Ryan J-W Smith
Ryan J-W Smith, MA Law (Dist), is a critically acclaimed & world record holding poet, multi award-winning verse playwright, and successful business entrepreneur working professionally in the entertainment industry for over 25 years.
After reading Theatre Studies at Trinity College, Smith quickly evolved to become a multi award-winning verse playwright/director/producer/actor via his own theatre company, Rogue Shakespeare®. He went on to become a festival-winning filmmaker working in London, New York and Los Angeles.
His films have been shown, selected for, nominated or won their categories at over 25 international film festivals, including Cannes. Further artistic accolades include: two-time Hollywood Fringe International Award Winner (and four-time nominee); two-time Encore Producers’ Award Winner; Hollywood Fringe Comedy Award Nomination; Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award Nomination; Gandhi Foundation Award Recipient; three-time Arts Council England Award Recipient, and countless professional 4 and 5-star reviews.
Having now written over 1,900 Shakespearean sonnets, along with 7 verse plays, Smith has firmly established himself as a remarkably dedicated and critically-acclaimed poet. Smith is also a composer and the recording artist ‘IMBIBE‘. His first two albums were originally released with Universal Music.
Ryan is a long-time practitioner of the Buddhist arts of Mindfulness Meditation and Wing Chun Kung-Fu.
Smith graduated from law school with a Master’s in Law, awarded with distinction.
“Reading through Ryan J-W Smith’s bio is a depressing affair. Read through it when you’re enjoying a particularly productive phase and it will still, more than likely, make you feel like a pathetic underachiever. Thing is, Smith doesn’t just do all these things – he does them exceptionally well.”
To date, Smith has written over 1,900 Shakespearean sonnets - more sonnets that anyone else in known history (Shakespeare wrote 154). Smith's first 500 sonnets were published in 2012 in his unanimously praised book of spiritual self-development, 500 Shakespearean Sonnets.
500 Shakespearean Sonnets: The Diary of a Poetic Quest for Truth
"Candid, spiritual, philosophical and sometimes boldly political... a landmark in literature"
"this collection shows a tremendous talent and deserves to sit alongside your Poes, Plaths, and T.S. Elliots"
"Incredibly well written...a poetic achievement.
A great gift for any poetry lover in your life.
"impressively well-constructed... often startlingly expressive and insightful...
a fascinating and richly detailed picture of the author"
"Shakespeare's managed to write 154 - Smith has penned more than three times that number.
...splendidly contemporary...a tour de force"
"an honest process of learning, healing and repentance...
a collection of inspirational, honest and didactic poetry"
"Shakespeare's record of 154 in his lifetime as breathtaking. But what Ryan J-W Smith has achieved is simply awe-inspiring...
a very truthful portrayal of life...beautifully crafted... highly recommended"
"Masters of the verse - Smith pays homage to the Bard with the must-read collection of his own modern verse"
These sonnets are truly brilliant as they express deep inspired psychological truths in well very crafted, rhymed and beautiful sonnets. The meanings are deep - but for anyone looking for the path to Liberation they contain many profound insights and clues. The best book of contemporary poetry I have come across since the Four Quartets.
I started 500 Shakespearean Sonnets at Sonnet 1, and I am making my way, slowly and surely, one masterpiece, by one. Ryan J-W Smith noted in his introduction that if anyone were to do this it would be in a moment of madness. On the contrary, given the power of the prelude and what he shares around his purpose for writing, for me it was the only option. It would be, and is as expected, the best and most fulfilling way to share the author's amazing journey of self-healing and discovery. Without question, each piece stands alone with intense authority and is a joy to read. Indeed, in every case the poems actually warrant more than one review. It is a rare opportunity, however to be exposed so explicitly to a fellow human's fluctuating reflections, raw thoughts and observations. Ryan's expression and representation is so beautifully real, connected and open, it is wonderfully easy to relate to as a reader. I have giggled to myself about how randomly yet aptly matters have been explained. The vision he has and how this is translated into verse is potent, inspiring and for the reader reassuring and very liberating.
500 Shakespearean Sonnets is an account of an amazing passage. For me it has brought much peace and to the author I am most grateful. May this be true for anyone else who chooses to open their minds and hearts to the beauty of loving themselves and what it is to be human. Enjoy 🙂
The diary of 500 Shakespearean Sonnets is in one word brilliant! Even those who think they would not be interested or fear they may not understand will be massively surprised. It's written in a modern way which is easy to understand. I pretty much only studied Shakespeare at school so I am no expert but Smith beats Shakespeare for me!
This is a fascinating and beautiful read. Possibly because it was initially written for his own purposes and not intended for publication it is very personal, stark, honest, amusing at times and hauntingly lovely at others. His writing style is superb, a true wordsmith, it can be simple and raw or more complex and intricate depending on the subject and presumably his mood at the time of writing each sonnet. They are consistently well written and give a glimpse into the mind of the author and his musings for that day. Given the quality of the writing is arresting enough to capture your attention, it is also gratifying that the subject matter in itself is also well worth the read. His observations on matters of ego, self, humanity and the mind are at times stunning. I look forward to more from this talented and rare Man.
truly worth reading
Hi. Just bought the new book of Ryan JW Smith "500 Shakespearean Sonnets". And I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some NON FAKE poetry, which is actually quite rare now...
I find this book quite inspirational starting from it's introduction. The author is incredibly honest and sincere to his audience and not many of us would be able to talk about ourselves so open and critical. The same feeling you can get by reading the Sonnets. You can sense straightaway that these were not created for any commercial purposes - it is purely self expression "product". And this is the reason why this book is so good. Each day/each sonnet is like a piece of author's diary: different moods, thoughts and themes. From daily life episodes to the deep analysis of our existence...
By reading each sonnet you can discover something completely new or recognise yourself in it. And maybe start thinking a bit more... 😉
In sonnet 501, Smith sums up his spiritual journey so far:
In the last line Smith resolves that he will write another 500 sonnets to further his self-development.
Nearly nine years and over 1,250 sonnets later he is still learning, sharing, and testing himself, as he surpasses a total now of more than 1,750 sonnets.
Here are two more of Smith's sonnets for you to muse over, fused with some of his photography.
Sonnet 1,522 was written in London
Sonnet 1,544 was written in Los Angeles
Smith's poetry has been heard many a time and oft on radio over the years - and in particular Ryan has been a regular feature on BBC Radio.
Here is just one example of Smith performing his unique verse taken from the weekly BBC radio show 'Good News, Bard News', in which Ryan was challenged every week to write and perform a new sonnet live on air in a BBC studio.
'Revelations' sonnet for BBC Radio
Collectively, Smith’s films have received 25 international film festival wins, nominations or selections.
Highlights of Smith’s accolades as a filmmaker include:
Smith is humbled to have worked with and befriended many well-know actors, writers and political speakers over the years, many of who feature in his forthcoming documentaries, such as Ed Asner, Gore Vidal, Tony Benn, Daniel Sunjata and Noam Chomsky.
Smith filming with the late Tony Benn, at Mr. Benn’s home in London, England
Smith filming with the late Gore Vidal, at Mr. Vidal’s home in Hollywood, CA
Smith and 7-time Emmy Award winner, Ed Asner, promote one of Smith’s plays at a red carpet event in Hollywood, CA
To date, Smith has written 7 verse plays.
His accolades include: two-time Hollywood Fringe International Award Winner (and four-time nominee); two-time Encore Producers’ Award Winner; Hollywood Fringe Comedy Award Nomination; Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award Nomination; Gandhi Foundation Award Recipient; three-time Arts Council England Award Recipient, and countless professional 4 and 5-star reviews.
One of Smith’s most celebrated award-winning verse plays, Love Labours Won, is now available in paperback (free worldwide shipping).
“the best Shakespearean comedy not written by Shakespeare”
– Three Weeks
Smith is the recording artist, Imbibe. His first two solo albums were originally released with Universal Music in 2006, and subsequently re-released in 2013.
Smith also scores all the soundtracks for his films and will be releasing a new album soon. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:
Ryan is also a singer and, given his prowess with verse and acting, a natural spoken-word/rap artist – which he can perform either in English or French. Below is an example in English and to the right an example in French, both written, composed and performed by Smith.
“I am used to artists forcing their music on me – with Ryan, he was so humble, that eventually I had to ask him to play his album to me… as soon as he played a couple of tracks, I knew I wanted him to sign a distribution deal with Universal. He has already achieved so much, but it’s obvious to anyone that meets him that Ryan is destined for greatness.”
A former teenage tennis champion, Smith’s more physical passions today primarily extend to riding sports motorcycles, flying planes & helicopters, practicing wing chun kung-fu & archery.