Berlin poesiefestival online this week!

Tuesday 2 June 2020, 16:45

Poesiefestival Berlin

The poesiefestival Berlin is usually a summer highlight for many. Before the pandemic it was due to go ahead from 5 to 11 June, and they’ve jumped through hoops to turn their programme digital so it can be viewed online this month. This means their festival is available to a far wider audience than usual, and that should be cause for much rejoicing. You can see the whole programme at

Here at StAnza we’re getting very excited about the prospect. We’re hoping to tune in to a lot of events from Berlin, and of course everyone will have their own favourites, but we thought you might find it helpful if we flag up a few events which jumped out at us, so if you keep reading, you'll see we’ve suggested below some you might find of interest.

However, like all good poetry festivals, part of the joy of the poesiefestival is the social interaction, the post-event catch-up with friends and others attending. Usually in Berlin that’s in the courtyard of the Akademie der Künste in hot summer sunshine with a cold beer or white wine in hand. Alas, we can’t bring you the courtyard or Berlin summer evenings, and you’ll have to provide your own refreshments, but we thought it would be nice to arrange our own informal catch-up on Zoom after at least one of the poesiefestival events.

The event we’ve picked for this is a lecture by the Canadian poet, Anne Carson:

Sunday 7 June at 6.30pm BST: Berlin Poetry Lecture 2020 – Anne Carson

13 short and mini-talks, poetological and philosophical forays taking us into the worlds of Antiquity and Carson’s own childhood. The Lecture will be given in English, with a German translation by Anja Utler available.

Our informal post-event Zoom meeting will be scheduled to start at 7.30pm but might be late depending on when the lecture finishes, and we might update on the timing later. We will be very happy to welcome a dozen or so others to join us for a virtual post-event to share our thoughts about the lecture. Our intentions are to have a very informal and loosely structured session lasting no longer than an hour, and it’s fine if people don’t want to stay for the whole time. This is very much an experiment but we have our fingers crossed. If you would like join us in this, please email and we will send Zoom event invitations to the first 12 or so who email us.

NB As you will see from the poesiefestival programme, Berlin are planning their own talk about the lecture afterwards, if you’d rather watch that.

Here are some other poesiefestival events which might interest you:

Friday 5 June at 7.30pm BST: Weltklang

The polyvocal opening of the poesiefestival berlin. Poets from all parts of the world read, sing and perform in seven different native languages.

The poesiefestival always starts with the Weltklang, an evening of poetry from a range of poets from around the world, including this year several who will read in English, such as Ariana Reines for the USA and Koleka Putuma from South Africa.

Saturday 6 June at 6.30pm BST: Reversible, a Verschmuggel event

A trilingual reading is the end product of this year’s VERSschmuggel/reVERSible translation project featuring poetry from Canada and Québec. In virtual space, six German-speaking poets meet six Canadian poets writing in French and six writing in English.

Other names familiar to StAnza audiences elsewhere in the programme are Vahni Capildea, Will Harris, Maud Vanhauwaert and Kayo Chingonyi.

And although the festival doesn’t launch until next Friday, already they are featuring events each day at 5pm BST from Poets’ Homes around the city. Videos for those which have already taken place can be seen online, and you can see today’s, which includes Jan Wagner, online at

The poesiefestival Berlin are making their events available free online but they are asking for donations. You can find the link to make donations to them on the online page for each event.

I do hope you're able to take the chance to enjoy some of these events, and if you can't, or prefer not to watch events live online, many of them will be available as videos afterwards in their Media Library, as will talks during the festival.

Finally, in other news, watch out for a small StAnza commission we're inviting calls for, we'll be sharing information on that soon. And if you haven't yet completed our Looking forward to 2021 survey, giving us your thoughts on our plans for next year, there's still plenty time to do that yet. You can find the survey at:

Categories: News, Digital

The Three Day Residency that Lasted Three Months

Thursday 2 June 2016, 11:54

We were thrilled to welcome Clive Birnie to StAnza 2016 as StAnza's first ever HashtagPoet# in residence. None of us (neither we at StAnza, nor Clive) quite knew what exact shape the collaboration would take, and we were delighted by the resonance with which Clive's bizarre and beautiful creations were met. A guest blog post by Clive and a glimpse behind the curtains of this most modern of Dadaist techniques

The Three Day Residency that Lasted Three Months

It is three months this week since I travelled north to St Andrews for the StAnza International Poetry Festival. I had been asked by Eleanor Livingstone and Annie Rutherford both to adapt my HashtagPoetry# project into an installation to be projected inside the cafe and foyer of the Byre theatre (the heart and home of the festival) and also to be HashtagPoet# in residence. This latter element required me to create and post new HashtagPoems# during the festival. The result was 28 pieces posted over four days on Instagram and Twitter which were viewed around 17,000 times.

I have been asked by a number of people since how I approached the residency – due I think to the number of pieces I posted and also I think from raw curiosity. In asking me they are also enquiring of themselves, how would I approach it were I asked. My approach had three elements:

The first was to hunt out the Twitter streams of other poets participating in the festival and create pieces from screen shots of their tweets. In a sense I made poems from the words that other poets threw away. My favourite example is this Triptych made from the timeline of Stephen Fowler.

Triptych HashtagPoem#

© Clive Birnie

I concentrated on this ahead of the festival and stacked up screen shots from Twitter. Some  (although a minority) I redacted and painted into finished pieces ahead of the festival but the rest were completed either during the journey north or in St Andrews. I felt it was important that as much of the work as possible was completed within the environment of the festival. The downside of this was that it meant that sometimes I took myself off to work on poems and missed a few events that I now curse myself for missing. Such is the dilemma of the poet in residence: a subtle tension between the duty you feel as a member of the festival team and the urge to submerge yourself in all the great things happening around you. I also tried to stay true to the concept that underpinned the HashtagPoetry# project – the sense that we live in an age of cut-up and fragment and the montage we absorb through our senses is real life. A snip of this, a snatch of that. Half started conversations, things overheard, words and images glimpsed, barely grasped and then recycled as art.

The second approach was to respond to the themes events of the festival or to simply post something that was in synch with the real time of the festival e.g. to reflect the poetry breakfast events:

Poetry Breakfast HashtagPoem#

© Clive Birnie

The third might be called everything else. Things triggered by the journey north as with the “Dada-jam-sky” piece which I made on the plane but also included this piece which I made for my fellow poet in residence Harry Man.

Harry Man HashtagPoem#

© Clive Birnie

The fourth element... yes I know I said three but the fourth is something that spilled over into the weeks  that followed. You see, although I was only physically at StAnza for 72 hours the intellectual residency has carried on. This is the magic of StAnza. It wasn't just the dialogue with Harry, or with Scott Tyrell over a coffee or the many many fragments of (still) unfinished conversations. It was going for posh fish and chips with Jo Bell, Tania Hershman, Kevin Reid, Justin Stephenson and Ryan Van Winkle and talking about Aase Berg talking about translation. It was sitting on the bus heading back to the airport chatting with Nora Gomringer whose performance I had missed (dammit). It was the accidental poem passengers were writing on a customer feedback whiteboard in the security zone at the airport.  It was... overwhelming. I appreciate this is not a coherent explanation. Ask me again in a year or two but for now to an extent the residency has not yet ended. I have not yet finished untangling the threads, and exploring where they take me. Hence after a fews days off I started posting new pieces in March and then one a day through April (HashPoWriMo anyone?) and then spent most of May making this 26 piece response to Nora Gomringer's 'Ursprungsalphabet'.

Where next? Let's see where June takes me but the first thing I made when I arrived home back in March was this poem, 'Aurora', which was printed on Impossible Instant Film and I have just taken delivery of something called an Impossible Universal Lab which prints images from a smartphone onto polaroid-style instant-film.

Aurora HashtagPoem#

© Clive Birnie

You can signup to receive a free ebook HashtagPoetry# the StAnza edition which collects the work Clive posted during StAnza here (an automated email will be sent with the links for different ebook formats).


Categories: Digital

Podcast with Nora Gomringer

Friday 27 May 2016, 10:48

Less than three months on from StAnza 2016, and our poetry antennae are already twitching in anticipation of the delights that we’re putting together for you next year. It’s always nice to take a moment to relive what’s gone before though. So we were thrilled to stumble across this gem of a podcast in which the Scottish Poetry Library’s JL Williams interviews our 2016 headliner Nora Gomringer at StAnza. Whether you were mesmerised by Nora’s exuberant Saturday night performance or are kicking yourself for missing it – we recommend you treat your ears and have a listen.

Nora Gomringer with Philipp Scholz at StAnza 2016: photo by Terry Lee

Categories: News, Digital

Meet Stephen Watt, our 2014 Digital Slam Winner

Tuesday 19 August 2014, 14:45

We are handing this blog space over to the winner of this year's Digital Slam, Stephen Watt from Dumbarton. Check out his winning StAnza Digital Slam performance at

In this post, Stephen tells us a little about his background, his favourite poets and what he's doing performance wise in the lively poetry and spoken work scene.

GigsSocial realism, punk, story-telling, romance, and nostalgia; in a way, these are the things which drive me. If I could write something as masterly as (Carol Ann) Duffy’s “Queen Kong” or as spirited as (John) Cooper-Clarke’s “Beasley Street”, then I would plant a flag in it and begin my own niche.

I am from Dumbarton, on the outskirts of Glasgow. At the age of 19, I began writing poetry into a little notebook after listening to a bin lorry roll down my parent’s street. Within six months, I had been assaulted by drug addicts on two occasions – once with a needle held to my face, the other with a knife pressed into my neck. My counsellor advised that the writing was an excellent form of therapy, and so I continued to write a number of poems around this time. As a very shy and quiet child, it was an easy thing for me to spend time alone with my own thoughts, writing, dreaming, thinking..... Quite often using music to influence my mood, whilst listening to the wistful lyrics of Ian Dury, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mark E Smith and Seething Wells to list a few.

My grandfather had been a poet, writing a book of personal love poems to my grandmother in 1937. I never knew this until my mum alerted me to the fact this book existed – and was written when he was 19 – the same age that I had began writing. It was then I slowly began to come out of my shell. I would watch people around Dumbarton and Glasgow, exaggerating their characters to fill taboo subjects such as brothels, rent boys, domestic violence, etc. Small press magazines across the UK published a number of my poems about these subjects. Having gained confidence during my twenties from this relative success, and with an exceptional circle of friends supporting my writing, I ventured into the literary / spoken word scene in Glasgow in 2010 – nearly a full decade after I had first began scribbling down my thoughts. Since then, things really lifted off. I travelled to Peterborough in 2011 to beat 8,000 entrants by winning the Poetry Rivals Slam, earning a one book publishing contract with Bonacia Ltd, and releasing my debut collection “Spit” one year later. Further awards both on page and stage have been achieved over the last two years but perhaps the greatest satisfaction of all is the number of inspiring, exciting, and inventive poets emerging from Scotland, encompassing all ages and creeds, seemingly all at the same time. It is something I enjoy being part of enormously, and challenges the old caveat that poetry is a one person game.

I have just finished performing at a number of magazine launches and festivals across the country, but should anyone wish to follow me or keep an eye on what happens next, then they can find my ‘Spit’ poetry pages on Facebook and Twitter at:

Categories: News, Digital

2014 StAnza Digital Slam Results!

Tuesday 12 August 2014, 08:10

StAnza 2014 Slam, photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Thanks again to everyone who took part and/or voted in our 2014 Digital Slam, and to this year's partner, the Badilisha Poetry Exchange. It was a strong shortlist and we received a record number of votes. These have now been counted etc, and we can announce:

In third place: Ama Asantewa Diaka

In second place: Batsirai Chigama

And the WINNER of our 2014 Digital Slam is: Stephen Watt

Congratulations to Stephen! Look out for a special blog about him in a week or so. In the meantime, here’s the winning performance:

4. Stephen Watt (Dumbarton)

And if this has whetted your appetite for slam, don't forget the heats of this year's BBC Edinburgh Slam at the Fringe, in which StAnza's Eleanor Livingstone is again a judge, are currently taking place every evening until Thursday at 8.15pm in the Pink Bubble at Potterrow. The final is at 8.00pm for 8.30pm on Saturday in the Blue Bubble. It's all free but the Saturday final is free-but-ticketed (see link below). In last night's first heat, the finalist were Amanda Baker, StAnza 2014 Digital Slam finalist Chris Young and Miko Berry. Amanda Baker was the winner and she'll go forward to Saturday's final, which we understand will be live streamed for those who can't get there non-virtually.

Categories: News, Digital

2014 Digital Slam: Shortlist and Voting

Friday 1 August 2014, 20:17

Thanks to everyone who took part this year’s Digital Slam, and a special thanks to our partners at the Badilisha Poetry X-change!

The judges have had a tricky time whittling them down to a final ten. But whittle down they did and so we are delighted to present this year’s shortlist . . .

Scroll down through the entries, click ‘play’, and feast your eyes/ears.

And don’t forget, once you’ve done that, click on our voting widget to register your support for your favourite poet/spoken word artist.

The voting is open from now till 5pm (BST) Monday 11 August.

One vote per person. But if you’ve already voted, spread the word . . .

We’ll announce the winner soon after voting closes on the 11th.


1. Kyle Louw (Cape Town)


 2. Batsirai Chigama (Harare)


3. Ama Asantewa Diaka (Ghana)

4. Stephen Watt (Dumbarton)


5. Chris Young (Glasgow)


6. Alexander Velky (Pembrokeshire)


7. Stephanie Arsoska (Kirriemuir)

8. Tracey S. Rosenberg (Edinburgh)

9. Steve Smart (Dundee)

10. Josephine Pizer (Portobello)


UPDATE (11 Aug)
Voting has now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part!

Categories: News, Digital