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Featured Poet


Ryan Van Winkle






Ryan Van Winkle took up position as Reader in Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library and the Edinburgh City Libraries in 2008. He runs a monthly literary cabaret called The Golden Hour and is an Editor at Forest Publications. He lives in Edinburgh but is still an American (and he says ‘Tomato’ that way). His work has appeared in New Writing ScotlandThe American Poetry ReviewAGNI, Northwords Now and The Oxford Poet series.


He has won Salt’s Crashaw Prize – resulting in the publication of his critically praised first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here in 2010 – and been shortlisted for the Bridport and Ver Poetry Prizes. Ryan is taking a break from residence duties until January 2012 when he’ll be returning to Edinburgh City Libraries for all new poetry sessions and support. In the meantime, you can enjoy him on The Scottish Poetry Library’s weekly podcast.

Ryan is an eclectic live performer and host and will be appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival alongside Rachael Boast and Will Eaves on Saturday 20 August at 8.30pm; 

He will also be hosting the Golden Hour as part of the book festival's Unbound strand on Thursday 18 August.




Tomorrow, We Will Live Here




Tomorrow, We Will Live Here is Ryan Van Winkle's first collection and has been earning glowing reviews. Here's some quotes to whet your appetite: 


‘this collection seems to be at the forefront of a shift to something new, it is on the way to a perfection of some new movement…’

-         The Glasgow Review


'John Glenday is right to link Van Winkle’s poems to paintings of Edward Hopper’s, and it is possible to extend this comparison to the voyeurism inherent to Hitchcock’s Rear Window (a poem such as ‘The Apartment’ makes this clear just from its form on the page).. Yet Van Winkle’s insight into natural, cultural and social processes finds him surprisingly comparable to writers such as Barry Lopez and A. R. Ammons when he describes, at the end of ‘Retrieving the Dead’, how one should ‘lift the soldiers up, try not to breathe till they’re tossed/into our trenches of tea bags, messed diapers, spare parts.’ Indeed, Van Winkle’s poems are not static portraits of men and women framed in windows or doorways, but poems with characters that move within their environments and which, with their histories, move the reader.' 


-- Isabel Galleymore at Eyewear


You can read more from the Salt Publishing Blog:


You can buy the book here:





My 100-Year-Old Ghost


My 100-year-old ghost
sits up with me when the power cuts,


tells about the trout at Unkee’s Lake,
the wood house burned on the hill.


He says he was intimate
with every leaf of grass.


Wore one hat for Griswold,
another for his own field,


the possibilities of the century laid out;
an endless string of fishing pools.


But they never got ahead of my ghost -
he took them like cows, one at a time,


never lusted for the color of trout
in a pool a mile away.


He knew from the smoke in the sky
Mrs. Johnson was starting supper,


and, in March when the candles appeared,
he knew Bobby’s boy had died.


My ghost only ever had one bar
where the keeper didn’t water his drinks,


nor did he feel the need to hide his moth cap,
his potato clothes, or scrub himself birth pink.


My ghost tells me there was a time
you’d look out and not find a Dairy Queen.


You could sit on your porch a whole life
and never think about China.


Sometimes I see my ghost
bringing cut sunflowers to his wife


and it seems so simple.
Then, sometimes, it is dark


he’s just in from work and Griswold says
they ain’t going to raise his pay.


And even back then the power went out,
long nights when they had no kerosene.


And my ghost tries to sell me on simpler times:
the grass soft, endless


lampless nights,
pools of crickets singing.



Last Night, I Should Have Driven Straight Home

Today the breakers are clear,
sharp, sure in the sun.

And out there, in the squint of distance,
the waves have conversations.

They do not stop.

Somewhere out there in all the talk talk talk,
somewhere out there sits Paris, all the lights.

The waves hit the rocks hard for a secret.

And I believe the clouds will burn,
leave the day to blue sky,

sweating white sand, screens of heat
obscuring everything.

The seaweed yawns ashore.

Somewhere the Sacré Coeur and closer :
a kitchen, beans soaking, an apron

tied tight around a growing waist.




One Day the Will


says to call back
if it fits

in           to 

my busy

There is a time 
we [will] talk

His hair white and gloss as paper.

The veins in his hands; slugs plump with ink.

The paper.
His sign.

[             ]


First published in AGNI Magazine



 They Will Go On

The western horizon is still lightning blue.
To the east, everything is side-of-the-bridge grey.
I am patient as trees and flowers, desert cacti.

The grandkids hide inside with swollen eyes
and I want the rain to come quick, slap
their pale necks. I've counted the summers left

and the young should take this rain beside me
as I took father's wheat, corn, and whole bloody harvest.
I roll one more September cigarette,

Summer coughs her last cough ;
a dribble from which the children hide,
stay dry as rain loosens soil.




You can visit Ryan’s website here





Ryan has a spoken word album of new and unpublished material available for free on his website. 'Red Like Our Room Used to Feel' is an intimate recording of Ryan's work mixed elegantly with electronic backing from Ragland.


Released by Forest Records on 1st February 2010, “Red, Like Our Room Used To Feel” is a collaboration between Ryan Van Winkle and Ragland. Featuring 18 tracks, merging poetry and soundscapes, the album is the soundtrack to Ryan’s performance piece which premièred at the Hidden Door festival in Edinburgh on 30th and 31st January 2010.



More information and download here:


Ryan is also the host of the popular Scottish Poetry Podcast produced with Colin Fraser from Anon Magazine. He's interviewed dozens of poets and entertainers from the comedian David O' Docherty to TS Elliot Prize Winner Philip Gross. You can find them all on the SPL website here:


You can find more audio, interviews and news on Ryan's website:



All poems on this page are the copyright © of Ryan Van Winkle











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