April 5, 2019
I have a poem published in this epic anthology of contemporary poetry from across Europe. There’s too many incredible poets involved to name but it is a delight to join so many of the friends I’ve made through literature in this one collection.
Available now from Hanser Literaturverlage.
March 12, 2019
Livonian Book Tour UK — 26-30 March: London, Cornwall, Cardiff
Join us to celebrate the publication of this very special bi-lingual collection of Livonian poetry from Valts Ernstreits. This is his first full collection of Livonian poetry in English so, thanks to Latvian Literature and Francis Boutle Publishing, we’re going on tour.
Join us for a series of bilingual events, with readings of poems in Livonian by Valts Ernstreits translated into English by Ryan Van Winkle.
A very rare chance to hear poetry in one of Europe’s most endangered languages. Livonian is spoken in Latvia by fewer than 30 people.
26 March @ 16.30 — Panel Discussion and Reading
School of Slavonic and East European Studies – London
26 March @ 19.00 — Book Launch
Bookmarks Bookshop, London
27 March @ 19.00 — Reading & Discussion
Waterstone’s – Truro
Featuring a special reading of VIRGIL’S FOUNTAIN/ FENTEN FERYL – A POEM IN CORNISH BY TIM SAUNDERS
28 March @ 19.00 — Reading & Discussion
Cant a mil (100 Whitechurch Rd, Cardiff)
Featuring a special reading of VIRGIL’S FOUNTAIN/ FENTEN FERYL – A POEM IN CORNISH BY TIM SAUNDERS & Music by Ani Glass.
We hope to see you at one of these destinations for an evening of literary splendour.
You can buy a copy of this collection at Francis Boutle Publishers
March 11, 2019
POEMS IN LIVONIAN By Valts Ernštreits
Translated by Ryan Van Winkle and Valts Ernštreits
In People Like Us you will wander through Latvia meeting Livonian characters as they struggle with the burdens and responsibilities of their language and heritage. You will explore ancient lands and lands yet to be discovered.
Purchase your copy at Francis Boutle Publishers.
March 7, 2019
Latvian Literature in Translation — 11 March, 19.00
The London Latvian Centre
I’ll be hosting an evening of contemporary Latvian poetry in translation. These brand-new versions were created in autumn last year and are finally ready for their UK premiere. I hope you’ll join me and these excellent poets for a night of introverted expression.
Featuring new poems in translation from: Elvīra Bloma, Raimonds Ķirķis, Ausma Perons, Tessa Berring, Patrick James Errington, Samuel Tongue, Roseanne Watt and Lauris Veips.
Supported by Latvian Literature
March 1, 2019
You Can Stop This at Any Time — 1-3 March
Karachi Literature Festival 2019
Original One-to-One Live Art performance created by Ryan Van Winkle in partnership with Highlight Arts and Justice Project Pakistan, this live art installation brings audiences face to face with the broken criminal justice system in Pakistan.
June 21, 2016
I’ll be on Twitter (@rvwable) alongside Claire Askew (@onenightstanzas) and Theresa Muñoz (@munozpoems), tweeting about the poems we’ve found most meaningful and important, as part of #ScotLitFest. Join us online at 5pm, Sunday 26 June to be a part of the conversation.
We’re celebrating poetry during the weekend by paying it forward: what poems changed your life? Who would you recommend? Claire Askew,Ryan Van Winkle and Theresa Munoz will be talking us through some titles and poets that stand out to them. You can chip in your favourites too – not only will it be an hour of lively discussion on poetry, but a great starting point for those new to the genre to discover some greats.
August 25, 2015
Changi Airport – Singapore: 18.04
It is a common thing, before a big trip, for people to ask – ‘are you excited for Australia?’
My response is always the same, ‘No. But I will be when I get there.’ I don’t tend to ‘look forward’ in that way, to dream of how good something or someplace will be. I don’t check the weather. I do not buy a Lonely Planet.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who manages expectations in this way. Surely there are people who won’t read reviews before seeing the film.
However, my friends David Stavanger & Annie Te Whiu (co-directors of this year’s Queensland Poetry Festival) suggested I write a blog, maybe telling people how excited I am to be part of the Scottish cohort heading to QPF this year.
Well, as I said, I don’t get excited before things but I’m 99% sure to be excitedly drinking with them after the gig. And, honestly, performance artist MacGillivray & my old friend William Letford have consistently delivered performances which live inside me. It is a semi-eclectic bill – the three of us – but one that speaks to the programmers’ attraction to poems which are crafted and can exist on the page but also to poets who know how to read and perform their work, who are willing to collaborate & experiment with music, noise, voice to create something unique for the live audience. Together, we’re going to try to do that.
18.23 – Poets are the new whalers
Being in this airport so far from both my Scottish & American homes reminds me of something Jane Hirshfield once quipped to me – ‘poets are the new whalers’ – she emailed as we kept almost being in the same city at the same time a few years back.
There’s not much money or fame in our line of work but man, she was right, some of us lucky ones get to criss-cross the globe. I’ve been to Lebanon & Iraq with Letford, seen David Stavanger in Edinburgh, St Andrews and Brisbane and after this jaunt MacGillivray is flying straight to LA for more gigs.
The worrying thought occurs that maybe we’re not the whalers but the whales. Or maybe the great poem is the whale, the impossible, illusive, destructive thing that we (as writers) chase along with audiences (as readers) – both of us Ahab. Manically, scanning the seas for that brilliant white one.
18.45 – I Never Really Left
I sat down with a Laksa soup and realized I still had my Edinburgh International Book Festival lanyard in my back pocket.
I think I’ll keep it with me as I go from the Melbourne Writers Festival to the Queensland Poetry Festival. It will remind me of the conversations had in Edinburgh with Mexican poets & writers, with critics, with Sami & Inuit poets, with author musicians like John Darnielle and almost certainly the threads will continue, a global conversation, a global village.
Some Threads in My Head
— The visiting Mexican poet Monica de la Torre said that writing the poem is as important as the poem, that the act of writing is a learning process, that she doesn’t know what she wants to say when she starts and the act of writing is the act of discovery (paraphrasing from memory here, sorry Monica). It was a heartening idea to hear articulated in front of a crowd and I wonder, if I like the writers who have a process which is similar to mine, who are not making an argument but are charting a journey to an argument? And is that fair to the writers who don’t write that way — who start with an argument and work towards it?
— Would intellectualsnob.com be a good website? Am I an intellectual snob? Or, as the writer & critic Stuart Kelly said, do I believe in an ‘elitism for all’?
— Is performance poetry / slam poetry / spoken word a capitalist construct because it monitizes poetry via crowd pleasing activities? (as suggested in The Guardian comments section, here) Or, more generously, is it populist and speaking to ‘the people’?
— David Stavanger, Mr Ghostboy, who himself straddles the twin stallions of both page poetry & spoken word will have something to say about this, no doubt. It is reflected in his programming & of course in his work of which there is much I admire. I surprise myself by sincerely looking forward to that conversation. I suspect he will say what I know deep down — that good is good & bad is bad and labels, like flags, are stupid.
— I think to myself, ‘Language does more than order a cup of coffee. Language does more than ‘communicate’ on the most obvious level. Language does more than say, ‘2 dollars fifty cents, thank you’. The visiting Mexican poet, Gabriela Jauregui, said something along the lines that poetry / language diverts the ‘transactional’, and also that poetry can overcome the language of (what she called) ‘necrocapitalism’ in Mexico.
— Jessie Kleeman pushed language far out in her hypnotic & moving Jura Unbound performance as part of Highlight Arts‘ ‘Head North, My Friend‘. At one point she asked, ‘what will we do without dogs when the ice melts? Build factories to turn them into food?’ Ouch.
— This classic clip from Orson Welles’ The Third Man has been going around my head thanks to the visiting Mexican journalist Juan Villoro.
— Does making art require suffering, violence, blood? If you had the choice, would you want to be Switzerland or Italy? I was glad I got to ask that of John Darnielle & Gavin Extence who both have suffered & seen suffering first hand.
18.55 – I Better Go Now
I think my flight is boarding and this airport is big. I’m also mildly curious about ‘how to become a Changhi Airport Millionaire’ – would that be a millionaire only in the confines of this airport. Like The Terminal but with Donald Trump as Tom Hanks?
April 15, 2015
Last month, Natalie Taylor, Artist-in-Residence at North Edinburgh Grows, asked me to help a group of amateur wood carvers create a bespoke poem for the revamped community garden behind the Muirhouse Library.
With that lofty goal in mind, a small, thoughtful group gamely bounced words and themes around and – together – created the small concrete poem you see in these photos. You can visit the newly re-designed community gardens next to North Edinburgh Arts and the Muirhouse Library.
Thanks to Natalie for involving me in this making and congratulations to all involved in creating this beautiful & poetic garden.
January 29, 2015
It Feels As If
Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle
COLIN SAYS: It was fun writing thickly (and less thickly) veiled love poems/letters to you Ryan! I love writing that strains impossibly trying not to say something that it is in fact saying, like when you get someone going round the houses to explain why their argument isn’t this thing but in fact this other thing and you can barely tell the difference between them other than this tiny semantic nuance, if even that. This exchange was kind of the opposite of that, where there is an enormous effort to couch what you are saying behind a whole sequence of smoke and mirrors. Speaking of which, when we were about to read this in the pub in Aberdeen, and I was making a brief introduction that these were based on the homoerotic love letters of King James VI, the poet nick-e melville piped up and said: “I thought you were going to say Kim Jong Il”…. that might be something to try next time. (And I hope there will be tons of next times.)
It Feels as If
You ceilidh so woolly that I do not enquire after your heat and ask if you maintain the stay-at-home. Of you. Be in no doubt. In a tinge, a tinkle. A horsewhip.
I must beg to differ. I blew that stallion off my back and now there are wrinkles around my eyes, even when there is no bright white sun. Perhaps I misunderstand your query.
When it is your will, perhaps I will be accustomed to your actuaries more intimately. Hearty then for myself, and flattering my falcons for wont that I will know from all the assertions of your benchmark the discretions and vindications I seek. The aqualung as always requires no epicure and the surname no sun.
It is a flexible instrument us men have inherited. It is amazing how much punishment we can take, almost without protest. They say I cough blood only because I laugh too much. And yet, I am neither victim, nor survivor – I have not suffered and this will not cease with a foot in the mouth nor a mere finger in the pie. I am too tired to look for another hole in the ground. Play the piano for me, play the one about the rolling heather.
I am conscious that these are early eunuchs. Perhaps our collision will always occupy only the earliest but in precedent perhaps more rather than less endeavour of our mutual prophecies is required. I want it to be known that in all mazes except of heaving hearts I am profoundly easily swayed and that only in one ratcheted nozzle do I dissuade myself, uncompromised. Make that one ratcheted novelette. It feels as if.
The brains of my brothers are as empty as the underpants of a eunuch. I put my hands in but I always feel like I’m rummaging around for something that isn’t quite there. Did I tell you that I’ve seen the sea again. The sea was impersonal and didn’t care. Maybe it was a dream, I don’t know, everything happens so much. One feels as if, indeed.
Your agreement on such matters makes my bosom swell. I think there may have been a mnemonic but no matter now, attention shifts like sands. Are we listened to yet? And if not by the sea by some other force. I am afraid to tell anyone of my dessert.
My ears are yours, should the postboy take them. Mine eyes as well, should I manage to find that runcible spoon. Last I remember, we were having a picnic. Youngberries, cherries, currants. And my confession – I am no picnic myself.
He has seized now an orange shroud and nudges his resin towards me. My tobacco remains deaf-mute but the walls can make something or other out. It’s churlish to avoid unreeling this particular cassette: on a purplish roster, he bade me thank his chasm! I swore, I’d never appear in any such anthology and, fizzling to consult, I can earnestly say that prevented him. But for how long?
Your mementos will turn to dust, the picture postcards, your spanish braids shall untagle and what will you be left with? Your flaxen locks? Your silver coin eyes? We must hold true north and remain vulnerable to everything. Who is not temporal, flesh?
I regret that cruisy tone. But what meteorites are contained in even the simplest struck match?! Your reward for keeping my conscience is something I cannot sufficiently commend. Let me at least say this: indeed I do not think the tongue at all creditable either to mandrills or woodpeckers, and (though you will not believe me) I very often feel ashamed of it myself.
I cannot live any longer not knowing what will happen tomorrow. Pray tell, look into your tea leaves. I can toy with this eye-wrecking lace work no longer. Tell me the fate of Atlantis, tell me of Troy and the horse. What was it like inside the dark body – all those swords, those torsos next to torsos, those chosen men breathing quiet as they could?
I have had it with my femur! What may seem to some an interactive irrelevancy is in fact to me an irritant. A flea-pit felony if you really want know. But I will pick myself up and narrow the scope. You’re asking about tomorrow? It’s surely dominated by the smallest of sunbathers quivering from the warmth of. You know what warmth and you know how irrepressible its draw. Those tiny bathers. A nappy banquet. It’s not too tragi-comic.
It is impossible to stop wanting to repeat ourselves. And yet we make each word anew. As if no man had ever spoken it before. This is the hard part.
Hard as in rocky? Solid? Iron-hearted? Impenetrable? Packed? So I understand. To avoid a debacle, embrace summings-up. Perhaps we should betray our fitter selfishisms and motley underpinnings, but can I speak from the heart? thus?, desires. I believe my words will no longer hold and as it stands: you hang a fish from a hook, it will untangle itself, depending on the brainpower of the fish. It’s a stroll in the park for me.
Sometimes the vein runs so dry, I don’t have a word to say. If there was a line between my mind and your ear, I would trespass it. Perhaps, as always, the best answer is: ‘it depends’. Perhaps I will have a full dream tonight and there will be more to say in the morning.
Colin Herd was born in Stirling in 1985 and now lives in Edinburgh. He is a poet, fiction writer and critic. His first collection of poems “too ok” was published by BlazeVOX in 2011. A pamphlet, “like”, was published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press in 2011 and a second full-length collection ‘Glovebox’, was published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press in 2013. He has published over 60 reviews and articles on art and literature in publications including Aesthetica Magazine, 3:AM Magazine, PN:Review and The Independent. He has read and performed his work widely, including at Rich Mix Arts Centre, The Fruitmarket Gallery, Gay’s the Word Bookshop, Edinburgh University, Lancaster University and The Edinburgh International Book Festival. In 2014, ‘Glovebox’ was highly commended in the Forward Prizes.
Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle read ‘I Feel As If’
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 & 2014 poems here.