Ryan Williams-Virden is an artist, educator and cultural worker from Northeast Minneapolis. He began writing after graduating from Hamline University in 2005. After graduation he joined The Poetic Assassins and Sai Werd Ink as BUGS (Better Under Gods Supervision). As a member of Poetic Assassins he toured the country performing, lecturing, and facilitating workshops around social justice issues at colleges, universities, high schools, and community organizations including: UCLA, Arizona State Univeristy, McKendree University, Slippery Rock University, Philadelphia University, Hamline University, University of Minnesota Duluth, Colorado College, Roosevelt University, University of Wisconsin River Falls, Iowa University, Gustavus Adolphus College, Augsburg College, St. Thomas University, Stetson University, Freedom School, Hip Hop Against Homophobia, Peace Jam, the Loft Literary Center, Voices Merging and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Poetic Assassins won the VERVE Grant in 2009 Also, in 2009 Poetic Assassins won the Best Spoken Word Production and were nominated for Best Collective at the Minnesota Spoken Word Awards. 2011 was a big year for Ryan as Poetic Assassins were featured at the legendary NuYorican Poets Cafe and won the Morrill Hall Rachel Tilsen Social Justice Grant from the University of Minnesota.
Ryan believes in the power of art and education. Since Poetic Assassins, Ryan completed his Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies culminating in his thesis “Keeping it Real: discourses on privilege in mainstream hip hop.” He has dedicated his academic energies and career to understanding the intersections of race, class, and gender in order to effect change and help foster a different reality for his community.
He bases all of his work, academic and artistic, in his personal experience. Growing up in the densely immigrant working class neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis Ryan has intimately experienced these systems of domination at work on a daily basis.
Ryan is currently a fellow at the Cultural Wellness Center