Ryan Eckes

2016 Pew Fellow

1/5: Ryan Eckes, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/5: Ryan Eckes, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/5: Photo courtesy of Ryan Eckes.
4/5: Ryan Eckes’ Valu-Plus, Furniture Press Books. Photo courtesy of the artist.
5/5: Ryan Eckes. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“If history is an ongoing shared rootedness to a place, then poetry is made of voices and materials that hash out that place; that testify to the inextricability of our fates.”

Ryan Eckes’ (b.1979) narrative-driven poetry is, in his words, “a possible form of history:” a way to document the voices and conditions of urban life. He characterizes his writing as “deeply investigative” and “documentary-like.” Eckes’ book Old News (Furniture Press, 2011) weaves newspaper articles from the 1920s with his neighbors’ personal accounts of life in South Philadelphia in a series of poems that run between lyric and narrative. In his latest book, Valu-Plus (Furniture Press, 2014), Eckes continues his examination of Philadelphia, as he imaginatively makes use of corporate language, workplace correspondence, and other non-poetic texts, “in search of free expression and experience,” he says. Eckes is currently at work on a book about the influence of public and private transit on the conditions of city life. He has served as adjunct professor at numerous regional colleges over the past decade, and in recent years as a labor organizer in education. Eckes holds an MA in creative writing and English from Temple University.


The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy manages the largest and oldest public art program in the country, while The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia seeks to improve quality of life for all Philadelphians by facilitating collaborations between the city’s public, private, and non-profit sectors.

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