Last updated: February 2013
We have been shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Gavin Wallace, head of literature at Creative Scotland, and before that for many years at the Scottish Arts Council. He was hugely supportive in the early years of StAnza and played a considerable part in establishing the festival as a major event in Scotland's cultural calendar. Gavin's committed support for StAnza over many years was generously given and greatly valued by us all. The untimely death of such a cultured friend to poetry is a great loss for Scottish literature. He will be sorely missed here as elsewhere, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and to his many friends and colleagues.
StAnza 2013 venue & ticketing update – the good news!
Following last week’s shock announcement about the Byre close, StAnza’s Festival Director, Eleanor Livingstone, provides this update about StAnza 2013:
“The StAnza dust, about which James Harding was recently waxing so lyrical, hasn’t been allowed to settle, following the grim news about the temporary closure of the Byre theatre and the implications of this for StAnza 2013, and the good news is that alternative arrangements for ticketing and venues are almost in place.
“Early next week StAnza tickets will be on sale once again – and as proof that we don’t do anything by halves, up until the festival week there will be not only one but two outlets for tickets. Our friends at the Dundee Rep will sell StAnza tickets through their regular online box office, and in town the Visit Scotland team at 70 Market Street, St Andrews, KY16 9NU, tel. 01334 474609 will be able to sell them in person, and also by phone. In Dundee and in St Andrews both teams are working flat out and hope to be up and ready by late Monday or sometime on Tuesday next week (4th or 5th February). Full details will be available from our online Booking Page and those of you who haven’t bought tickets yet will still have a chance to snap some up before the end of the Early Bird discount period on 10th February.
“A few of the smaller events are already sold out, but there’s still a handful of tickets left for the ever popular Round Table readings and workshops, so if you were thinking you’d missed the boat on them, get in there fast next week!
“The Town Hall in Queens Gardens, which has always been our secondary hub in all its Victorian Gothic grandeur, has risen to the challenge and will become this year’s primary hub. The Supper Room there, a regular StAnza venue, will be so transformed into a lively, bustling festival hub from Thursday 7th through to Sunday 10th March, that the Hall Keepers who are working flat out with us on this will hardly recognise it. Lunches, dinners and a bar will be available – including for late night jazz and open mic events – and exhibitions, projections and installations will also relocate there. The Festival Desk and Bookstall too will be found in the Supper Room, as well as this year’s StAnza Box Office. So the Supper Room will be the place to meet friends and make friends, to chill out, rev up and people-watch as poets from around the world arrive to check in at the festival.
“Upstairs, the main hall will become StAnza’s main stage. It’s not unacquainted with poetry. Though we haven’t used it recently – except for the giant knitted poem in 2011 – in StAnzas past many great poets have taken the mic there, including Roger McGough, Sharon Olds, Mark Strand and Alistair Reid. I sneaked in for a preview yesterday when the relocated Fife Jazz Festival were sound-checking. With the sun obligingly streaming through the windows and the raked seating all set up, it looked impressive indeed – and sounded wonderful! This weekend’s Jazz Festival is highly recommended, at least to anyone who doesn’t have a festival to re-arrange.
“For one night only, Wednesday 6th March for our opening events – the Festival Launch and RiverRun, a voyage through Dublin in music, visuals and poetry - thanks to support from the University of St Andrews, StAnza will relocate to the state-of-the-art new theatre in the MBSB (Medical and Biological Sciences Building) on the North Haugh. Don’t be put off by the name, it’s a stunning venue. You’ll find it on the corner, facing The Gateway across the roundabout. St Andrews locals will know not only where it is but that parking is no problem there; and we’ll have detailed directions for our audience coming from out of town, plus a guide to lead people from the Town Hall to the North Haugh where pop-ups will proclaim that StAnza has arrived.
“Just as the show is going on this weekend for the Jazz Festival, likewise the core programme for StAnza 2013 goes ahead as planned. Only one out of the 103 events planned has fallen victim to the Byre closure – the Ian Hamilton Finlay exhibition of silkscreen prints needed a special kind of gallery setting which couldn’t be found elsewhere on short notice. Of course I’m very disappointed about this but plan to bring the exhibition another year once we’re safely back in the Byre.
“Otherwise, we are still on course with everything else on the programme, albeit with many events in alternative venues. My huge thanks to all the local organisations and bodies who have this week so generously offered to re-home some of our events, even if that involves some re-organisation of their own events, and to their obliging staff who have cheerfully responded to my copious lists of queries and questions. We’ll update our online listings with details of the new venues as and when they are firmed up over the next week or so, and once everything is in place, posters giving the full details of alternative venues will appear all around St Andrews, further afield at the SPL and other places, and be downloadable from our website. However, if in doubt, just enquire during StAnza of the good folk at the Festival Desk in the Supper Room.
“We don’t have time to reprint this year’s brochure with the new venue listings, but for those who can’t get them online, we’ll have a handout available at the Festival Desk which you can consult in tandem with the brochure.
“My thanks also to my StAnza colleagues, our staff, trustees and committee members, who have responded magnificently to this challenge and provided invaluable support in a million ways. There’s such energy in St Andrews at present, made up of goodwill and constructive action directed at the Byre and at StAnza, so strong you could almost bottle it. Indeed, it’s not just in St Andrews but reaching across Scotland, so I have to be confident that this will prevail and the Byre won’t be dark for long. And meantime, when the whole StAnza extended family – poets, other performers, audience, volunteers – arrives in town next month to join that mix, the effect is going to be tremendous. I look forward to seeing you there.”
StAnza 2013 to go ahead despite news re hub venue, the Byre Theatre
StAnza 2013 will go ahead as planned, the organisers have announced, despite the sudden news that the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, StAnza’s hub venue, are closing their doors next week.
Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone says:
"The news about the Byre has come as a complete shock and we are extremely sorry to hear it. The venue has been such a vital part of StAnza for many years, and the wonderful staff at the Byre have all our sympathies. We are urgently seeking clarification as to how this will affect StAnza 2013, which will take place from 6 – 10 March. StAnza has always used a range of venues in St Andrews, such as the Town Hall, the University’s Parliament Hall and local galleries, museums and schools. With the support of local partners we shall where necessary move events due to take place in the Byre to alternative venues and we hope to finalise and announce any new arrangements within a matter of days. The intention is to minimise disruption, to continue with our planned core programme and keep everyone informed."
Those who have already booked their tickets through the Byre’s box office will have those accepted as normal. We are arranging an alternative booking system for those yet to buy their tickets. Information on this will shortly appear on the booking page of our website, and information on venue changes will be given on the online programme listings as soon as possible. We will also post information on our online blog at www.stanzapoetry.wordpress.com.
The closure of the Byre Theatre was announced on 26th January in a press release from their Board:
"The Board of the Byre Theatre Ltd deeply regrets the closure of the theatre… We are greatly distressed … and profoundly sorry for all those affected by so sudden a termination."
Angela Wrapson, Chair of the Board of StAnza said:
"The Byre is one of the loveliest small theatres in Scotland and we hope that it will reopen its doors very soon. Meanwhile, the StAnza festival programme for 2013 is the most exciting yet, and our imaginative and flexible staff are quickly looking into possible alternative venues, in case these should be required. Fortunately the good relationships StAnza enjoys with institutions in St. Andrews means that we have already had numerous offers of support."
Two Special StAnza Events for October
In the second of our events planned for Sunday 7th October, StAnza celebrates 15 years of festivals. The first StAnza Poetry Festival launched on October 8th 1998. To celebrate the festival's continued success, Scottish and American poets take part in a transatlantic reading when StAnza presents 'Calling New York', a unique transatlantic reading which brings together two poets in two continents: Douglas Dunn reading in St Andrews and Jay Parini reading in New York. In honour of StAnza's predecessors and the long tradition of poetry events in St Andrews, the two poets featured have been chosen for the inspiration they gave to StAnza's founders. Douglas Dunn was the director of festival which immediately preceded StAnza in the 1990s, while Jay Parini started the first ever poetry festival in St Andrews in the 1960s.
The event is part of the Fife programme for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and is held in association with the Roger Smith Hotel, New York. The reading will take place on in the Byre Studio Theatre at 7pm (BST), and at 2pm (EDT) in New York at the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan, before live audiences at each venue. The poets will be linked via Skype. Both poets have strong connections with St Andrews. Douglas Dunn is one of Scotland's most prominent poets and founded the Creative Writing programme at the University of St Andrews. Jay Parini, a poet, writer and academic is best known for his novel about Leo Tolstoy, The Last Station.
Tickets for the reading in St Andrews cost £3 (£2 concession) are available on the door on the night, or in advance from the Byre Box Office, 01334 475000 or online here.
Earlier on Sunday 7 October, weather permitting, StAnza are holding a special autumn poetry walk. Take in some of the sights and sounds of St Andrews, listen to poems about the season and the natural world. Scheduled to start at 3pm from the Byre Theatre garden, this is a free event – just turn up. For more details email email@example.com.
Celebrate with StAnza in Edinburgh
StAnza is taking part in another of Edinburgh’s festivals this month.
The StAnza Showcase at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace features three outstanding poets associated with StAnza. John Siddique appeared at this year’s StAnza and is making a welcome return to Scotland. Anna Crowe lives in St Andrews, Fife, is a co-founder of StAnza and served as the festival’s Artistic Director for 7 years. She is known both as a poet and a translator of poetry. Dawn Wood works as a lecturer at University of Abertay, Dundee. Her collection Quarry (Templar Poetry, 2008) was shortlisted for Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. She has also published Connoisseur (2009) and Hermes with Gift (University of Abertay Press, 2011).The event takes place at 4.00pm on Monday 20th August at St John’s Church at the west end of Princes Street. Tickets are available from the festival’s box office or online here.
StAnza hits the Edinburgh Fringe
Eleanor Livingstone, Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, is to be one of the judges at the renowned BBC Slam during this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Twenty four top poets will be competing, including Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead in her first ever slam and two poets fresh from StAnza’s inaugural Digital Slam: Elspeth Murray and J L Williams.
The Slam takes place at the BBC venue, Potterrow, from Monday 20th to Thursday 23rd August at 5pm, when four poets compete each night. The winners go forward to the grand finale at 7.30pm on Friday 24th. The event is free and ticketed: details can be found here
Join StAnza's Digital Slam!
Yes, that’s right, we are running an online slam competition, so that poets from everywhere can join in and audiences can sample the performances and vote for the winner. If you missed out on StAnza’s famous live slam and open mic events at the festival in March, now’s your chance to get involved. We are running this event using all our social media platforms and centred on the StAnza Blog.
We will be open for entries from 29th June to 6th July.
To enter, all you have to do is supply an audio/video file of yourself performing your poem. Upload it onto YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, AudioBoo or other online platform. Then send the URL to our designated email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your clip should be of a single poem and should last no more than 3 minutes.
Our judges will then make a shortlist and these entries will be posted on the StAnza Blog for the online audience to view and then cast their votes, using our dedicated voting link. Voting will be from midday 13th to midday 16th July. The winner will be announced on 16th July after the polls close. The winning performance will be showcased on our platforms on 20th July and we will include a second clip by the winner.You can follow this event on Twitter via @StAnzaPoetry and/or #DigitalSlam
Creative Place Winner
In a great start to the Year of Creative Scotland 2012, the town of St Andrews has won a Creative Place Award as part of a new award scheme overseen by Creative Scotland, and received £150,000, the largest award, in the category for places with fewer than 100,000 residents.
The awards were announced at a special ceremony in Edinburgh on 24th January which StAnza’s Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone attended. StAnza 2012 is one of the events taking place in St Andrews during its Year of Celebration. The award will allow the town to promote its rich cultural programme throughout the UK and to international visitors, and will also support a new community musical theatre production for the Year of Celebration.
StAnza contributed to the winning application which was submitted on behalf of various cultural and marketing organisations active in town, with the Byre Theatre as lead organisation. More information about the award is available on the Creative Scotland website. (www.creativescotland.com/news/2012-creative-place-award-winners-announced-24012012)
StAnza Joins World Poetry Movement
at Medellin, July 2011
StAnza has been pleased to accept an invitation to become a member of the World Poetry Movement.
STATEMENT OF WORLD POETRY MOVEMENT
At the 21st Medellin Poetry Festival, directors of 37 Poetry Festivals worldwide have conducted a 5-day meeting on the status of poetry and poetry festivals across the world, analyzing and discussing human concerns and issues regarding difficulties and achievements as part of local organizations promoting poetry in each of our cities and countries.
The first sessions discussed the relationship between poetry and peace and reconstruction of the human spirit, nature reconciliation and recovery, unity and cultural diversity of the peoples, material misery and poetic justice, and actions to take towards the globalization of poetry.
Participants decided to establish the World Poetry Movement, whose main purpose would be to increase cooperation between poetry festivals, thus strengthening our collective voice.
The World Poetry Movement recognizes that:
Poetry provides meaningful insights into the human condition.
Contrary to the idea that languages divide the world, it is precisely the diversity of languages that enriches poetry festivals.
The World Poetry Movement will strengthen each festival in their local and global approach to their challenges and concerns.
The exceptional connection with the public evidenced in the Medellin Poetry Festival highlights the value of poetry reaching people.
Main objectives of the World Poetry Movement are:
That all poets, poetry initiatives and organizations are invited to join the World Poetry Movement.
To promote the growth of poetry festivals across the world in all their diversity.
To enhance communication between poetry festivals and poetry organizations.
To promote the development of poetry schools and poetry initiatives.
To explore audience development initiatives to broaden publics and access to poetry.
To address issues such as publishing, translation and the general concerns of poets worldwide.
This movement begins a significant process that goes beyond individual concerns and creates exciting possibilities for poets and poetry events worldwide - we stand with humility and care for the birth of this new project.
Medellin, July 13/2011
Tomás Arias, representative of Barcelona Poesía (Spain)
Kwame Dawes, representative of Calabash International Literary Festival
Sixto Cabrera, representative of Encuentro Latinoamericano de Poesía en Veracruz (Mexico)
José María Memet, director del Encuentro Internacional de Poetas ChilePoesía
Otoniel Guevara, poet and director del Encuentro Internacional de Poetas El Turno del Ofendido (El Salvador)
Fernando Rendón, Gabriel Jaime Franco, Jairo Guzmán and y Gloria Chvatal, representatives of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín (Colombia)
Alex Pausides, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía de La Habana (Cuba)
Fernando Valverde, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Granada (Spain)
Gaston Bellemare, director of Festival International de la Poèsie de Trois-Rivières (Canada)
Amir Or, poet and director of the International Poetry Festival Sha'ar (Israel)
Iryna Vikyrchak, poet and executive director of The International Poetry Festival
Meridian Czernowitz (Ukraine)
Lello Voce, poet and representative of International Poetry Festival RomaPoesía and Absolute Poetry (Italy)
Rira Abbasi, director of International Festival of Peace Poetry (Irán)
Graciela Araoz, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
José Mármol, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía de República Dominicana
Giovanni Gómez, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía Luna de Locos (Pereira, Colombia)
Aaron Rueda, representative of the Festival Iberoamericano de Poesía “Salvador Díaz Mirón” (Mexico)
Rodolfo Dada, poet and representative of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Costa Rica
Rigoberto Paredes, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Honduras
Lucy Cristina Chau, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía Ars Amandi (Panama)
Marvin García, poet and director del Festival Internacional de Poesía de Quetzaltenango (Guatemala)
Vilma Reyes and Vicente Rodríguez Nietzche, poet, and representative del Festival Internacional de Poesía de Puerto Rico
Rafael del Castillo and Fernando Linero, poets and representatives of Festival Internacional de Poesía de Bogotá (Colombia)
Gabriel Impaglioni, poet and director of Festival Internacional de Poesía Palabra en el Mundo (Argentina/Italy)
Ataol Behramoglu, poet and organizer of International Poetry Festival of Smirna (Turkey)
Rati Saxena, poet and director of Krytia International Poetry Festival (India)
Thomas Wolfhart, director of Literaturwerkstatt Berlin (Germany)
Endre Ruset, poet and director of Norsk Litteraturfestival (Norway)
Regina Dyck, director of Poetry on the Road (Bremen, Germany)
Peter Rorvik, director of Poetry Africa (South Africa)
Bas Kwakman, director of Poetry International Rotterdam (The Netherlands)
Céline Hémon, director of International Communications of Les Printemps des Poètes (France)
Zabier Hernández, director of the Recital Internacional de Poesía desde el Sur, (Pasto, Colombia)
Jack Hirschmann, poet and director of San Francisco International Poetry Festival (United States)
Nikola Madzirov, poet and representative of Struga Poetry Evenings (Macedonia)
Ban’ya Natsuishi, director of Tokyo Poetry Festival (Japan)
Ide Hintze, director of the Vienna Poetry School
August Kleinzahler to read in St Andrews
August Kleinzahler, the eminent US poet, is to give a reading at St Andrews next month as part of a short tour of Scotland.
The reading will take place at 7pm on 13 May at All Saint’s Hall, St Andrews. Kleinzahler will also be in conversation with poet Alexander Hutchison, talking about his life and work. The event is being held in association with the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts and Faber & Faber.
Kleinzahler, who appeared to great acclaim at StAnza in 2008, is renowned for the lively, performative style of his readings and for his strong opinions. According to the New York Times: ‘His work is a modernist swirl of sex, surrealism, urban life and melancholy, with a jazzy backbeat. His personality combines Allen Ginsberg’s goofball charm and Norman Mailer’s inveterate pugnacity.’
His most recent volume of poetry is Sleeping It Off In Rapid City: Poems New & Selected (Faber, 2008), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Eleanor Livingstone, Festival Director of StAnza, said: ‘August Kleinzahler enthralled audiences on his last visit to Scotland with his wit, verbal energy and lyrical intelligence. I’m delighted he’s returning to St Andrews.’
Win for StAnza in Cyber Slam
StAnza scored a victory over Melbourne’s Overload festival’s slammers at last Saturday’s Cyber Slam (11 September). Both teams produced brilliant performances, including our own Kevin Cadwallander’s impersonation of a Dalek. The StAnza team comprised Milton Balgoni as MC, Robin Cairns, Claudia Daventry, Ali ‘Harlequinade’ Maloney and Kevin Cadwallender. Melbourne’s Overload Poetry Festival was led by Santo Cazzati as MC, with Ezra Biz, Benjamin IQ Sanders, and two poets, Graham and Andrea, who had come through during earlier heats in Melbourne. The full set of results are here .
Eleanor Livingstone, StAnza’s Festival Director was delighted with the outcome: ‘The real triumph of course was being able to link up so successfully with Australia – our thanks to James Waller of Overload for approaching us with the idea – and create such an enjoyable event that brought together poets and audiences across the globe.’
StAnza launches new composition competition
StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the University of St Andrews are delighted to announce the launch of a composition competition celebrating the work of acclaimed Scottish Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean.
The competition is open to all composers under the age of 30 and resident in the UK. Entrants are required to set to music (in English translation) one of three selected poems by Sorley MacLean for the St Andrews Chamber Orchestra, three SCO soloists and the soprano Lesley Jane Rogers. The poems are ‘An Autumn Day’, ‘Dogs and Wolves’ and ‘Under Sail’.
Up to three winning pieces will be performed as part of a concert at StAnza 2011 on Sunday 20 March at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews. The competition has been organised in association with the Sorley MacLean Trust and Carcanet Press.
The closing date for competition entries is St Andrews Day, Tuesday 30 November 2010. Entry forms, full submission details, poem texts and competition rules can be found at www.sco.org.uk/connectStAnza’s Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone said: ‘This collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra is an exciting development for StAnza, giving us the opportunity to introduce the works of the great Scottish Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean to new readers. The concert will be a real highlight of our celebrations for his 100th anniversary.’
Death of Edwin Morgan, Scotland's National Poet
All at StAnza are greatly saddened to hear of the death of Edwin Morgan, at the age of 90, on 19th August. He was one of Scotland's and the world's greatest poets, and a true internationalist in every sense of the word. In 1999 he was made the first Glasgow Poet Laureate and in 2004 was appointed as the first Scottish national poet: The Scots Makar.
It was Edwin Morgan who topped the bill at the very first StAnza back in 1998. He returned to the festival both in person and through other events and exhibitions over the years and StAnza owes a great deal of its success to his presence.
StAnza joins with everyone in the poetry and arts communities - and well beyond - in our farewells to Edwin Morgan, our wonder at all he has achieved and the inspiration he has been to everyone.
Poetry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Tickets are selling fast, but there’s plenty of poetry to enjoy at the EIBF from 14 August. New director Nick Barley asked poet Don Paterson and the Scottish Poetry Library to advise on selections for the Poetry Programme and the line-up is stunning.
Four of the six poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize are appearing: Seamus Heaney’s event is sold out, but you can still get tickets for Jo Shapcott, Robin Robertson and Sinead Morrissey.
Also on the roster are Simon Armitage, Paul Muldoon, John Glenday, John Stammers, Ron Butlin, StAnza’s own former Director, Brian Johnstone, Kathleen Jamie (in conversation with Jonathan Bate), Douglas Dunn and Mandy Haggith (on Norman McCaig). Click here for full programme and booking details.For the first time this year, the festival is showcasing the new trend for live literature that’s been hitting the headlines: the innovative – and free – Unbound evenings at the Highland Park Spiegeltent, will feature a poetry night on Thursday 19 August. Expect the unexpected…
StAnza takes on Australia in its first ever Poetry Cyber Slam
Following the success of last year’s digital mini-festival, StAnza has got together with Overload, Melbourne’s Poetry Festival, to host a brand-new event: a unique Cyber Slam that pits poets from Scotland against their Antipodean counterparts, live and online.
The Cyber Slam is happening on 11 September between midday and 1pm (BST) at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, and simultaneously at the Overload Poetry Festival, Melbourne. Both teams will be cheered on by audiences at their respective venues and the performances will be webcast live, so viewers from round the world can follow the poets online as they battle it out. The StAnza team includes festival favourites Robin Cairns and Kevin Cadwallander, with Milton Balgonie, Claudia Daventry and Julian Moorman.
The Slam will be immediately followed by Risk-a-Verse, an Open Mic for Fife poets which will be performed live at the Byre Theatre from 2pm-4pm (BST) and webcast to audiences online. This is a chance for the Kingdom’s talented poets to perform in front of a local and a world-wide audience. For details of how to sign up for Risk-a-Verse, contact email@example.com.
Both the Slam and Risk-a-Verse are part of ‘2010: Fife’s Year of Culture’, a major initiative that showcases the talents Fife has to offer through a wide-ranging programme of cultural events
StAnza to field poets during the Open Golf Championship at St Andrews
StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is bringing back some of the outstanding talent from the festival earlier this year to entertain the crowds at the world famous Golf Open Championship, taking place at St Andrews, 11-18 July.
More than a dozen poets will be taking the stage at Fife Council’s Welcome to Fife Pavilion, which will be showcasing the highlights of ‘2010:Fife’s Year of Culture’.
Topping the bill are Kei Miller, StAnza’s recent Poet-in-Residence, Kevin Cadwallander, Angela McSeveney and Eddie Gibbons, all of whom appeared at StAnza back in March. Other StAnza poets taking the stage, from 13-18 July, include Jim Carruth, Anna Crowe and Milton Balgonie. For full details of the line-up and when the poets are appearing, see below or check the StAnza Facebook page. There will also be updates on Twitter.
The Welcome to Fife Pavilion will be situated near the Hospitality Area in the Official Tented Village near the Old Course, St Andrews. As well as StAnza’s poetry, there will be music, dancing, displays and cookery demonstrations, offering a sample of the cultural riches Fife has to offer.
Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone says: "StAnza 2010 was such a success, it’s great to have an opportunity to invite back to St Andrews some of this year’s most popular poets. I’m sure they’ll engage visitors to the Welcome to Fife Pavilion with the same mixture of wit, charm and lyricism which delighted audiences in March. They may even attempt a hole in one with a poem about golf."
The full line-up of poets is as follows:
Festival Director Steps Down
Changes will be taking place at StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival as longstanding Festival Director, Brian Johnstone, officially stepped down on 31 May after a decade in the role. He has now handed over the reins to the current Artistic Director, Eleanor Livingstone.
Brian is a co-founder of StAnza, which started life in 1998 as a fairly small gathering of poets and poetry lovers in the Fife town of St Andrews. During his time as Festival Director, he has overseen StAnza’s astonishing growth both in audience numbers and in reputation. He leaves the festival a highlight of the busy arts calendar in Scotland and the UK which regularly draws audiences from the rest of Europe and America. Last year, he saw StAnza shortlisted for a Scottish Thistle Award, in recognition of its impact during Homecoming Year.
In previous years he has brought a range of major American poets to the festival, commissioned art works from leading Scottish artists, featured both past and present Poet Laureates, and has brought to StAnza poets from over 40 countries. The last five years have seen sustained increases in attendances – 11,000 at this year’s festival – and the festival has become a byword for excellence and hospitality.
Brian Johnstone says: ‘While I’m looking forward to having more time to pursue my own creative interests, I will also enjoy seeing how StAnza develops and grows as I’m sure it will under its new Festival Director. I’m delighted to be passing it on to such a dedicated successor – it’s going to be great – just you wait and see!’
StAnza’s new Festival Director, Eleanor Livingstone has been involved with StAnza for seven years and has been Artistic Director since 2005. Among her recent achievements has been the creation of Distant Voices: StAnza’s Digital Poetry Festival, which webcast live events to over 60 countries. She is already planning the 2011 festival and will take over the other responsibilities from June.
Of her new role, Eleanor says: ‘Over the last five years, working with Brian and our wonderful team has been a rewarding experience and I’m looking forward with enthusiasm to the challenge of leading StAnza into the future. With so much great poetry available, so many exciting possibilities for future festivals and new types of poetry encounters and engagements, I’m sure StAnza can continue to expand and develop with our focus firmly on creativity and excellence.’‘It’s been a privilege to develop such a major event and I am happy to hand over a festival of which we can all be justly proud,’ added Brian Johnstone. ‘Without the immense commitment and support of all our members and volunteers, StAnza could simply not have functioned. And without their sharing my vision for StAnza I would simply not have been able to achieve what I – in truth we – have achieved in making StAnza all that it is today.’
Don Paterson wins Queen's Medal for Poetry
StAnza's directors were delighted to hear the news that Don Paterson, who is among the poets leading the bill at StAnza 2010 has been awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry for his latest collection Rain. The announcement was made on New Year's Eve.
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who chaired the judging panel, praised Paterson’s writing as: "acutely attuned to the most intimate of human exchanges, rendered with a formal grace, a moving candour and a beguiling cadence. These poems are a witness and a guide to our most precious moments, achieving in two decades of work what few manage so well in a lifetime."
StAnza's Artistic Director, Eleanor Livingstone said: "This is a most deserved honour for a poet hugely acclaimed both at home and abroad whose work significantly enhances the reputation of Scottish poetry. All congratulations to him."
Rain was also awarded the 2009 Forward Prize for Poetry. Paterson has previously won many awards, including the T. S. Eliot and Whitbread Prizes. He received an OBE in 2008.
StAnza Shortlisted for Prestigious Award
Peter Lederer, Chairman of Visit Scotland
StAnza’s organizers are delighted to announce that the festival has been shortlisted for a VisitScotland Scottish Thistle Award. StAnza 2009 is a finalist in the Events & Festivals (regional) section.
The Awards were founded in 1991 by VisitScotland, and celebrate excellence, innovation and creative thinking in the tourism industry.
StAnza Festival Director Brian Johnstone said: "I am absolutely delighted that StAnza's contribution has been recognised in the Scottish Thistle Awards in what is my final twelve months as Festival Director. It bears out the ambition and aspirations we had for the festival right from the start and is a wonderful tribute to everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - who has worked to make StAnza what it is today."
The winners will be announced on 23 October during a ceremony at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
Robert Burns Goes to Holyrood
Festivalgoers will recall the spectacular ‘Burning Burns’ event at our festival’s launch back in March when artist David Mach set fire to one of a pair of matchhead sculptures of the head of Robert Burns, with First Minister Alex Salmond in the audience. Now there is a twist to the tale of this memorable event.
The sculptures, which were especially commissioned for StAnza as part of this year’s Homecoming celebrations, are going on long-term loan to Parliament and will be on display there from 18th August, to coincide with the start of Edinburgh’s Festival of Politics. The heads, one blackened by burning and the other with the red of its matchheads still intact, make a dramatic contrast and will be displayed together in a specially made glass case at the public entrance to the Holyrood Debating Chamber. See photos of the artworks before they made the journey to Holyrood (St Andrews Citizen, 14th September 09).
Eleanor Livingstone, StAnza’s Artistic Director said: ‘David Mach’s matchheads of Burns became the iconic image of this year’s festival and StAnza’s involvement with Homecoming Scotland . I’m delighted that they will have continuing exposure and impact, especially within the context of Holyrood, a building and institution in which, as in the matchheads, past, present and future meet.’
Iain Smith, MSP for North East Fife, said: "In this year of Homecoming and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, I'm delighted that these splendid matchhead sculptures are being lent to the Scottish Parliament. I'm sure their display will be well-received by public visitors to Holyrood and by the MSPs."
100 Poets Anthology
On 18 March 2007 as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations at StAnza 2007, 103 poets gathered to read one poem each at what turned out to be a very special event. As a finalé, Alastair Reid gave what he said was the last ever reading of his much anthologised poem, Scotland, then set fire to it. There was much enthusiasm from those taking part for some kind of record of the event. Skein of Geese, a limited edition anthology of the poems read that day - except, of course, Scotland - is now available. The anthology was edited by StAnza's Artistic Director, Eleanor Livingstone, and designed by StAnza Committee Member, Jennifer Elliott. The image of geese on the back cover is from a lithograph, Skein iv by Alan Stones www.alanstones.co.uk. Copies will be for sale at StAnza 2008 for £5, and are also available from the Wordpower Book Shop in Edinburgh. From April 2008, copies can also be purchased by post from Eleanor Livingstone (email firstname.lastname@example.org after 1 April for details) as long as stocks last.
Jen Hadfield Wins the T S Eliot
Warm congratulations from StAnza to Jen Hadfield. On 12th January 2009, she became the youngest poet to win the T S Eliot Prize - the most prestigious in the UK - for her second collection Nigh No Place (Bloodaxe). Jen, 30, who lives on Burra, Shetland, gave a wonderful reading at StAnza 2007 and returned in 2008 to show a series of artworks, also called Nigh No Place: Mexican folk inspired retablos (created inside old tobacco tins) which evoked the Shetland landscape and complemented the themes of her book. She was also one of the poets who took part in StAnza's exchange with Stavanger, European City of Culture 2008, where she gave two excellent readings and an inspirational workshop.
"We've taken note of Jen's talents for some time," says Artistic Director Eleanor Livingstone, "and are delighted that she's now achieved such stunning success." Winning the T S Eliot Prize puts Jen in the company of of some very prominent poets. Recent winners have been Sean O'Brien, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, George Szirtes and Don Paterson. All at StAnza say: well done, Jen! We look forward to your return to the festival.
Adrian Mitchell : 1932-2008
StAnza was very saddened to hear of the sudden death of Adrian Mitchell, who was the StAnza 2008 Poet in Residence and gave a series of entertaining, passionate and unforgettable performances at the festival.
One of the UK's most beloved poets, Adrian had been suffering from pneumonia for the past two months and died in his sleep from a possible heart attack. He had just completed Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008 which will now, sadly, be his final collection.
Douglas Dunn Retires
StAnza patron and distinguished poet and teacher Professor Douglas Dunn retired recently from the University of St Andrews School of English, where he has taught since being made a professor in 1991. Douglas Dunn served as head of school and director of the Scottish Studies Institute, and helped found the postgraduate creative writing course – the first such course in Scotland – where he assembled a strong team of writers, including John Burnside, Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson and A L Kennedy.
StAnza has been fortunate in having Douglas Dunn as Honorary Patron since the festival’s inception, and it is impossible to exaggerate the help and advice he has given the directors down the years. He has been persuaded to participate in the festival from time to time, notably in 2003, when his Selected Works proved so popular that we had to change the venue from the Byre Studio Theatre to the main auditorium. In 2004 StAnza commissioned a major collaborative exhibition from Douglas and the internationally renowned sculptor and installation artist, Elizabeth Ogilvie and, in the much-missed Crawford Arts Centre’s studio theatre, this interactive water-based project, The Meaning of Water, became a quiet space for meditation.
Luckily for StAnza, Douglas has agreed to remain as Honorary Patron, and we very much hope that he will continue to advise and inspire, and to give us the benefit of a lifetime of experience of poets and poetry. All of us at StAnza would like to wish him the very best of health and a very happy and productive retirement.
Trustee & co-founder, StAnza
Douglas Dunn's Poetry [PDF]
Duncan Glen : 1933-2008
StAnza was greatly saddened to hear of the death on 20th September of Duncan Glen, Scottish poet, publisher, graphic designer and typographer. Duncan was due to take part in StAnza 2009 until recent ill health forced him to withdraw from the programme. We are indebted to him for his contributions to previous festivals, including a spirited reading at 2007’s 100 Poets’ Gathering and a engaging talk on MacDiarmid in 2001. His superb, inspired design work on our programmes and flyers in 2003 and 2004 resulted in StAnza’s signature long, tall programme style and is the source of much of the festival’s design identity to this day.
John Bell : 1946-2008
It is with great regret that StAnza wishes to announce the death of our valued trustee and board member John Bell. Many members of the Stanza audience will have fond memories of John who was a stalwart supporter of the festival and a regular attender at poetry events across Scotland.
John Bell was born in Glasgow in 1946. After his schooling, he attended Glasgow University, studying for the degree of B Ed. John’s career teaching Modern Studies, led ultimately to his appointment as Principal Teacher in Modern Studies at Glenrothes High School. After nine years as PT, John was appointed as the first ever Scottish Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, a post he held for six years.
In 1984 John was elected as a Liberal Councillor in Glenrothes serving for four years. In 1990, John and his wife Catie moved to Lundin Links and in 2001 John was elected as LibDem councillor for Largo, representing the ward until 2007. John was also a director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, where he took an interest not only in the performance side of the orchestra but also the work that they do in schools.
In 2005 John was asked to join the Board of StAnza, and was a highly active member until his death. In this capacity he attended numerous board meetings, assisting in many aspects of the organisation’s work and advising on various matters, particularly those connected with the local administration. On top of that he was a regular attender at planning committee meetings and festival plenary meetings, always contributing pertinent and well-considered opinions.
John’s council connections enabled him to assist StAnza in numerous ways, most notably in arranging for the festival’s use of our depot at the St Andrews Council Offices and with securing police permission for the memorable projections during our 10th festival in 2007. He was also extremely assiduous in making personal connections with people attending the festival, especially those from overseas. His representation of StAnza in this way will, in particular, be sorely missed. In short, John was one of those people who gave more than they receive, and always with enthusiasm and commitment. All of us involved in StAnza have been privileged to know him.
The Jester by John Bell [PDF]
StAnza on Facebook
As an innovation from 2007, we have set up a StAnza Group on Facebook, the online communication network. Its purpose is threefold. Firstly, it will be a communication tool: we are aware that a growing number of people, including poets invited to StAnza, supporters and people interested in StAnza, use online networks such as Facebook as their first online communication method, and we hope it will enable us to communicate with participants and our potential audience ever more efficiently. Secondly, it will be useful as another outlet for publicising the festival and other StAnza events and projects. Finally, we hope it will become an online forum for StAnza, allowing for dialogue about the festival, before and after, with regard to practical details about programming, tickets, accommodation, events etc., but also on the themes, innovations etc - and of course about the poetry.
Anyone who has a Facebook account can join the StAnza Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6671637420.