StAnza 2017 will be our 20th annual festival which feels like quite an achievement. We hope you’ll come and help us celebrate. Our opening night show, Roll Over Atlantic, features John Agard, mixing the subversive tides of cabaret and calypso in an uproarious voyage in verse and song. Over the following days we have a stunning line-up of poets from around the world coming to St Andrews, including Tess Taylor and R.A. Villanueva from the USA, Michelle Cahill from Australia, Christodoulos Makris from Cyprus (via Dublin) and Jean Portante from Luxembourg. We’re also excited to welcome Alice Oswald, Sasha Dugdale, Kayo Chingonyi and Vahni Capildeo, who’re all making their first appearance at StAnza. Making a very welcome return are Joan Margarit from Spain, as well as Jackie Kay, Patience Agbabi, Robert Crawford, Kathleen Jamie, Elaine Feinstein, Jim Carruth and Sarah Howe.
For Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, our first theme will be The Heights of Poetry. We have designed a festival programme which celebrates mountains and high places, with readings by poets and climbers Mark Goodwin and David Wilson. We’ll be looking at how these places enrich poetic imagery, and asking how poetry can create and climb its own high places.
In the Middle Ages, the Pilgrim Way crossed Fife heading for St Andrews Cathedral, just a stone’s throw from our hub venue at the Byre Theatre; now each year people journey to St Andrews for poetry. Our second theme in 2017 is On the Road, and we’ll be looking at all manner of travel and journeys: human and animal, from the profound via the spiritual to the mundane, on foot or wing, real or imaginary. We shall also look at how poetry travels from pen to page, from page to stage, between poets and audiences, across languages and borders. We’ll be asking how poetry opens lines of communication, how it helps identify poetic truths in what’s being called a post-truth world.
Following on from the success of our first dedicated translated language focus last March, in 2017 we’ll be revisiting the historical ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France with a special French-language focus. As part of our Nouvelle Alliance, we’re collaborating with the Scottish Poetry Library, Literature Across Frontiers and the Literary Europe Live programme on a translation workshop and showcase. French-language poets performingat the festival will include Jacques Darras, Sabine Macher and Aurelia Lassaque.
Our spoken word/performance strand goes international this year, with Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir from Iceland and Sibusiso Conelius Simelane from South Africa. We’re also thrilled to present plenty of home grown talent, including a Loud Poets show curated specially for StAnza.
StAnza is also about taking part. Sarah Howe will lead this year’s Masterclass as part of our series of participation events for 2017, and there will be workshops from Helen Mort, Valerie Gillies, Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Patience Agbabi and others. Or you can perform your own work at our open mics and the annual StAnza Slam.
Start the day with poetry: let coffee, pastries and a provocative panel discussion at our breakfast events ease you in to the festival day (join the live webcasts if you can’t be there in person). And if you’re a night owl, late night poetry and music events will keep things lively until midnight. The festival hub at the Byre Theatre is the perfect place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, or to relax with a book and coffee. With its plethora of exhibitions, installations, films and talks about poets and poetry past and present – and the chance to enjoy the wonderful town of St Andrews rich with beaches and walks, ruins and shops – StAnza 2017 offers a multi-layered festival experience with something for everyone. We look forward to seeing you there!