We are completely thrilled to announce that Ryan Van Winkle has won the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year for his atmospheric collection The Good Dark. Published in April 2015, The Good Dark includes poems from Ryan’s one-on-one poetry show Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel, one of the best-rated shows at Edinburgh […]
Published in April 2015, The Good Dark includes poems from Ryan’s one-on-one poetry show Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel, one of the best-rated shows at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 and described by Lyn Gardner in The Guardian as ‘intimate and haunting’.
Having chosen Scotland as my adopted home, this is a very special honor for me. I did not expect this at all & am proud that the Saltire Society found The Good Dark worthy. I am flattered and grateful for this distinction.
Ryan Van Winkle
The Good Dark has been praised by The Scotsman as ‘channelling Bob Dylan at his trippy, visionary best… hits home like a punch to the sternum’ and by The Skinny as ‘[moving] between stabbing pain, deep melancholy and cautious optimism, always with the same gentle touch’. His first full collection since 2010, The Good Dark cements Van Winkle’s reputation as one of the most evocative poets writing today. Through a lyric voice both familiar and strangely different, he leads the reader through shifting forests of memory and towards a grim acknowledgement of the need to get up, to be careful, to move.
Ryan Van Winkle was born in New Haven, Connecticut and lives in Edinburgh. His debut collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review and Scotland on Sunday. He has performed the poetry/theatre show Red, Like Our Room Used to Feel at Battersea Arts Centre, London Literature Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2012. His second collection, The Good Dark, was published by Penned in the Margins and won the Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year 2015.
It is not compound interest; it is the belief
in compound interest, the reaping we share
or avoid as we accept and deny death.
We think of atoms or protons or quarks;
we count to a trillion with metaphors right round the earth.
But the spring of black mucus does not make a boy believe.
The rain comes to wash away snow.
For years Mom kept Gran’s lungs
in a box beneath the dogwood tree
only she could see, from the kitchen,
washing dishes, frying a simple egg
that will lay in the belly, get buried there
so solid for a while, forgotten
by the time lunch rolls around. And
when the day comes to unbury her lungs
– I present the lights, Dad’s face is a veil,
Peter’s shoulders drape. She’s soaking salt,
sky black. Snotty clouds pull apart.
If she got to heaven, if she went down,
her lamp still on but she’s not reading,
she’s scratching her chest, Lord knows.
And we found dust, wrote our childish names
with small fingers, put out the lights,
eyes wet with belief.