Stanza 2016 Diary – Saturday 5 March

9 Mar

Dave Poems.

Full Disclosure: Part two of a two-part series on being at StAnza poetry festival. Still a paid gig, all of yesterday’s caveats apply.

10am: Aase Berg, Clare Best, SJ Fowler, Andrew McMillan, Justin Stephenson: Poetry Breakfast

As I sit down to write this on the mezzanine in the Byre, a poem translated by my pal Jessica Johannesson Gaitán has appeared projected on the far wall. Sometimes wee particles of unexpected joy hurl themselves at you and your heart is glad. Hey Jess! Your poem is wonderful. It’s called ‘Cathedral 2.0’, about a computer recreation of St Andrews cathedral, and has lines like ‘a tissue sustained by professionalised gaming-aesthetics’; ‘There are no stars upon my linen / or on the inside of my eyelids’.

After a morning’s formalities of tea and introductions, the Saturday morning panel was themed around the body in poetry. McMillan, whose book physical won the…

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Redirection – We have moved!

10 Dec

A warm thank you to all our blog readers over the last few years. This blog will be closing shortly and we very much hope that you will follow us to our new home at

Here are some idea s for how you can keep StAnza in your life!

WordPress users: How you can follow the StAnza blog

If you follow the stanza blog through the WordPress reader, you can still follow the blog at its new location.

To add StAnza Poetry Festival to your reader, click your Reader tab and then Manage. (On older versions click EDIT).



At the top of the page, enter in the “Enter a site URL to follow” box.



‘Reader’ users: How to use the RSS feed on the Stanza blog

Aggregator software (readers) monitor blogs you are interested in and let you know which ones have new entries without having to check each one.

Your reader should find the RSS feed automatically if you just enter the URL of the Stanza Blog feed:

Popular free aggregators are:


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StAnza 2016 programme now revealed!

30 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-04 10.43.31If, like us, you’ve been counting down the days: our new programme is finally here! StAnza 2016 will be our 19th annual festival and we do hope you’ll join us in March. We have a stunning line-up of more than 60 poets from around the world, including Jane Yolen and James Arthur from the USA, Sarah Holland-Batt from Australia, Aase Berg from Sweden, the UK’s own Lemn Sissay and a trio of German language poets, including Nora Gomringer, all making their first appearance at StAnza. Making a very welcome return are Jo Shapcott, Thomas Lynch, Sean O’Brien, Don Paterson, Pascale Petit, Jo Bell, John Burnside, Tracey Herd, Meg Bateman and Matthew Sweeney. And we’re delighted to have two very recent prize winners taking part; Andrew McMillan has this month won both the Guardian First Book Award and the Aldeburgh Fenton Best First Collection prize and he’ll be reading with Fiona Benson, joint winner of this year’s Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.

For Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design our first theme for 2016 will be City Lines. We’ll be listening out for urban verse and considering how poetry engages with city life and connects cities – the small cathedral city of St Andrews connecting with poets and poetry in cities around the world. We have designed a festival programme which celebrates architecture and explores how poetry can engage with our built environment. Both in discussions and creatively, we shall ask how poetry can help people build and sustain personal and public creative spaces, an idea at the heart of Lucy Jones’ exhibition Building with Words in which our artist in residence from 2015 has wonderfully captured the architecture of St Andrews in a collage of text and images.

Our second theme, Body of Poetry, will embrace the many ways in which poetry celebrates and explores human and other bodies, both literally and metaphorically, looking at their needs and appetites, their beauties and imperfections. Thomas Lynch, poet, essayist and funeral director, will deliver this year’s lecture on the Body of Poetry theme, as well as a workshop on Earthy Bodies. And in an innovation for 2016, we shall also have our first dedicated translated language focus with a strand of events showcasing German poetry, including KOOKbooks as featured publisher at the Poetry Market. Should any of these strands particularly take your fancy, our new website will allow you to search for events which connect with a particular programme theme or focus.

This year’s spoken word strand at the festival includes a range of the best of today’s performers, from Lemn Sissay and Nora Gomringer, who’ll both be performing at our evening Centre Stage events, to our lunchtime Poetry Café sessions which include this year’s BBC Slam champion Scott Tyrrell, a duo of Loud Poets from Edinburgh, Jemima Foxtrot’s acclaimed four-star show Melody (‘A glittering show, a gem in every sense, a shining thing’ The Stage) and Kirsten Luckins, one of a crowd of poets from the north-east of England appearing this year. We’ll also have the Scottish premiere of Beginning to See the Light, newer voices from the Young London Laureate scheme and the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer Awards, and a celebration of 21 years of The Dark Horse. We’re also welcoming as a guest to the festival the winner of the Caracas-based World Without Censorship’s current poetry competition, Letras de Libertad. Elsewhere on the programme are participants from Canada and Georgia.

StAnza is also about taking part, and Sean O’Brien will take this year’s Masterclass as part of our series of ‘take part’ events for 2016. John Burnside will lead an all-day workshop on Tuesday 1st March in the splendid setting of Kingsbarns Distillery and there are more workshops from the inimitable Jo Bell, Matthew Sweeney and Harry Man, who will be Poet in Residence. We’ll also have our usual open mics and the annual StAnza Slam; we’re inviting submissions for a couple of other poetry projects (more about those soon); and there are also a couple of open places in The StAnza Camarade led by S.J. Fowler.

Also in residence at the festival will be Rebecca Sharp as Poet-Perfumer and Clive Birnie as Hashtag# Poet with StAnza’s first installation for Instagram. The visual art programme also includes an exhibition of the Potter, Painter and Poet collaboration, Poetrytreat, a range of installations and from Berlin, an exhibition which asks: What’s the point of poetry?

If you’re looking for music, the opening night show is Sea Threads/Sea Treeds, a Shetlandic sea chronicle performed by acclaimed jazz band Tommy Smith’s Karma and poet Christine De Luca. We also have To the Lighthouse, a concert of musical responses to Virginia Woolf’s poetic novel, as well as jazz, clarsach, folk and Turning the Elements, another new music and poetry collaboration for soprano and clarinet.

Wake up and smell the poetry with our breakfast panel events. Let coffee, pastries and a provocative panel discussion on this year’s festival themes ease you in to the festival day (join the live webcasts if you can’t be there in person) and 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 2016 offers a multi-layered festival experience with something for everyone. We look forward to seeing you there. Tickets go on sale in early January so plenty of time to plan your festival diary.

You can find full details on our new website at and that’s also where you’ll also find the StAnza Blog from now on, at And if you’re looking for the Poetry Map, it’s at

We’ll be adding a few more events before March but this is the core programme. Do let us know what you think about it, and about our new website, and we look forward to seeing you in St Andrews in March.

StAnza 2016 coming very soon …

30 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-04 10.43.31 (2)Happy St Andrews Day!

The programme for StAnza 2016 will be revealed this evening: five packed days of events in St Andrews from 2–6 March, plus two workshops leading up to the festival. More than 60 poets will take part, plus musicians, visual artists, actors, film-makers and other writers. From later today – we’ll let you know when – you’ll be able to find the programme and browse through it on our new-look website. So watch this space….

Reminder that we’ve moving soon …

29 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-24 06.24.29A reminder that the StAnza Blog will shortly be moving house, probably tomorrow evening, and after that we won’t be posting any more at this web address. When we’re online at the new address, boxes unpacked, books on shelves – we’re taking all the archive of blog posts with us – we’ll post a final message here with the web address for our new home. And we do hope you’ll come and visit us there. It will be open house!

A new call for poems for StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland

28 Nov
St Andrews Castle Susanne Arbuckle

St Andrews Castle Susanne Arbuckle

Our Poetry Map of Scotland project continues apace. We now have more than 200 poems on the map, most of them also posted on our blog, and we’re working our way through several dozen more still to be added. Things have slowed down recently because of the pressure of planning for next year’s festival, and we’ll catch up with the backlog after the festival if not before, but now we have exciting news about a new project for the map.

For StAnza 2015 we featured various of the poems submitted for the map which had an island focus as part of our Archipelago of Poetry theme. Poems or excerpts from them featured on shop windows around town, on postcards, on coffee napkins and in a digital installation, a version of which can still be seen online at An Archipelago of Poems installation at StAnza 2015.

Next year will be Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design and as part of this we will have a focus on architecture at the festival, as a strand of our City Lines theme. We plan to include in this a digital installation featuring some short poems about a building or other architectural feature in Scotland. So we’re looking for poems about Scottish cottages, castles and everything in between and inviting people who would like to take part in this project to send us your short poems – published or unpublished is fine, as long as they are about Scottish buildings – and if you’ve already submitted a suitable one for the map, then email and remind us. Or we might use excerpts from longer poems.

We’ll choose a selection of the poems received to feature in a digital installation and they will also be pinned to the Poetry Map of Scotland.

Email your poems to with “Building Poems” as the subject line, and please confirm that the poems are your own and that you give us permission to include them in the installation.

StAnza 2016 flyer

28 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-04 10.43.47Actual copies of our flyer for StAnza 2016 should be out and about all over the place soon but we couldn’t resist letting you see it here as well. The wonderful artwork is by Lucy Jones, our Artist in Residence this year, and you can see the original works and others at the Byre Theatre in March. The design is by Alan, our amazing designer at Levenmouth Printers. Our thanks to them both!

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Countdown …

27 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-04 10.43.31 (2)The countdown has begun. In about four days time, at some point on Monday 30th November between 12 noon and 12 midnight, we’ll unveil our core programme for our festival next March. As ever, there’s a sense of excitement and fulfilment as all our planning over the past months – and for some events, past years – is finally tweaked into shape and we hope when you see the programme, you’ll share our excitement both over big headline names and also small quirky features specially for 2016. So many poets to hear, so much to see and do. We hope this will be a festival which offers something for all your senses. Screenshot 2015-11-27 06.59.27 (2)

This year the excitement is doubled. Not only do we unveil the programme for 2016 next Monday, we also unveil our new website. Our current website has served us well for the past eight years but it’s time to move on, and our new website allows us to offer more features, more engagement – and more poetry. Projects which have previously been stand-alone, such as the StAnza Blog and our Poetry Map of Scotland, will now become fully integrated with our other activities.

Screenshot 2015-11-27 06.59.15 (2)So, four more days, give or take a few hours. Watch this space!

Followers of the StAnza Blog, this message is for you.

24 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-24 06.24.29Many thanks to all of you who follow the StAnza Blog, whether you’ve been doing so for years – this blog is more than five years old – or for only a short time. We’re grateful to you. And now we have some exciting news. Thanks to a special grant from Creative Scotland, in a week’s time we shall be unveiling our brand new website, and for the first time the StAnza Blog will be a feature on that new website.  We’ll still be posting to the blog, and all the archived posts from 2010 until now will be there, but it will be in a new location, and looking a bit fresher.

Unfortunately if you have subscribed to receive notification of our StAnza Blog posts, I’m afraid that won’t carry over so you’ll need to re-subscribe, but I hope very much you will. We’ll be giving more information on this soon and hope very much you’ll stick with us when we move house!

A Double Bill at StAnza this week …

22 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-22 08.54.58Two lots of good news so read on, a chance for you to help StAnza with the click of a mouse – see below – and news of our November event in St Andrews.

It’s going to be a busy week ahead leading up to St Andrews Day. Book Week Scotland starts tomorrow with StAnza’s own event for this, Double Bill on Thursday 26th November at Zest, 95 South Street, St Andrews at 6.30pm. For Book Week 2015 we invited Andy Jackson, editor of the Red Squirrel Press’s Double Bill anthology, the popular sequel to Split Screen, to bring his road show to St Andrews for a StAnza special.

The live Double Bill show which he tours around the UK is a fast-moving sixty-minute mix of poetry, visuals, sounds and ideas from some of the UK’s best-loved poets with poems taking their influences from movies, television, music and popular culture. A stellar cast of over 100 writers contributed poems on a range of themes ranging from Morecambe & Wise and The Italian Job to The Archers and Van Morrison and next week a fine gathering of them, including Ruth Aylett, Tracey Herd, Brian Johnstone, Colin Will, Dawn Wood, Nikki Robson and Sally Evans, will read their own and other poems, while Zest will have some tasty surprises of their own to offer.

It’s a free event but limited by the capacity of Zest, so if you’d like to come, please email to book a place. There are still a few left. And you can find out about other Book Week Scotland events online at

And as if Book Week wasn’t enough, it’s also the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival this month, so our event falls into that as well, and additionally takes place just as a weekend of activities gets under way in the run up to St Andrews Day on Monday 30th November, when we’ll have a double launch, our new website and our core programme for StAnza 2016, 2-6 March. We’re all working flat out at present towards this and look forward to the grand online unveiling then. We’ll be announcing this with a fanfare and another newsletter to let you know once the programme is online, so be sure to check your inbox for that.

Meantime we have exciting news about funding. StAnza has been shortlisted for the Coop Membership Local Fund for the St Andrews/Tayport area. The winner is decided by public vote so if you live in that area, (it works by postcode, you can only vote for us if you live in the St Andrews/Tayport ‘constituency’) do please go online and vote for us. You have to be a Coop member but it’s easy to register online. Here are the links you’ll need. It has been a difficult year for StAnza as we cope with the impact of funding cuts and rising costs, so this is extremely welcome, and a way for our local supporters to help us, so please do if you can. Here are those links:

To vote go to: Vote!

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