Friday, September 01, 2017


A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Ryan Blacketter is the author of Down in the River. He works as a mentor for PEN America's Prison Writing Program. For Writers in the Schools, he taught at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. 
Ryan's short stories appear in Antioch Review, Crab Orchard Review, Eclectica Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, Other Voices, Quick Fiction, and elsewhere. He has published essays in the Observer, the Rumpus, and Quillette. A Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee, and a former Tin House slush reader, Ryan has completed a new novella, The Argentine Woman. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Along with other Iowa grads, Ryan works part-time as a One Morgan Writers' Workshop Thesis Adviser to 8th graders at Morgan County Middle School in Georgia, conducted online.

He is also proud to volunteer for PEN America's Prison Writing Program. For a hundred years, PEN has defended writers from harassment, censorship, even the penalty of death, all over the world. 

Ryan enjoyed teaching creative writing at Lincoln High School in Portland, OR. His 9th graders' stories exploring the mysteries of pizza and aliens--or sometimes very serious subjects--were a blast to read. He looks forward to living in a city that has a WITS program very soon.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Ryan is a contributer at the Observer

Click here for Ryan's "Catcher" article in the Observer and here for his Hemingway essay.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Reviews for Down in the River: Fiction Writers Review, Paste, The Rumpus, Largehearted Boy, etc.

Reviews, interviews and endorsements of 
Ryan Blacketter's Novel, Down in the River.

Fiction Writers Review: "What makes this novel so warm and heartbreaking despite its gruesome material is that all the characters are driven by their love and concern for each other." Click here to read the entire review: Fiction Writers Review

The Rumpus: "[Down in the River] casts us deep into a haunting, crystalline forest of ice-lit trees, broken streetlamps . . . a place where a kind of inner wilderness has crept back through the city, where the lights of passing trains, the reflections of windows and the 'cry of night birds' appear intermittently like forms of meaningless chaos or secret signs." The Rumpus

Paste Magazine's interview with Ryan Blacketter: "The human story is a fairly dark one with painful and dangerous impulses that we all have. And that's coupled with a fortress-like psychology that most people have, protecting them from the awareness of the fact that they are part of this human experience." Paste Magazine

Buy Down in the River:

Monday, April 03, 2017

Why I Stood up for Milo Despite Mixed Feelings

My support for Milo's First Amendment right doesn't amount to endorsing his many disgusting remarks. I support anyone's right to speak, right or left, religious or atheist, especially those who have been the target of censorship, or "no platforming," as censorship is often called now. As the ACLU recently asserted, everyone has the right to speak.

Here are a few of the highly critical statements I make about Milo in my Observer article.

"Without a doubt, Milo was rude and nasty. He said fat people were 'fucking disgusting.' He said 'shame on you' to women in the audience who wore a hijab . . .

"Enter Milo, in pearls and lipstick, a curious soldier in the free-speech cause. Many students were gleeful to find a fighter every bit as nasty as the campus cultural warriors who sought to silence them . . .

"My own feeling is that Milo was often thin stuff—he was one-dimensional, neglecting to locate any other personality trait that might mitigate his constant judgments about people on the left. He forever quoted silly statistics and 'facts.' 'The federal government spent three million dollars last year working out why (lesbians) are all so fat.' His rhetoric was absent goodwill that might truly persuade, and therefore he lacked complexity and depth on the stage. In short, too much stupidity issued from his pretty mouth. 'Ugly people have always been the leaders of the progressive movement.' Such comments, one after another, embolden the mean, alienate the good, and tire the ones in between . . .

"Milo revealed little depth or human warmth. He was no Ayaan Hersi Alli, whose own genital mutilation gives force to her quiet, inclusive arguments against truly misogynistic practices. He was no Camille Paglia either. Though Camille also voices brash complaint against third-wave feminism, her formidable education—and her paradoxical right/left, lesbian-feminist articulations about art and culture—continue to seduce the stray ones wandering between the claustrophobic ideologies of the left and right . . .

"All of this said, sometimes Milo got it right.

“'In Europe, you can get arrested for being misogynist, arrested for being offensive. You know, these are actual offenses. These are things that police can come and take you away for in Europe. Americans have to understand how bad it is in Europe.'

"On that point, Milo is on the money. In England, there is no First Amendment. My former advisor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Marilynne Robison, published Mother Country in 1989, exploring the buildup of nuclear waste at a processing plant in England. British Greenpeace filed a libel suit against her, and her book remains banned in that country to this day . . ."

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Online Fiction Workshop, December-February 2017

High-Risk Fiction: A Writing Workshop
This class encourages fiction that, like all good writing, takes risks. This riskiness sets literature apart from the dishonesty of bad books, TV, and movies. Workshop is not confession, but in the privacy of their writing rooms students might begin to tell personal stories that perhaps they have only told about other people. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

She's Back to Sleeping

Ryan's story "She's Back to Sleeping" appears in Eclectica Magazine, America's oldest continuously publishing online journal, twenty years and counting. 

Click Here: She's Back to Sleeping

Monday, February 01, 2016

Ryan's Rumpus Essay on Guided By Voices

"Albums of Our Lives: Alien Lanes"

Thanks to the Guided by Voices fans who commented and sent notes. 

And thanks to Rumpus assistant music editor and musician 
Liz Wood, who helped me develop this piece.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


“Ryan is committed to the writing life… The evidence of his hard work is found in his precise, musical sentences.” --Frank Conroy

"Ryan's seriousness is his most striking trait. It might better be called gravity. It is no doubt largely attributable to a somewhat unconventional upbringing, toward which he has developed a thoughtful and respectful detachment. He has a marvelous eye for the textures of the most commonplace experience, the kind that familiarity makes almost subliminal."   

--Marilynne Robinson

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Ryan's Fiction Workshop Course Descriptions

High-Risk Fiction: A Writing Workshop
This class encourages fiction that, like all good writing, takes emotional risks. This riskiness sets literature apart from the dishonesty of bad books, TV, and movies. Workshop is not confession, but in the privacy of their writing rooms students might begin to tell personal stories that perhaps they have only told about other people. 

"Tell everything on yourself," Raymond Carver urged. Virginia Woolf would have agreed: "If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people." Yet we will never assume anything in a story actually happened to the writer. Rigorous storytelling, of course, evolves into fiction, blurring and even obliterating its source material.

We will read published stories as models. Amy Hempel writes of a woman who abandons a close friend dying of cancer, and confronts the aftermath of her choice. Thom Jones explores one soldier’s psychological territory of war, aggression, and epileptic torment, in which “illness” provokes dark illuminations of self and humanity. The good news is, the truth redeems, no matter the damage…