[LineBreak] Paula Meehan: People Make The Songs

April 10, 2016

Season 1 of The Link Break comes to an end and our special guest is Paula Meehan, an Irish poet and playwright. Paula’s work is much translated and celebrated; among the prizes she has won are The Martin Toonder Award (1995), the Butler Literary Award (1998) and the Denis Devlin Award (2002). In this episode Paula speaks generously about her childhood, her Catholic upbringing, witnessing ‘living’ history in Ireland, and the role of private speech in the public domain. There’s more poetry sparks too, as Ryan considers all the beds he’s ever slept in (and so will you).

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

[LineBreak] Ouyang Yu: Creative Mistakes

April 5, 2016

This month, Ryan talks to the Australian poet, Ouyang Yu. Born in China, Yu is a controversial figure within Australian literature, often exploring the dilemmas of transnational artists caught between different literary, cultural and linguistic traditions in a raw, uncompromising style that he has made his own (Yu himself refers to the ‘polished’ poem as “an arse wiped clean”). In this interview, Ryan and Ouyang discuss language barriers, mis-prints and the importance of making ‘creative mistakes’. Plus, more poetry sparks!

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

[LineBreak] Mark Doty: Desire

March 31, 2016

We’re starting the New Year on a high. This month, The Line Break listens in on the wonderful Mark Doty, poet and author of Deep Lane, recently nominated for the T S Eliot Prize. And back with two more poetry sparks, Ryan has you writing transcendentally about the mundane, and exploring the things you shouldn’t say.

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

[Line Break]: Caroline Bird: Punched in the Dark

December 3, 2015

Is there joy in sorrow? Can tragedy ever be funny? This month, our guest is Caroline Bird, a poet who delights in troubling sensibilities and leading her audience down the garden path before swiftly turning the hose on them. Where other poets might tell it like it is, Ryan and Caroline explore how the most meaningful poems can often be found at the far corners of things, and how poetry finds truth in a world of ‘no facts’ and ‘not saying’. Plus, more poetry sparks from Ryan! So lean in, listener, but be careful – there’s a fist aimed at your heart.

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

[LineBreak] Alvin Pang: One More Ghost

November 14, 2015

The power of poetry comes partly from its ability to explode a language when it no longer feels adequate enough to explain the extraordinary times we live in. This month on The Line Break, Ryan talks to the Singapore-born poet, editor and translator – Alvin Pang – about multiculturalism and poetry as a force of resistance: against public expectations, political oppression and cultural efficiencies, as well as our own longings, ambivalences, lost hopes, fears and anxieties. Alvin recites a few of his extraordinary poems, and Ryan sets two more poetry sparks for you all to try out: writing family, and lashing out against bullies, bosses, and dictators.

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

Produced by Culture Laser Productions @culturelaser

Line Break Episode One: Philip Gross

June 10, 2015

The Poetry School welcomes you to this new poetry podcast, our very first!

For our pilot outing of The Line Break, host Ryan Van Winkle re-visits his 2013 interview with TS Eliot-prize winner, Philip Gross, ranging across making up names for colours, comparing the similarities of poetry and making scones, and asking what happens in the thought vortex of ‘What if, what then?’

Listeners to The Line Break can also join the The Line Break group on CAMPUS, the Poetry School’s free online community for poets.

Ryan in a new podcast for The Poetry School

June 2, 2015

Good news! I’ll be hosting a brand new podcast, ‘The Line Break’ for The Poetry School, starting tomorrow, Wed 3 June. It’ll appear monthly, and we hope you’ll lend us your ears.

The Line Break is a free monthly podcast about writing poetry, hosted by Ryan Van Winkle and produced by Colin Fraser. For over 7 years Ryan and Colin  have been providing high-quality podcasts for the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Book Trust, in addition to their own Creative Scotland funded Culture Laser programme. Now, we’re very happy to welcome them to CAMPUS for this new podcast series.

During The Line Break, Colin and Ryan will be re-visiting the archives and bringing you some of their favourite interviews and readings with poets from around the world, the ones which have stuck with us most over the years. Blended with the archive recordings will be Ryan’s exclusive new commentary, introducing fresh themes, additional ideas, and creative provocations.

Each episode, Ryan will also offer a few ‘poetry sparks’ for you to try out, opportunities to pause the podcast and work on your own poem-writing assignments. You might have ten minutes to free-write names for an imaginary paint chart, or be asked to describe what a boat made of poetry might look like; every episode will offer a multitude of fun exercises that can be easily fitted into a lunch break or the commute home.

Listeners to the podcast will also be able to subscribe to the The Line Break CAMPUS group, where Ryan will be dropping in supporting material and other poetry bits and bobs, as well as providing a free space where everyone can upload their own poems written in response to each episode.

You can listen to The Line Break on CAMPUS, on Podamatic, and also via the Scottish Poetry Library, as well as subscribing using all the usual services (iTunes, Instacast, etc.) Just look us up! The Poetry School has commissioned an initial season of ten episodes of The Line Break, and with enough success and support, we hope to bring the podcast back for another season.

We sincerely hope that The Line Break becomes your regular poetry coffee break, a little creative lacuna away from the workstation where you can pause your day-to-day thoughts and find some time to listen to and think about poetry, and write some poems of your own.

Listen in this Wednesday 3 June for the launch of the pilot episode.”

Poetry School Spring Term Launch

January 9, 2015

Very pleased to be part of the reading team for the Poetry School’s Spring Term Launch. I’ll be performing alongside Róisín Tierney and students from the Poetry School. The event is free, so do come early. It’d be lovely to see you there.

Launch the new term with us!

The Tea House Theatre is a cosy venue ten minutes down the road from the Poetry School’s London classrooms, and right on the doorstep of Vauxhall station. Perfect for poetry, the stage is a large magic carpet spread out in front of a fireplace, and the audience ranges cabaret style round chairs and tables and battered leather sofas.

Their cakes are very good.

We’ll be launching the new courses and workshops of our term which starts in January, and celebrating the work of our students.

* Readings from Spring Term tutors Rosin Tierney (teaching a course on the poetry of place) and Ryan Van Winkle (running an online course on writing what you don’t know), and students from Simon Barraclough’s recent poetry and Samuel Beckett course

(The cat image is from – the best source of Samuel Beckett motivational quote cat posters)

Readings start from 7.30pm, doors are open for drinking and chatting from 6.30pm.

The Tea House Theatre, 139 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HL

Get there early to reserve a seat – entrance is free

Ryan Teaches in the Poetry School

November 16, 2014

Very pleased to announce I’ll be doing some online teaching through the Poetry School, taking a course titled ‘Write What You Don’t Know: Research, Writing and the Apparently Confessional‘. The course is five fortnightly online chat sessions every Friday at 7pm, if that sounds like your kind of thing please do sign up! Here’s the blurb:

It is a common misconception that poets write autobiographical works which centre solely on their own experiences. In this course we aim to challenge that notion and will work on writing poetry through research, quotation and character. The course will involve a wide-range of assignments asking students to research science, history, political events, and even to imagine a distant future. We will attempt to write about countries we’ve never been to, wars we’ve never experienced, theories we don’t understand, disasters we had no part in and photos in which our faces don’t appear. The course will use journalism, photographs, streaming audio and video to offer a broad range of inspiration and source material.

CAMPUS group:

Please note: All our online courses take place on CAMPUS, a unique social network and learning platform created by The Poetry School. These courses are open to all students but a basic level of digital literacy is essential. The Poetry School can help you with technical issues, but you also need to be a confident user of digital platforms to take part in these classes. To find out whether an online course is right for you, please email

Register for your free CAMPUS account here: