Lee Si Young on the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast

May 4, 2014

On this episode we talk with Korean poet Lee Si-Young and his translator, Brother Anthony of Taize. He reads some of his poems and reflects on how his work has evolved since the military dictatorship in South Korea when it was dangerous and extremely difficult to publish poetry. It ‘was a responsibility that young poets had to take to stand up and dare take the risk to oppose and indicate there was another way ahead.’ He also discusses his views on political poetry – ‘without something that emerges from the human heart you cannot have a poem… If I am simply angry then nothing will come out in terms of poetry. It has to be transformed.’ You may find more information about Lee Si-Young and other Korean poets on Brother Anthony’s website. We also feature one of the collaborations from SJ Fowler’s Camarade project with Marcus Slease and Claire Potter. Listen to more of the collaborations here and find out more at SJ’s website. Presented by Ryan Van Winkle and produced by Colin Fraser of Culture Laser Productions.

Ryan Joins the Ampersand Edition of Rally and Broad at the Bongo Club

April 29, 2014

Very chuffed to be joining Lake Montgomery and a host of talented artists for Rally and Broad’s Ampersand Edition. There’ll be collaborations with singer-songwriters and poets, plus we’ll be back in the hallowed vaults of the Bongo Club, part of the Bongo Lives! celebrations. It’s this Friday 2 May, it’s five bucks, it’s tremendous art. Come join us!

A special edition Rally & Broad cabaret to celebrate Bongo Lives!

Mash-ups and collaborations from:

Ruth Mills & Gerry Campbell!

Award-winning dancer and choreographer Ruth Mills (Whatever Gets You Through The Night) teams up with Gerry Campbell (formerly Belle & Sebastian, BabyGod)

Ryan Van Winkle & Lake Montgomery!

Critically-acclaimed poet, Van Winkle teams up with the captivatingly soulful Lake Montgomery!

Snake-faced Jake & Lach!

Acoustic-punk meets Anti-Folk! Snake-faced Jake of Black Diamond Express teams up with the founder of Anti-Folk, Lach in what promises to be a strange and wonderful collaboration!

Rally & Broad is a highly acclaimed, much-vaunted lyrical cabaret, rapidly gaining notice for fun, engaging, interactive and inspiring literary-themed cabarets. R&B has run since October 2012 and has featured over 60 writers and poets, alongisde award winning musicians, theatre-makers and dance acts. Hosted by poets Jenny Lindsay & Rachel McCrum.

What: Rally & Broad Ampersand

Where: Bongo Club, 66 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JX

When: Friday 2 May, Doors 7pm

How Much: £5 (£4 advance)

Ryan joins Screen Bandita at Summerhall

January 27, 2014

Screen Bandita and myself will be teaming up  for some audio-visual shenanigans on Tuesday February 11 at Summerhall, hope to see you there!

Adrift (In the Archive)

Harnessing spoken word, found celluloid film, slides, vintage ephemera and gramophones, Van Winkle and Screen Bandita conjure forth a mesmerising and surreal piece that unfolds and unpacks suitcases of memory, place and experience.
Drawing inspiration from the stories springing from the resonant walls and dusty corners of times past, these archival inquisitors weave a new audio visual tapestry before your very eyes; unravelling stories and episodes suspended in time and illuminating those fragments of presence and memory lingering in and about the ether, left behind by the rich cast of characters who have passed through.

What: Adrift (In the Archive)

Where: Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL

When: 7.30-8.15pm, Tuesday February 11

How Much: £5

Ryan Collaborates with Hiva Oa and Ania Urbanowska

January 7, 2014

If you’ve got a bit of time out today, or fancy putting something relaxing in your ears (and maybe eyes), have a listen to ‘water with wind, later fire’, a piece by Hiva Oa featuring words by Mesa Begic and myself from the Commiserate project and pictures by Ania Urbanowska. Enjoy.

The Point is You Give: Camaradefest on the Culture Laser

November 5, 2013

The Camaradefest was a unique one day explosion of dynamic collaboration in contemporary avant garde and literary poetics. 100 poets aligned in 50 pairs, each writing an original collaborative work, written specifically for the festival and premiered on the day. We feature 4 of the pairs – Marcus Slease & Claire Potter, Stephen Watts & Will Rowe, Julia Bird & Sarah Hesketh, Ghazal Mosadeq & Ricardo Marques – and discuss the thinking behind the process with SJ Fowler.

‘The ‘Burbs’ Published in SJ Fowler’s Enemies

November 4, 2013

The ‘Burbs is a collaboration with myself and SJ Fowler. He’s just released Enemies with Penned in the Margins — an entire collection of his collaborations and it is something special and unique to be a part of. You can buy a copy or check out our work on Commiserate, an ongoing collaboration project.

Commiserate September – Emily Ballou

September 30, 2013

Commiserate is a monthly experiment in poetic collaboration.

Sept, 2013: Emily Ballou – Ask a Lizard

Says Emily: “For a long time, I have been, first visited, and then stalked, by a creature and poetic subject known to me as LIZARD. Lizard was born on a typewriter overlooking Loch Long and subsequently accompanied me to Beirut with Ryan Van Winkle where he had his first public outing as a suite of poems for a longer book I still have not finished. Ryan is therefore, an old friend of his. When Ryan and I discussed co-writing a poem or a series of poems, I suggested the title “ASK A LIZARD”. I had been watching a lot of “Ask a Monk” on You Tube, where a bald man in orange robes tries to answer your most existential questions. I felt at times that Lizard would have more interesting answers. And so began our project “ASK A LIZARD” which Ryan and I sent back and forth over the course of several months. If you have any other questions for LIZARD, please send them.”

Ask a Lizard

What is Sleep?

First, there is no cure.
Second, sleep is opposite of everything else
you think you are.
It is the black pulsing shadow on the rock
on the bark, on the sand.
It is the name for the stretched out shaded space that grows
to infinite proportions
blown by breeze, shape-shifted by sun
where Goannas eat man.
And it is the place you would step if you were able
to be nowhere else but there
in the black sketch of exile
(can you even remember it?)
that is the preparation for the long sleep
with no stories inside it.
Lizards don’t tell their tales at night.
Every day they press another claw into the sand
which tomorrow will not be there.

Is it possible to be alone in a crowd?

If you can lie down
in a city rush say, at nine
in the morning
on a Monday, mid-September,
eighteen days from Washington
and curl up into a small ball
on the warming stone
of the footpath
imitating a lizard
or a penguin egg
take your pick
keeping your eyes shut tight
or just one eye in Asynchronous
Eye Closure
and a small handwritten sign
that reads
I am not dead, keep walking,
soon, the sound of work shoes
gingerly tap over and around you
(a meaningless stone in a river
of babbling soles)
and the slow slide
of passing traffic passing by
will massage you into a sort
of alone and wakeful rest
known to all lizards
of every tree and continent
as Qw – Quiet Wakefulness.

How Much Does the Earth Weigh?

Go easy and lift
from the knees
when you multiply
what you know
with what you don’t
or count the seconds
of a day, every one

until it is done
and see if you don’t float
in black nets of stars

What pulls harder than the moon?

Whatever draws or presses another is as much drawn or pressed by that other.
If a lizard draws a thread bobbin tied from its foot to a shrub, the lizard will equally be drawn back
towards the shrub, for the distended thread, by the same endeavor to relax or unbend itself, will
draw the lizard as much towards the shrub as it does the shrub towards the lizard and will obstruct
the progress of one as much as it advances the other.
(from Lizard’s Third Law of Inertia)

Do you Ever Think of Your Mother?

Look sideways at the sun or lick a rock
when the canopy ruffles like fur

What is the Doctrine of Chances?
(The Doctrine of Chances: or, a method for calculating the probabilities for events in play)

Taste the air
with your wet
claw, let it tell you
which way it is blowing.
Does it hold rain?
Does it hold coming sun
or slacking moon? Or a total eclipse
of want, a total westward of
want? Does it hold
your supper or just stone dust
or the pale pollen of children
gusted up as far off as Adelaide?
Does it cradle night? Or does nigh
cradle you; rock you awake? You have to ask
yourself why you are asking. Can you
taste that light that comes out
when the cold shutter of sky closes,
when the yellow goes?

You know what happens now.
The whole world starts singing.

See that tree over there
with the cicadas in it? Their long wings
are lattices, both crispy and translucently sweet.
Your path from rock to bark
is an Isosceles or a Scalene
but if that hawk’s overhead
you gotta gauge the chances
that he’ll take a short line

and take his chance on you. Is it an accident
if his black beak catches? How many collisions
and near-misses, how much beaten wind
have you heard in your short warm life?
Mind this doctrine
when you dare that dash to scale that trunk
or it will shorter still.

What did your face look like before you were born?

You come to understand
wherever you go
you’ll see your own face
in the mirror
not like stone
more like steel
each day, a little more rust

Ryan is a Viewmaster

August 10, 2013

From Friday 16 – Monday 18 August I’ll be back collaborating with Dan Gorman on our Viewmaster project right at the start of the Forest Fringe, which this year is operating out of the Blue Drill Hall, 30-38 Dalmeny St, Edinburgh.

Viewmaster with Dan Gorman

A personal slide-show for your eyes and ears only. You choose the journey and Ryan Van Winkle will bring you on a sometimes surprising, sometime surreal, tour accompanied by the ambient soundtrack of Dan Gorman. Performances are under 10 minutes. A rare chance to travel, listen and pause in one small space.

What: Viewmaster

Where: Blue Drill Hall, 30-38 Dalmeny St, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG.

When: Friday 16-Monday 19 August, 11am-1pm & 3.45-5.30pm

Commiserate Part Deux: SJ Fowler

February 4, 2013

SJ Fowler and his performing bears

SJ Fowler: poet, friend, bear-lover

As mentioned last month, ‘Commiserate’ is an experiment in poetic collaboration born out of SJ Fowler’s inspiring Enemies project. As I’ll be down in London’s Rich Mix on the 9th as part of his ‘Comrades IV‘ line up I thought I’d share one of the five collaborations between SJ & I. Dig into Fowler’s ‘Enemies’ site and I’ll be sure to let you know when his big book of collaborations comes out in September. If the names associated with the project are any indication, it will be a dynamic, challenging publication featuring cutting edge work from throughout Europe.

February, 2013: SJ Fowler


Fowler says: ‘The Burbs is a collaborative writing through of the city space that is not the centre, and so these poems, dotted across the globe, are neither periphery or core. The goal was to leave behind who wrote what, and become poetically annulled, as is appropriate in a celebration of the places people only go to live’.


The Poem Says:

Bled Suburbs

if there is a date to make
what if I arrive injured?
swinging a cane with pleasure, singing
this is all coming together
a student of Hebrew
a Scot
delayed at the threshold by the English
rewriting / a marsh
that kills an army
blue cross
dark red beef cross family feelings
let’s abandon the discussion in
favour of poetry that is comedy
that is not song
that is what time slows down to
stick a pin in meat

I have a yellow heart
an apple
a burned-out physic Dodge
I can psychic drive
38 dollars and
desert desert desert
a wilderness of mirrors
in my left pocket, no
right pocket, rain
where my right pocket should be
You are right
to ask questions. You are left
turn at the light. I have one
thing I never talk about
another I can’t stop breathing.
What is a name
if you don’t know the eye,
the color red?

so I’m trained now
steven did you know, that even if you
have bad knees and can crouch down,
you can actually lean your torso
forwards from your hips? it’s called
bending over ooo tiny rabbit, i see your moon
but your health is crucial
to the inflatable you can’t resist
puffing air into your chest and pushing
into rain and I only remember
my mother’s maiden name
when they ask, steven did you hear
the shaking keeps you steady
you should know


RVW says: I was genuinely flattered when SJ asked if we could make a sequence of poems together. I had no idea what to expect or if I would totally embarrass myself / ourselves in this process. Not only was Fowler generous in his encouragement but he also seemed fearless in a way that was very freeing. I could toss out insane non-sequitors, drop an F-bomb, shift the poem radically and know that he’d run with it. Further, I think we had a genuine conversation though the work – we both stole from our discussions or emails and it was heartening to see Fowler use my own words against me. I can’t say enough kind things about this avant-garde provacatour. I remain inspired by his work and his commitment to the form.