Ryan returns for Four Simmer, A Night of Poetry and Flavour

July 3, 2017

I’ll be hosting Four Simmer, a new session of poetry and food at the Edinburgh Food Studio, 7.30pm, Friday 28 July. Hope to see you there.

This unique collaboration series between food & poetry will use flavour, scent, and colour in response to some of Scotland’s most distinct voices. A delicious evening which will touch all of your senses.

Hosted by Salitre award winning poet  Ryan Van Winkle, ‘Simmer’ pairs four poets with dishes carefully selected & prepared to illuminate and echo their work. Readings will be from Emily Ballou, JL Williams, Ron Butlin, and Tom Pow.

Emily Ballou is an Australian poet, novelist and screenwriter. The Darwin Poems (University Western Australia Press) was awarded the 2010 Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize, highly commended in the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, the Mary Gilmore Prize, the ALS Gold Medal and the WA Premier’s Prize. She lives in Scotland.

Books by JL Williams include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015) and House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016). A new collection exploring the fine line between abundance and apocalypse, After Economy, was published by Shearsman Books in May 2017. She is interested in expanding dialogues through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in cross-form work, visual art, dance, opera and theatre.

With an international reputation as a prize-winning novelist, RON BUTLIN is a former Edinburgh Makar / Poet Laureate. He has published nearly twenty books and his work has won many prizes and been translated into over a dozen languages. His previous novel, Ghost Moon, was nominated for the international IMPAC Prize 2016. This year sees the publication of a new novel,Billionaires’ Banquet; a novel for early teens, Steve & FranDan Take on the World; and a book of verse for children, Day of the Trolls! He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and their dog. His website:

Tom Pow has written across a range of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, drama and works for children. But he is primarily a poet. His work explores the domestic, but it also travels to other places and other periods. Dear Alice, Narratives of Madness concerns the legacy of a nineteenth century lunatic asylum, while A Wild Adventure is a speculative poetic biography of Thomas Watling, a Dumfries forger transported to Botany Bay. In The Becoming, New and Selected Poems, was published in 2009 and Recolectores de Nueces, a bi-lingual selection of poems, translated by Jorge Fondebrider, was published in Mexico in 2016.

If you would like to join in this evening of thought, lyrics and flavours, please book early to avoid disappointment. If the previous iteration of Simmer is anything to go by, it will be a surefire success, and a joy for all. The dinner costs £42 per person, with an optional drinks pairing of £35 with drinks chosen to match the menu, and of course, the poems. Dinner is served at 8pm and guests are welcomed to join us from 7:30 onwards.

Ryan Comperes the Highlight Arts Launch

September 30, 2014

This Thursday 2 October I’ll have the great pleasure of hosting and introducing a night of poetry, music and cinema to launch Highlight Arts, the organisation formerly known as Reel Festivals. The line-up is outstanding, including Golan Haji coming all the way from Syria, doors are at 7.30pm, tickets are free but do book in advance.

Join us for the launch of HIGHLIGHT ARTS.

FREE EVENT with international music, poetry and film, featuring:
– Shooglenifty
– Golan Haji (Syria)
– Krystelle Bamford
– Emily Ballou
– Kaela Rowan
– DJ Dolphin Boy
– Short films from Iraq, Syria and more…
– Complimentary food and drink

Thursday October 2nd 2014
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Start: 7.30pm

Tickets are FREE but limited to 4 per person – available via website or box office.
Tel: 0131 556 9579

Event details:

The team behind Reel Festivals (Reel Syria, Reel Iraq and Reel Afghanistan), would like to invite you to join us in ushering in a new era as ‘Reel’ becomes ‘Highlight Arts’ (

Featuring a hand-picked selection of international music, poetry and film from Reel’s ground-breaking projects past, present and a with a nod to what’s in store for the future.

Just announced: Syrian poet and author Golan Haji will be flying in for the event and will be involved in some poetry translations.

What: Highlight Arts Launch

Where: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43 High Street, Edinburgh

When: Thursday 2 October, 7.30pm

How Much: FREE.

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

HOT Golden Hour Summer Line-up!!

June 14, 2009

goldhourjuneWe’ve got AMAZING Golden Hours planned for June and July with a spectacular August Extravaganza. There will be reading, drinking and dancing! Have a look. You will not call me a liar.

What: The Golden Hour
Where: The Forest – 3 Bristo Place
When: June 17, July 22nd, august 19th; 8pm
How Much: Free
Booze: BYOB (please pay corkage)

June 17th

Emily Ballou: The good poet launches her new book The Darwin Poems.


Lauren Pope: Poems. Sass. More Poems.

Dave Coates & Fiona Morrison releasing new chapbooks.

St. Jude’s Infirmary – a rare acoustic set. A deep treat for the ears.

Sarah J Tingle: little songs on a little guitar.

White Heath: a blend of space-rock and tribal noise


Visual Rubbish:

More Cartoons from Mr. Dan Meth

July 22nd

Kei Miller – An excellent reader of depth whose book, There is an Anger That Moves, is one moving collection. (recomended reading for Homecoming Scotland)

Niki Andrikopoulou  – All the way from Greece with fine new words.

Russell Jones releasing his  new Chapbook of sci-fi poems.


Gary Stewart – upbeat folk-music is relaxed, unpretentious and well-played.


Half Sisters – joyus songs to fall in love with.


Meursault – starry-eyed electronica with cotton-picking wreaths of banjo plucks and ukulele strums.


Visual Rubbish:

More Cartoons from Mr. Dan Meth

the-paper-cinema-kora-weekendAugust 19th — The Festival Special

Readers / Writers:

Jen Hadfield – a remarkably original and inventive poet who recently won the TS Eliot prize.

Ryan Van Winkle – poems & stories from the Reader in Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library.

Nick Holdstock – short stories which grow inside you like golden crocuses.

Ericka Duffy – hot new prose from her hot new chapbook called The Succubus!

Benjamin Morris – Poetry and life lessons from the number one gentleman.

Jason Morton – stories that can eat bricks.


Jane Flett – seamstress of most fetching stories.

Music / Song Writers:

Billy Liar – Acoustic + infectious punk.

Jed Milroy – singer songwriter and hunter finally back from the Woods.

Withered Hand – intense, eccentric, bittersweet and very wry original songs.


Jonny Berliner – Joyus songs about crustacaens, exhaustion, and gluecose.


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

Visual Amazement:

Paper Cinema and Kora

A cast of hand-drawn marionettes are magically brought to life. This is what happens at the accidental meeting of inkblots, photocopies, cardboard, angle-poise lamps, the occasional table, video technology, a laptop and a banana box.