ryan van winkle

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!

RuthMills
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!

RoseanneReid

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

Ev’ry Time We Say GoodBye (Edinburgh)…End of Season Shows!

Friday 19th June, 7pm, The Bongo Club, Cowgate, Edinburgh. With Ross Sutherland, Hannah Silva, Dan Willson (Withered Hand), Ryan Van Winkle and Caro Bridges. Tickets £5, and available in advance here

…we die a little..

And thus it ends…for this Season at least. We’ve come to the end of our third year Rally-ing & Broad-ing about the place, and we’re aff for a nap in July*. But we couldn’t go without saying goodbye… and what a goodbye it will be. Celebrating all things au revoir, a bientot, toodlepip, farewell and see ye soon with us…

[*Never fear, loves: plots are afoot for Season 4, starting from October, and we’ll be bobbing about Edinburgh in August too…come see us with our very own solo shows at SHIFT/ at Summerhall!]

ROSS SUTHERLAND!

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One of the UK’s top poets and performers. Author of four collections of poetry, member of the Aisle 16 collective, and currently touring acclaimed new show ‘Standby For Tape Back-Up’, Sutherland is an ingenious writer of stunningly unique work.

Beautifully crafted, strikingly original”★★★★ The Telegraph

Dizzyingly clever”★★★★ The Independent

http://www.rosssutherland.co.uk

HANNAH SILVA!

HannahSilvaSchlock

Hannah Silva is a poet, playwright and performer known for her innovative explorations of form, voice and language in performance. Her work explores a wide range of subjects: from political rhetoric (Opposition) to paranormal science (Total Man), teenage sexual identity (Orchid) to long distance running (Marathon Tales). Her current performance, Schlock!, is a meditation on pain, the body and the self, consent, complicity and ownership. She has given some of the most jaw dropping sets on a Rally & Broad stage, and we’re absolutely delighted to have her back in Edinburgh.

“One of the most ambitious and entertaining poets in the country.” (The Times)

http://hannahsilva.co.uk/

DAN WILLSON aka WITHERED HAND!

Withered-Hand17SecondsBlog

A set of beautifully executed songs from one of Scotland’s most gifted songwriters. Described as ‘The UK’s best lyricist’ by King Creosote in The Independent, Dan’s live solo performances are fragile, beautiful and uplifting.

“Endlessly loveable stuff” (NME)

http://witheredhand.com/

RYAN VAN WINKLE!

RyanVanWinkleRallyandBroad

Ryan’s critically praised first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010 and won the Crashaw Prize. A forthcoming second collection is forthcoming from Penned in the Margins. An Edinburgh-based poet and live-artist, Ryan has toured nationally and internationally including at the Erbil Literature Festival in Iraq; as part of the Auld Enemies tour, and the Wordstorm Festival in Darwin. He’s recently launched his new collection The Good Dark with Penned In The Margins, and we’re excited to hear from it. Ryan is also an endlessly generous promoter, collaborator, tour organiser, podcast maestro and overall galvanising force for the Edinburgh poetry scene (although he’d never admit it, and you probably don’t realise you’ve been galvanised until he’s left the building). The Golden Hour, which ran at The Forest in Bristo Place, was one of the inspirations behind Rally & Broad…oh look what you’ve done, Ryan! xx

“Here is a new and authentic voice with a punch in the language.” — Penelope Shuttle

http://ryanvanwinkle.com/

and CARO BRIDGES!

CaroBridgesReverbnation

Summery and sweet, varied and interesting, Caro’s words and tunes can’t fail to make you smile. Having performed extensively, both solo and with her band The River, Caro returns to the The Bongo Club after being support act for A New International’s album launch, hosted by Rally & Broad. We loves her.

https://carobridges.bandcamp.com/

And with all the usual spraffling, raffling and lyrical nonsense from your hosts Rally (Jenny Lindsay) & the Broad (Rachel McCrum). Ours is a double brandy and Red Bull, and some Nytol, aye? We’ll pour the champagne. xx

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The Apology Shop – Edinburgh!

Pictures! The Apology Shop @The Bongo Club, Edinburgh on Friday 23rd January. With Christopher Willatts (and special guest Toby Mottershead), Emily Dodd, special guest Ryan Van Winkle […it was a special guest kinda night… Ed.], Francesca Beard, the mighty Hector Bizerk, Rally, the Broad & hunners of audience. It was a Good Show. 

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