.

‘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.

spikeyborder