Archive | June, 2011

Kona Macphee wins major poetry prize with ‘Perfect Blue’

25 Jun

Congratulations to Kona Macphee, who has just won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, for her collection ‘Perfect Blue’, published by Bloodaxe. Kona gave a reading at StAnza back in March. The Australian born poet now lives in Perthshire and this is her second collection. The judges praised it thus: ‘It was a book that we found ourselves returning to. What impressed us most of all was the way that Macphee’s work combined clarity and depth with a surprising and sometimes unsettling view of the world.’

Celestial success for StAnza volunteer

We’ve mentioned before that StAnza volunteer Rachael Boast has just had her first collection published by Picador. And we’ve been following its success with great delight. ‘Sidereal’ has already created a buzz in the last few weeks, with poems and/or reviews in the Times, and the Independent and her book was reviewed this weekend by  the Guardian.  She will be reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.

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Poetry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Jun

Liz Lochhead, Scotland's Makar

Poetry lovers have plenty to look forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival which has just announced its programme for August. With a range of writers chosen to reflect the fast-changing times we live in, political change, ecology and the internet, the festival aims to give a snapshot of life and literature in the 21st century.

As one of its major themes, the festival celebrates the centenaries of two poetry giants, Sorley MacLean (who was at the heart of StAnza’s Gaelic Focus) and Czelaw Milosz are the focus of Legends in Literature, a series of talks and tributes about the lives and poetry of these two major figures.  And three laureates will be present: Scotland’s new Makar, Liz Lochhead and the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and the new Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, who is the guest selector for the children’s programme.

The line-up of present day poets features Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley, Robin Robertson, and Andrew Greig, David Harsent, and Robert Bringhurst and eminent Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. Among the new voices are Rachael Boast, a StAnza volunteer for several years, whose first collection has just been published by Picador, and Ryan van Winkle, Reader-in-Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library, who hosted the Golden Hour at StAnza earlier this year.

The Scottish Poetry Library (who, like the EIBF are partners to StAnza), have brought their successful series ‘Nothing But the Poem’, offering people the chance to read poetry in depth, without prior knowledge, and in a relaxed environment. Join them for a relaxed hour at the Writers Retreat: subjects include, of course, Sorley MacLean and Czelaw Milosz.

Other treats include poets on their prose writing: Don Paterson talking about sonnets, John Burnside on both his new poetry collection, Black Cat Bone and his new novel set in the Arctic; and Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts praise the beauty of modern wastelands.

All this, plus the announcement of the winners of two major awards: the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards (which have on the shortlist, Stewart Conn and Jackie Kay), and the Edwin Morgan Competition.

Tickets for the Edinburgh International Book Festival go on sale, 28 June. The festival runs from 13-29 August. For programme and booking details click here

Job Opportunity

15 Jun

StAnza is looking for a dynamic and creative Education Programme Co-ordinator to work with the Festival Director on the organisation’s Education Programme during the festival and throughout the year, and to devise and deliver other poetry-focused educational projects.  The position is supported by Creative Scotland and will run initially for approximately eight months, from August 2011 to end March 2012. Applicants should have qualifications and experience in education at school level, a knowledge of poetry and enthusiasm for the arts.

This is a temporary, part-time freelance post for six to eight months on a contractual stipend equivalent to £5,000 per annum pro rata for the period of the contract, with the possibility of an extension. Start Date: August 2011.

For a full job description and more details, please contact Eleanor Livingstone at director@stanzapoetry.org. The post will be based in Fife and the deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 15th July.

Julia Donaldson is the new Children’s Laureate

7 Jun

Congratulations to Julia Donaldson, who has just been appointed as the new Children’s Laureate. Glasgow-based Julia was the highlight of the children’s programme at StAnza earlier this year with her show, ‘Wriggle and Roar’ (shown below). She is the first Scottish-based Children’s Laureate and takes over from the writer and illustrator Anthony Browne for a two-year tenure.

It will be no surprise to StAnza’s audiences to hear that, as well as the campaigning work she plans to do, she intends to take to the stage as often as possible. ‘I always act out my own stories with lots of audience participation so I’m planning to do lots more of that,’ she said.

Julia Donaldson on the StAnza stage in March 2011

Writing the light: St Andrews Museum’s McTaggart exhibition features poetry from StAnza

3 Jun

David Kinloch with the McTaggart poets at StAnza in March

Sunshine or rain notwithtstanding, pay a visit to the wonderful McTaggart’s Scottish Shorelines, Paintings from East and West, which has just opened at St Andrews Museum for the summer. It features 12 works by the famous Scottish painter, accompanied by poems written during StAnza back in March.

The poems are the result of a workshop led by the poet David Kinloch., in which participants were asked to respond to works by William McTaggart. A crofter’s son from Kintyre, McTaggart became known as the ‘Scottish Impressionist’ for his painting style, his love of nature, and because, like his French counterparts, he painted outdoors. Above all, the artist was fascinated by the sea.

The imaginative lyrics evoke the light and drama of McTaggart’s seascapes such as ‘The Storm’ and ‘Breezy June, Cauldron Bay’. Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone was invited to the opening last week  – and some tea and scones from the museum’s cafe. She was delighted with the exhibition: ‘How wonderful to have such an intriguing suite of poems alongside McTaggart’s glorious paintings,’ she said. ‘I’m sure the poets will be delighted to see them exhibited together.’

The exhibition runs until 4 September at St Andrews Museum, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, Fife. The scones are excellent, too.

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