StAnza: The Organisation

StAnza's 10th birthday cake courtesy of sponsors Fisher & Donaldson

StAnza's mission is to celebrate poetry, to bring poetry to audiences and to enable encounters with poetry. The organisation works all year round to deliver poetry events and projects in Scotland and beyond.

StAnza’s main focus is our annual festival in St Andrews each spring. Now recognised as one of the leading poetry festivals in the UK and Europe, StAnza has over the years featured a strong list of contemporary poets from within Scotland and also from across the UK and the rest of the world. StAnza has brought a range of major poets to the festival, commissioned art works from leading artists, featured both past and present Poet Laureates, and has brought poets from over 50 countries worldwide to the festival.

Drawing by Jenny Soep from StAnza 2008 programme

StAnza also actively promotes readings in foreign or minority languages and has featured poets reading in many of the national languages of Europe, as well as in regional languages and dialects. We regularly include Gaelic and Scots language poets.

StAnza is very much a cross-arts festival with poetry at its core. As well as readings, the festival features performances, in conversations, an annual lecture, workshops and masterclasses, films and video projections, children’s events, stand-up sessions and a range of exhibitions and installations. Music, drama, comedy, dance, contemporary circus and regular digital events have all played a part in the festival in recent years. Full lists of all previous festival participants can be seen in the past participants section of the site archives, at the Previously at StAnza page.

The StAnza Festival was conceived in 1997 by its founders, three St Andrews-based poets, Brian Johnstone, Anna Crowe and Gavin Bowd, the first two of whom continue to be involved in the organisation. The first festival was launched on National Poetry Day in 1998. StAnza continued to take place each October until its relaunch as a spring festival in 2003, from which time it has been held annually in March. All previous festival programmes can be seen in the past programmes section of the site Archives.

Burns Out of His Box by Reinhard Behrens from his StAnza 2004 exhibition

The festival highlights over the years have been many and varied, from Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s appearances in 1998 and 2010 to our contemporary project, the digital Poetry Map of Scotland. In 2007 we celebrated ten years of StAnza with our 100 Poets Gathering; and our 2009's Distant Voices virtual festival webcast to 68 countries was a world first. As part of our participation in Homecoming Scotland 2009, the festival was launched by then First Minister Alex Salmond, leading to the festival being shortlisted for a Scottish Thistle Award.

StAnza’s spring festival has now grown to be recognised as the major poetry event in Scotland, attracting audiences from across the country and beyond. It is one of the principal poetry festivals with a nationwide reputation operating in the UK and has been recognised as a major European festival of poetry through its involvement with the international poetry festivals’ network based in Berlin. StAnza is also a founder member of Bookfestival Scotland, the professional association of Scottish literary festivals established in 2009.
StAnza also delivers schools and community workshops and projects throughout the year, as well as stand-alone events in St Andrews and elsewhere, and multiple digital projects.

Drawing by Gerald Mangan from StAnza 2001 programme

Organisational developments saw StAnza becoming a registered charity in 2001. In 2003 the organisation was reformed as a charitable company limited by guarantee under a board of trustees to whom the paid officials—the Festival Director, Artistic Director and Press & Media Manager—were directly responsible. In 2010 the staffing of StAnza was restructured with the appointment of the current Festival Director who is now supported by a Press & Media Manager, Programme Co-ordinator and Education Co-ordinator, and from 2010 StAnza developed a year round programme of schools, community and public events and projects. StAnza is an Inland Revenue recognised charity.

The festival is put together by the Festival Director and Programme Co-ordinator supported by a planning committee formed of volunteers drawn from the local, student and academic communities who help to plan, organise and develop the programme, meeting throughout the year and chaired by the Festival Director. The committee is supported by various voluntary educational, legal and financial advisors.

StAnza funding, from the festival's inception in 1998, has been received principally from the Scottish Arts Council and their successor agency, Creative Scotland. This has increased steadily over the years. Regular funding contributions have been received from Fife Council and, since 2003, from various sections of The University of St Andrews. StAnza received funding to contribute in 2009 to Homecoming Scotland, and thereafter received funding from EventScotland. The festival is, however, fully independent of all of these organisations.

StAnza: The People

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone
speaks at a Festival Launch
Photo: Al Buntin

Festival Director: Eleanor Livingstone

Press & Media Manager: Louise Robertson

Programme Co-ordinator: Annie Rutherford


Former director and co-founder Brian Johnstone with Seamus Heaney
Photo: Graeme Mutch

Eleanor Livingstone has worked for StAnza since 2005. She has a background in legal work and as a creative writing tutor. She is also a poet, editor and reviewer.

Louise Robertson studied tourism management and journalist at Napier University. She has worked in broadcast journalism and PR work since 2001, including work for other festivals and as Head of Public Affairs for an animal welfare charity.

Annie Rutherford is the editor of Far Off Places and the co-founder of the Poetree Festival in Göttingen. She also writes and translates.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP
Professor Douglas Dunn
Professor Kathleen Jamie
Billy Kay
Dr Robyn Marsack

Some of the StAnza team sharing a joke with Jay Parini
Photo: Al Buntin

Honorary Presidents:
Anna Crowe
Brian Johnstone

Colin Will (Chair)
Drew Clegg (Company Secretary)
Maureen Jack
Anna Crowe
Chris Jones
Shona Munro
Tom Jones
Claire Easingwood
Bob Steel
Kathryn Ross
Lorraine Fannin

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone introduces a reading from Ghent at the Distant Voices virtual festival in 2009
Photo: Iain Gray

Dr. Colin Will was formerly Chief Librarian of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, then respectively Garden Secretary, Director of Corporate Services, and Acting Accountable Officer, in which roles he administered the Garden's annual budget, staff and estates. He is also a former Chair of the Scottish Poetry Library and has experience in the administration of international arts organisations. He was formerly Chair of StAnza from 2006-2009.

Drew Clegg is a retired businessman and company director; Bob Steel is a retired accountant; and Claire Easingwood is a retired teacher of English and has experience as a trained counsellor. She is also a director of Fife Society for the Blind and was formerly a director of East Fife Women's Aid. Anna Crowe, herself a poet and translator, is the festival's co-founder and former Artistic Director; Maureen Jack is a retired Educational Psychologist; Dr. Chris Jones and Dr. Tom Jones are both poets and senior academics in the University of St Andrews School of English; Shona Munro was Fife's Education Service's Principal Psychologist and a previous Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival; and Kathryn Ross ran the Scottish Book Trust with Lindsey Fraser from 1991 until 2002 before starting Fraser Ross Associates Literary Agency and Consultancy which is on the judging panel for many literary prizes and also administers the Blue Peter Book Awards on behalf of the BBC. Lorraine Fannin has extensive literary experience, including 20 years managing Publishing Scotland. She was a member of the bid negotiation team and founding trustee of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, and was awarded an OBE for services to publishing in 2006.


Former Festival Director Brian Johnstone (2001- 2010) and new Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone (2010-) toast the future
Photo: Al Buntin

Margaret Jarvis (Committee Secretary)
Jean Johnstone (Exhibitions Advisor)
Andy Jackson (Programme Assistant)
Robin MacKenzie (Distribution)
Peter Jarvis (Distribution)
Kathleen Gray (Workshops Officer)
Jim Carruth (Artistic Advisor)
Colm Lyons (Legal Advisor)
Jenny Elliott (Exhibitions)
Julia Prescott (Exhibitions)
Colin Mackay (Accommodation)
Brian Johnstone
Claudia Daventry
John Taylor
Pete Cura
Barbara Davey
Annwen Griffiths
Helen Nicholson
Iain Gray
Samantha Evans
Megan Shaefer
Nicole Bell
Reann Radcliff
Patrick Campbell
Rupert Crisswell
Alan Gay
Wendy Orr
Adrianna Smith
Annie Kelly
Julie Yau
Katherine Bone

StAnza - Scotland's Poetry Festival - is a private company limited by guarantee and registered under the Companies Acts (Registered No. SC253342). Recognised by the Inland Revenue as a Scottish Charity (Charity No. SC 031789). StAnza is a fully independent festival funded by Creative Scotland, with contributions from Fife Council and the University of St Andrews.