Introducing Ryan Van Winkle: Our Schools Writer in Residence

We were delighted to welcome Ryan Van Winkle as our new Citizen Schools Writer in Residence, who started working with us in October. Here, we find out more about Ryan, and the plans he has for our Citizen work with schools and young people in the coming year.


As the year draws to a close, we are delighted to introduce Ryan Van Winkle, our new Citizen Schools Writer in Residence. Ryan has been working with us since October and has already made a brilliant impact on Citizen, the Book Festival’s long-term creative communities programme which works in partnership with organisations in North Edinburgh, Musselburgh and Tollcross.

Ryan Van Winkle is an author, artist and producer based in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation and New Writing Scotland. He was awarded the Jessie Kesson fellowship at Moniack Mhor in 2018.

As well as working as the Book Festival’s Citizen Schools Writer in Residence, he is currently also Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. He is the Creative Director of Golden Hour Productions, which has been producing innovative live literature experiences since 2006, and through his work with Highlight Arts, has organised festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq.


Ryan standing by a table of collaged images


Through our new partnership with St Thomas of Aquin’s High School in Tollcross, Ryan has been working with an Advanced Higher class and an S2 class to help the students to tap into their creative side, develop their writing skills and build up their confidence. Plans are underway for a partnership with Craigroyston Community High School, and Ryan will begin to facilitate sessions with The Citizen Collective in the new year.

Ryan hosted our Citizen our recent Stories & Scran event at the Brunton Theatre, part of our Citizen Winter Warmer. He delivered a special series of Winter Warmer workshops alongside artist, maker and songwriter Hailey Beavis. The young people at St Thomas’s used collage techniques to create index cards and political statement badges. One student reflected on the session: “That was really fun. I wish I could stay here... Why do the fun lessons always go so fast? I wish we had more time.”


Collaged index card


Citizen provides a platform for communities to explore their connections to each other and their relationship to their local area, and looks at how local conversations are echoed on a national or global level. To explore this further, Ryan plans to present our Citizen work in dynamic new ways at the August Festival in 2022, working with young people to explore what society would look like if we could design it from scratch.

Noëlle Cobden said: “We are delighted to welcome Ryan on board. His experience, talent and energy are fantastic. In just a few short weeks he has developed a strong relationship and delivered innovative creative sessions with the pupils at St Thomas’s. We can't wait to see what he and the pupils will co-create in the coming months.”


Citizen is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and funded through the PLACE Programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government- through Creative Scotland - the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals.

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