Aidan Ryan (poet)

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Aidan Ryan
Aidan Ryan poet.png
Buffalo, New York
CitizenshipUnited States of America
OccupationWriter, poet, editor, publisher
Years active2015 - present
EmployerFoundlings Press, Goldberg Segalla
Known forCo-founding Foundlings Press
Notable work
Constant Stranger: After Frank Stanford
AwardsBest New Poets 2019

Aidan Ryan (born Buffalo, New York) is an American writer and publisher, recognized in Best New Poets 2019 and known as co-founder of Foundlings Press, an independent literary publishing company.


Ryan has published poetry in magazines and papers including Slipstream Magazine,[1][2] Peach Mag, The Buffalo News,[3] Buffalo Rising,[4] The Honest Ulsterman,[5] Octavius, and Ghost City Review. In 2017 the poet and novelist Janet McNally selected his poem "At the funeral of an atheist I didn't know" as the winner of that year's Just Buffalo Literary Center Member's Competition; it was published in the newspaper The Public.[6]

In April 2017 Ryan published a collection of visual poetry, Organizing Isolation: Half-Lives of Love at Long Distance (Linoleum Press, 2017).[7] In a review, the poet and publisher Rachelle Toarmino wrote, "The collection is a portrait of ultimates—love, religion, presence, absence—formed from the fragments of letters and postcards previously sent to Ryan by his loved ones. The resulting poems feed new life into moments whose hunger has long since abated," and that "The careful manipulation of the text speaks to the magical way we sometimes manipulate memories, given enough estrangement, in an attempt at what Ryan sharply terms 'organizing isolation.'"[8] The reviewer also noted the book's unusual hardcover, letterpressed design: "[publisher Joel Brenden] adds stunning craftsmanship to Ryan’s vision and produced an art object that plays with themes of organizing and the intimacy of handwritten letters."[8] That summer, Ryan performed poetry from his collection at the Just Buffalo Silo City Summer Reading Series, along with poet Mathias Svalina and filmmaker Mary Helena Clark.[9]

Ryan was among 50 writers selected for Best New Poets 2019 by guest judge Cate Marvin.[10]


In 2015 Ryan co-founded a poetry publication, Foundlings Magazine, which later grew into Foundlings Press, based in Buffalo, NY. He currently serves as publisher. Foundlings co-founder and editor-in-chief Max Crinnin has called Ryan the "locomotive that keeps Foundlings chugging forward."[11]

Foundlings Magazine and 'Whistle Stop' political poetry tour

The magazine published its first two volumes in May 2016 and January 2017, showcasing a mix of national poets and poets local to Buffalo.[12]

Notably, in fall 2016 the magazine orchestrated a four-city reading tour with events on the nights of 2016 United States presidential election debates (with stops in Rochester, Syracuse, and Fredonia, New York, and Toronto, Ontario), featuring poets including Dane Swan, Jacob Maier, and Robert Priest.

According to the Daily Orange, the impetus was the "'bullshit' [Ryan] had to listen to on TV and the radio, to read on blogs and in the papers" in the summer of 2016. "Everyone had to say something about 2016 United States presidential election, it seemed, and to him they were all wrong. ... Even during his trip in the Bahamas, he could not get away from the sound of Donald Trump’s 'impetuous whine' or Hillary Clinton’s 'stentorian self-righteousness,' as he called it. It was exhausting to be alive." To the Toronto magazine The Varsity , Ryan stated that "that the [presidential] debates suggested themselves as an organizing principle. We’d have four stops in four cities on the nights of the presidential and vice-presidential debates … Whistle Stop was born in a flurry of emails and phone calls over the course of the next month.”

Foundlings Press and growing impact

Following the decision to turn the magazine into a small literary press, Foundlings and, as its most frequent representative, Ryan, came to be associated in local and regional media with a newly revived and "uniquely Buffalo" city literary culture.[13]

The Buffalo News art critic Colin Dabkowski, in a feature on a Foundlings publication of a poetry chapbook by Lytton Smith, noted Ryan's efforts as driven by a "frustration about a lack of pathways to poetry for the uninitiated" and aimed at "broadening the appeal of poetry beyond elite circles of academics and aspiring bards."[14] Interviewed on the Rochester radio program "Flour City Yawp," Ryan spoke of a "vacuum of leadership" since the death of the poet Robert Creeley, and a subsequent factionalism among groups of poets. He said of Foundlings Press that "we're not trying to start a revolution or anything, but I think that for an arts culture to be alive, it needs always to be changing, and we want to be part of that change."[15]

In 2018 Foundlings Press debuted an imprint, The Public Books, operated in collaboration with The Public,[16] a weekly newspaper in Western New York, largely made up of staff that departed the long-running weekly newspaper Artvoice.[16]

On behalf of Foundlings, Ryan has participated as a panelist on issues related to publishing, including Just Buffalo's "Lit Mag Roundtable" in 2018[17] and Arts Services Initiative of Western New York's Creative Professionals Exchange in 2019.[18]

Constant Stranger: After Frank Stanford

Also in 2018 Foundlings Press released Constant Stranger: After Frank Stanford, a multigenre collection of work dealing with the legacy of the poet Frank Stanford. Ryan edited the work along with Foundlings co-founder Max Crinnin. Its over 30 contributors included well-known poets such as Forrest Gander, Carolyn D. Wright, Terrance Hayes, Ada Limon, Adam Clay, and Noah Falck, as well as academics, translators, and rising MFA and PhD candidates.[19][20]

Other publishing ventures

Ryan also organized and served as managing editor for the first collection of poetry exclusively from young Buffalo writers, My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX Books, 2017). The title came from a poem of the same name by contributor Janet McNally.[21][22]

In 2019 Ryan partnered with the writer Matthew Bookin to coedit an anthology of writing from Buffalo-based authors for Doestoevsky Wannabe Press, part of its "Cities" anthology series, forthcoming in 2020.[23]

Essays and criticism

As an essayist, critic, and journalist, Ryan has published with CNN[24] , The Buffalo News, and other publications. Ryan has also published interviews with authors George Saunders for The White Review,[25] Karl Ove Knausgård for Traffic East, and Noah Falck for Rain Taxi.[26] In 2019, he authored an essay, "Dellas: A Conversation in Progress," on the photographer Mark Dellas, published by the Burchfield Penney Art Center online and in a gallery book celebrating Dellas' exhibition People and Places.[27]

Music writing

Ryan is a regular music critic for The Skinny.[28] Notable publications have included interviews with the Scottish musician and songwriter C Duncan[29] and the Russian theraminist Lydia Kavina[30]; and coverage of festivals T in the Park 2015, Positivus Festival 2015,[31] and South by Southwest (SxSW) 2016,[32] which included an interview with the band Chvrches. Ryan has also published longer essays with The Skinny, including a critical meditation on Kendrick Lamar's album DAMN.[33] and a memoir about his experience as an American relocating to Edinburgh.[34]


  1. "Issue 33 Sample Poems". Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  2. "Issue 34 Sample Poems". Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  3. "[The Brother 2014]: Organizing Isolation excerpt in The Buffalo News". Aidan Ryan. 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  4. "The Jersey of Depression". Buffalo Rising. 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  5. (, Cloud Data Service. "Poetry - Honest Ulsterman". Honest Ulsterman. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  6. "Just Buffalo Members' Contest Winners". The Public. 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  7. S, L I N O L E U M • P R E S. "Organizing Isolation / L I N O L E U M • P R E S S". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Peach Picks: Things to Read This Week". The Public. 2017-05-02. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  9. "Peach Picks: Literary Recommendations for the Week". The Public. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  10. "Best New Poets". Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  11. "Meet the press: Buffalonians print passion into Foundlings Press". Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  12. "Alumnus to premiere Buffalo-based poetry magazine". The Griffin | Canisius College. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2018-06-06.
  13. "Speak, poet: Buffalo poetry scene is diverse, vibrant and fresh". The Buffalo News. 2017-04-05. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  14. "Foundlings enters next phase with new book of art, poetry". The Buffalo News. 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  15. "WAYO 104.3FM - Rochester, NY". Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Bruce Fisher book talk TONIGHT at BPAC". Buffalo Rising. 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  17. "Lit Mag Round Table". Just Buffalo Literary Center | Buffalo, NY. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  18. "Want to build an art career in Buffalo?". Buffalo Rising. 2019-09-30. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  19. "Constant Stranger: After Frank Stanford". FOUNDLINGS PRESS. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  20. "Poetry". TheTLS. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  21. "Poem: My Next Heart by Janet McNally". A WOMEN’S THING. 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  22. "My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry". Buffalo Rising. 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2018-05-30.
  23. "About". Aidan Ryan. 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  24. "Giving in to the tug of Ireland - CNN Travel". 20 August 2014.
  25. "Interview with George Saunders - The White ReviewThe White Review". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  26. "I'm Still Trying to Figure It Out: An Interview with Noah Falck | Rain Taxi". Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  27. "Mark Dellas > Artists > Burchfield Penney Art Center". Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  28. "The Skinny – Reviews and Cultural Commentary". Aidan Ryan. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  29. "C Duncan on debut album Architect - Interview - The Skinny". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  30. "Lydia Kavina - How to play the theremin - Jura Unbound - The Skinny". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  31. "Positivus 2015 - festival review - The Skinny". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  32. "In Austin, TX for SxSW 2016". Aidan Ryan. 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  33. "The Skinny Albums of 2017 (#1): Kendrick Lamar - DAMN". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  34. "Living in Edinburgh: An ex-pat guide - The Skinny". Retrieved 2018-05-22.

External links