Historian Hugh Ryan

Historian Hugh Ryan. Photo courtesy Dusty St. Amand.

Historian Hugh Ryan. Photo courtesy Dusty St. Amand.

Hugh Ryan is a
writer, historian, and curator in New York City.

Ryan acted as Research Associate and scholar on The David Wojnarowicz Knowledge Basedigitally mapping The David Wojnarowicz Papers. Ryan also assisted in the curation of The Unflinching Eye: The Symbols of David Wojnarowicz, a 2018 exhibition coordinated by Nicholas Martin at New York University’s Mamdouha Bobst Gallery.

“I think [David’s] real strength,” Ryan says, “is that ability to name, to create—a “meme” honestly—an idea captured into a cultural unit. I think that’s what he did so well.”

Ryan’s essay Never Not a Poet: David Wojnarowicz is remembered as an AIDS activist and a visual artist. What about his poetry? was published by The Poetry Foundation in 2019. 

Ryan has also published When Brooklyn Was Queer, 2019, an LGBTQ history of Brooklyn and The Women’s House of Detention, 2022, a queer history of the Women’s House of Detention in Greenwich Village for which he was interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air.

Here Hugh Ryan shares his thoughts on David Wojnarowicz’s influence, his strength, and his inner poet.

These audio excerpts are from conversations with Doneley Meris, Director of HIV Arts Network held at Hal Bromm Gallery in 2018. They appear courtesy of HIV Arts Network and Hal Bromm Gallery.