Bongo Club

6 questions for…Ryan Van Winkle

Ryan Van Winkle is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His critically praised first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010 and won the Crashaw Prize. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and was listed as one of Canongate’s ‘Future Forty’ in 2013. His poetry / theatre experiment ‘Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel‘ was one of the top ten best-rated shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 and in 2015, his second collection ‘The Good Dark’ won the Saltire Society Book of the Year. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner, The American Poetry Review, AGNI and The Australian Book Review. He was born in Connecticut and says ‘Tomato’ like an American.

We are utterly delighted to have Ryan as our headline poet at Rally & Broad’s ‘Hangover Special’ at The Bongo Club on Friday 22nd January. Ahead of this, Rally & Broad Officer-In-Chief Josephine Sillars asked him a few questions…

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1. Your latest collection, The Good Dark, recently won the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year! How does it feel to have won, and do you have a favourite poem from the collection?

 

Thanks very much. There’s many great books published every year so it was surprising to be nominated and jaw-dropping to hear I’d won. Of course, it feels wonderful to be acknowledged but, mostly, I hope it means a few more people might find their way to my book and to the others on the shortlist. However, that was all the way back in November, so I felt dreamy for a few days and then thought – shit, now I have to write another book.

I don’t really have a favorite poem but I do seem to read ‘Summer Nights, Walking‘ a lot.

2. One of the many projects you have worked on over the past few years was Reel Festivals / Highlight Arts, of which it is the belief that the arts can be used as a tool to promote unity and solidarity with communities and individuals from around the world. How important is this idea in your own literary work?

Thanks to Highlight Arts (nee Reel Festivals) I’ve been privileged to work with brave & talented poets as well as translators &organizers from Iraq, the High North, Pakistan and Syria. I help with literary programming and translating activities which meanspart of what I do is bring poets from the UK together with poets from these regions to work on new translations face to face. It is a very intimate process & I’m proud to facilitate it alongside committed translators and organizers all of whom believe that the creation of good art (and access to it) is paramount. So, while we do have this very beautiful & idealistic objective – the practice itself is tactile and based on making and sharing work. The artists who work together, we feel, have a tangible relationship which can be presented on stage (or in film or books) offering a glimpse into another culture and, importantly, the bonds between friends, artists and peoples.

What I end up thinking about and learning about is how people are wildly kind, generous and loving all over the world and that the differences between people across cultures are far less significant than our similarities. It turns out that kids skip school in Damascus, that radio stations in Erbil play recognizable hits, that there’s people everywhere who enjoy a good boogie. It is always astounding to see in how this kind of common ground, obvious whenever one sits across from another person, helps us to empathize with those whose experiences are wholly unique.

So, with my own poems I feel that the very act of writing something is an act which attempts to bridge a gap between individuals &that requires empathy, imagination and honesty. So, my work doesn’t exist to explicitly ‘promote unity and solidarity with communities and individuals from around the world‘. But might be fair to say that my work with Highlight Arts has been informed by my efforts as a writer – as someone who attempts to use language to close a distance between myself and a reader. I believe, and have witnessed, how we can connect with people whose experiences are outside our own, and these experiences can inform the way we speak and act in our own lives. Art, like the range of human emotions, spans generations and cultures. Anyone who has experienced musicians during a jam session will have seen this and it is the same when poets or visual artists work together. We have a cultural bond with each other which transcends.

Which sounds ridiculously lofty and not at all something I think about when I’m writing a poem. The poems themselves are largely personal affairs, often an effort to explain something of myself to myself.

3. In 2012, you wrote in the Edinburgh Review that ‘for many working in the Edinburgh arts scene, it has been and remains a fight’. In your opinion, is this still the case in 2016?

As a poet I’m fortunate to work in one of the quieter art forms. Writers don’t take up much space or need much in the way of resources which is why Edinburgh is such a great city for us. There’s plenty of events and opportunities on every level – from the grassroots to the professional.

However, as someone whose helped to organize live and loud stuff – theatre and gigs at the Forest and with Forest Fringe etc – it is a hard city to work in. Partly, people say, that’s because of Edinburgh’s population size and therefore limited audience – though I think the number of sold-out, high quality events happening regularly kind of refutes that notion. Personally, I think running an autonomous space here takes a lot of effort and money. So, I think musicians, theatre makers, and independent venues supporting local talent have a harder time than necessary in the city, especially the city centre.

From what I can see, Hidden Door, Out of the Blue, Leith Late and groups like ‘Desire Lines’ and ‘Music is Audible’ have made a real effort to sustain a dialogue between the city and the artists and organizers who choose to work in it and increase its profile, economy and livibility. I think some individuals on the council get it and are listening but I’m not sure what steps they can take to redress thefact that it is fraying and onerous at the moment to run an autonomous space in the heart of the city.

3. As well as your published work, I have heard from a reliable source (Broad) that you have put on some superb one man one shows. Are there any challenges to writing a performance piece that differ to written poetry?

I’m sure it is different for other poets but, for me, I can’t write specifically for performance. That’s not where my head is when I’m writing a poem. Often, I’m writing to myself or to a loved one, I’m writing to a small worry, a tiny sense of an idea. If I wrote specifically for performance I would totally ruin things by drifting to the polemical, the comedic, the prosaic and didactic. So, I try not to let the performance into my head too much when I’m writing something and I prefer to re-contextualize poems I’ve already written simply for the page into whatever performance or commission I’m working on. That can’t always be done, of course, like withViewMaster – I did set myself a challenge to write a 10 minute poem for each slide.

And that was daunting but I kept in mind something the poet Mario Petrucci once said to me when I was struggling to write to spec. He said something along the lines of, ‘when you’re writing for a commission, just write about what you want.’

Now, this might be a wild extrapolation (and Mario was certainly more eloquent) but I took that to mean, ‘if you’ve been thinking a lot lately about poverty or loss and you get a commission from the Forestry commission to write about wolves – find a way to shift it in the direction of your concern.’

So, after looking at a reel of Mecca or Tulip Time in Holland for the ViewMaster show, I’d just write about what I wanted. Which, in the back of my mind, was nostalgia, loss & legacy. And forgetting that I had a rough deadline and something in mind for the poem beyond the page was sometimes a challenge to getting actual words down.

4. As an American poet living in Scotland, why have you chosen to make Edinburgh your base?

It was an accident. I ended up here the same way people end up in Cleveland. A very happy accident.

6. And finally, who is your favourite writer at the moment, and is there anything that the Rally & Broad audiences should read up on before seeing you at the show? 

My favorite writer at the moment is Stephen Dunn whose poems are deceptively simple and dauntingly honest. No homework is necessary. 

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January in Edinburgh…The Hangover Special!

Friday 22nd January 2016, 7 – 10pm at The Bongo Club. Tickets available in advance (and cheaper!) here or £6 on the door.

[this is an unusual show, with two spaces being used simultaneously, so we’re asking everyone to arrive on time. Tickets in advance may be advisable!]

And lo, January was upon us, and so were the mighty mighty hangovers of a helluva year. Think we’re getting out of our PJ’s anytime soon? Think on…

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January brings with it two more of our ever popular Hangover Specials, where we celebrate all things fizzy, grotty and comfy. Just in time to set you up for the New Year. In Edinburgh, however, as we’ve been striving to do all year, we’re shaking it up like a raccoon in a whiskey barrel…

We’ll be curating two ssimultaneous spaces in the Bongo Club on the 22nd January, Rally’s room and Broad’s room, with very special acts in each and the audience swapping halfway through the night. The story goes that Rally & Broad have managed to lose their shoes, their memories and each other over the course of the night, and are trying to piece it all together…

Come help us do it! Along with some uplifting beats, beautiful dance and soothing, witty words to cure all ills from the likes of…

…BE CHARLOTTE!

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Multi-instrumentalist and astonishing vocalist whose live performances are applauded across the Scottish music scene and beyond. She blew oor little minds with her talent – and multi coloured light up trainers – in Glasgow last year, and we’re so excited to see what she’ll bring to Edinburgh this month.

http://charlotte-music.co.uk/

 

…RYAN VAN WINKLE!

Ryan Van Winkle

Edinburgh-based poet Ryan Van Winkle. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Award-winning poet whose most recent collection The Good Dark (Penned in the Margins) was awarded the Saltire Society Award for Poetry in 2015. Hurrah! So very much deserved for a man who has worked tirelessly to develop poetry in Scotland and across the world, with the Scottish Poetry Library, culturelaser podcast, his award winning solo shows including Viewmaster (with Dan Gorman) and red like our room used to feel, and of course, the glorious and chaotic triumph that was The Golden Hour. We salute you.

http://ryanvanwinkle.com/
…COLIN MCGUIRE!

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Poet and performer whose recent work explores bed, sleep, mortality and legacy and (in oor humble) is one of the most exciting, unabashedly individual, curious and idiosyncratic voices in the Scottish spoken word scene. He’ll be in his jammies too, by the way. Just sayin.’*

http://a-glaswegian.blogspot.co.uk/

…RUTH MILLS!

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One of Scotland’s leading dancers, choreographers and movement directors whose provocative, intelligent work has seen her work with other artists in many disciplines; we’re delighted to have Ruth back with a specially devised piece for the show.

http://ruthmillsdance.blogspot.co.uk/
…ROSEANNE REID!

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Up and coming folk musician and songwriter who was recently nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award, making her Rally & Broad debut. Huzzah!

https://www.facebook.com/Roseanne-Reid
* we would love it if you wanted to come along in your nightwear too. Makes us feel right at home. 

xx

Rally & Broad in December…The Takeover Editions!

Oh aye, we know it’s the weekend before Christmas, and all manner of work dos and Christmas shopping and celebrating shenanigans will be going on. Why not come down and celebrate them with a thoroughly irreverant series of takeovers for Rally & Broad? MISCHIEF WILL BE MADE. Also, dancing. Oh, this time, there will be dancin’…

xx

  • Rally & Broad meet Poets Against Humanity! With sets from Gav Prentice, Jim Monaghan and Teen Canteen. Sunday 20th December, 230 – 530pm, Stereo, Glasgow. £6 on doors or £5 in advance here.

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But what does all this actually mean…? Read on…

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There Must Be Some Kinda Way Out of Here…Nov in pictures!

So, that was a glorious weekend of words, tunes and lyrical delight from TWELVE amazing acts! We joked, we thieved, businessmen they drank our wine, and we asked for clarification for what that joker actually said to the thief… Thanks to all involved!

Said The Joker To The Thief!!

EDINBURGH (Fri 20 Nov 2015)
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Rally & Broad: Said The Joker To The Thief! (NOVEMBER LINE UPS!!)

Greetings! We hope this finds you well and grand and aw that! Thanks to all of you who came to our relaunch weekend shows in Edina, Dundee and Glasgow. Quite a perty was had! And now – to November!

We’ve lined up two top-notch bills of new voices and emerging artists for both Edina and Glasgow! Committed as we are to showcasing the best up-and-coming performers alongside more established acts, in Edina we’ve got headliner Findlay Napier alongside six new authors, performers and poets we’ve been itching to get on our stages for a while (3 from Edinburgh, 3 from Glasgow); and in Glasgow we’ve headliners Sophia Walker and Be Charlotte with new work from Hannah McGill, music from Billy Liar, and introducing South African poet and performer Toni Stuart.

Tickets for Edina: £6 on the door, £5.50 (inc booking fee) in advance here – http://www.thebongoclub.co.uk/event/rally-broad-said-the-joker-to-the-thief

Tickets for Glasgow: £6 on the door, £4.50 (plus booking fee) in advance here – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rally-broad-said-the-joker-to-the-thief-glasgow-tickets-19255200824

FINDLAY NAPIER!  

findlay napier

Acclaimed Scottish singer-songwriter. “An original, engaging treat.” (The Telegraph) “Songs full of earthy humour, hopeless love and biting satire.” (Folk Radio UK)  ★★★★  “Album of the Week: Napier is a warm, witty and engaging singer with a real gift for melody.” (The Sunday Express) More at: www.findlaynapier.com

SAM RIVIERE!

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Sam Riviere is an Eric Gregory award-winning poet who also won the Felix Dennis Award for Best First Collection in 2010 for his collection 81 Austeritieshttp://samriviere.com/

AGNES TOROK!

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A performer and poet rapidly gaining notice for her political and social commentary including hit performance poem ‘Worthless’ and solo shows ‘If You’re Happy & You Know It Take This Survey’ (2015) and ‘Sorry, I Don’t Speak Culture.’ (2014) More at: www.agnestorok.org

VICKI JARRETT!

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(Photo credit: Chris Scott)

Novelist and short story writer, whose first collection of short stories, The Way Out, was published by Freight in 2015 and was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, 2015. www.vickijarrett.com

MARTIN O’CONNOR!

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Performer, writer and theatre-maker whose work includes Theology (The Arches), Reality (The Tron), Inner Circle (Glasgow Subway Festival), Zugzwang and Manifesto (The Arches). http://www.martinoconnor.info/about.html

IONA LEE!

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Poet, artist and prose writer; an exciting new voice in the Scottish spoken word scene. Read her beautiful poems here – https://ionalee23.wordpress.com/

GENESEE!

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(Photo credit: Chris Scott)

Kenyan/ Scottish singer of poems and songs, with beautifully crafted tales and astonishing performances. Listen at: https://soundcloud.com/genesee

Trust us! These six artists PLUS our stellar musical headliner will make for a show that will knock yer socks off, should ye be wearing any.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow…

SOPHIA WALKER!

sophia walker

BBC Slam Champion (2013) Sophia Walker is an internationally renowned poet and teaching artist. Her spoken word shows have toured through theatres in the UK and internationally to critical acclaim, winning Best UK Spoken Word Show 2014,  and the awards for Best Spoken Word Show on the Edinburgh Free Fringe in 2013 and 2014. Her debut collection Opposite the Tourbus was published by Burning Eye Press in 2014. www.poetwalker.com

BE CHARLOTTE!

be-charlotte

The pitch perfect Dundee songwriter has already taken massive strides in the UK and US wowing audiences with her impeccable vocals during an absolutely captivating live show. Her performance involves live instrumentation and digital production techniques which encapsulates the spirit of an artist always willing to break the rules and pave her own way in the music industry. Listen here – http://charlotte-music.co.uk/ 

BILLY LIAR!

billy liar

  Billy Liar’s take on acoustic punk has been widely appreciated throughout the scene in recent years. With little more than his distinctive voice and trusty acoustic guitar, he writes and performs songs that are ferociously captivating. https://officialbillyliar.bandcamp.com/

HANNAH MCGILL!

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(Photo credit: Ryan McGoverne)

An author, writer, critic and former Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Hannah is also a skilled and imaginative writer of short stories, one of which she will share with us at this event!

TONI STUART!

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(Photo credit: Juan Stockenstroom)

Toni Stuart is a South African poet, performer and spoken word educator, who works both locally and internationally. In 2013, she was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 inspiring Young South Africans for her work in co-founding I Am Somebody! – an NGO that uses storytelling and youth development to build integrated communities, and in 2014, was part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Commonwealth Poets United exchange.

LINE-UPS, PALS, WHAT LINE-UPS!

(And dare we say it, for those programmers who say it’s really hard to find female performers to book…? Um. *Swipes ye with one of oor flyers* 🙂

Lord Knows I’ve Paid Some Dues.

Rally & Broad ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ – Season 4 relaunch! Friday 23rd October, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh. With Dog On A Swing (and Castle Chorus), Chrissy Barnacle, Harry Giles, Loki with Becci Wallace and Delighted People. And many fine audience folk. In association with the Mental Health Foundation, presented as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

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Rally & Broad…Le Grand Relaunch! It’s Here!

Comrades! Pals! Dearest! Lend us your whatsits! It’s finally here! Season 4 is GO! With not one but FOUR events coming up this very week…come see us in Edinburgh, Dundee and/or Glasgow, with some most excellent of friends….

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  • Friday 23rd October: ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ – Rally & Broad in association with the Mental Health Foundation. With Delighted Peoples, Loki & Becci Wallace, Harry Giles, Chrissy Barnacle and Dog On A Swing. Doors 7pm, the Bongo Club, Edinburgh. £5 on the door or in advance here. Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival.
  • Saturday 24th October: Rally & Broad at Literary Dundee! With Toby Mottershead (Black Diamond Express) and Lucy Ribchester. 9 – 1030pm, Bonar Hall, Dundee. £3/£2 on the door or in advance here.
  • Sunday 25th October: ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ (Glasgow edition). With Blue Rose Code, Martin Figura, Helen Ivory, Cat Hepburn & The Miss’s. With special guest performer, Iranian writer Sepideh Jodeyri, in association with Scottish Pen. Doors 230pm, Stereo, Glasgow. £5 on the door or in advance here.

Not only these three tasty extravaganzas to get Season 4 well and truly underway, but we’ll also be hosting the Saltire Society 2015 Literary Award Shortlist announcements on Thursday 22nd October in Edinburgh. It’s gonna be a busy old week. We can’t wait to get cracking, and we’d love to see your faces.

Catch you at the front? Ours is a raspberry martini.

xx

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