Archive | July, 2011

Vote for the Scottish Book of the Year Award

27 Jul

There is still time to cast your vote for the Scottish Book of the Year Award: the public poll closes on Sunday, 31 July.  Sponsored by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, this prize is awarded to one of four writers, each of whom is already a winner in their category. This year’s shortlist comprises Leila Aboulela (Fiction) for Lyrics Alley; Sue Peebles (First Book) for The Death of Lomond Friel; Stewart Conn (Poetry) for his collection The Breakfast Room and poet Jackie Kay (Literary Non-Fiction) for her memoir Red Dust Road. For more information about the shortlist and how to cast your vote, click here

The awards ceremony hosted by BBC Radio 4 presenter, Jenni Murray, will take place at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 26 August.

The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards are held in partnership with Creative Scotland.

Philip Gross wins major children’s poetry award

13 Jul

Congratulations to Philip Gross (left) who has won the  CLPE Poetry Award — the UK’s premier award for children’s poetry — for his volume of selected poems for children, Off Road to Everywhere, which was illustrated by his son, Jonathan Gross. Philip’s event for children, based on the book, was one of the highlights of StAnza 2011 and complemented his evening Poetry Centre Stage reading for adults. The poet won the T.S. Eliot Prize last year for his collection The Water Table, and also received the Wales Book of the Year award for another work, I Spy Pinhole Eye.

The CLPE Poetry Award (the letters stand for Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) honours excellence in poetry written for children. Previous winners include the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (who assisted with this years’ judging), Jackie Kay, Roger McGough, Fiona Waters, Grace Nichols and John Agard.

Listen to Philip talking about his work in this Scottish Poetry Library Reading Room podcast which was recorded at StAnza in March. And read Susan Mansfield’s interview with him, published in The Scotsman prior to the festival.

Photograph: Stephen Morris

Check out the shortlist for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition

12 Jul

The summer of outstanding poetry continues with the announcement of the shortlist for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition, chosen this year by Vicki Feaver and Kona MacPhee, both of whom have appeared recently at StAnza. The shortlisted poets are Gill Andrews (above), Sarah Jackson, Lydia MacPherson, Jane McKie and Jane Yeh. The poets on the Commended list are Aileen Ballantyne, Ian Crockatt, Paula Cunningham, Sarah Jackson and Helen Mort. You can read the poems and the judges’ comments on the competition website,  and vote for your favourite from both lists. The results will be announced at a special event on 17th August during the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

StAnza’s Summer Open Mic

7 Jul

SAnza’s inaugural Summer Open Mic took place last night in Zest Juicing and Coffee Bar in St Andrews. This was our second joint venture with the lovely people at Zest, following the great success of the Early Evening Open Mic held in the same venue during last March’s festival. This time around, over fifty people braved the changeable Fife summer weather for a splendid couple of hours of coffees and smoothies, cakes and cookies, songs and poetry.

The event was run in collaboration with the University of St Andrews Creative Writing Summer School programme, and so as well as local poets from Fife and Tayside (a mixture of familiar faces and new arrivals), and the course tutors and staff, there was also an international feel to the evening with a selection of aspiring young poets from New York, Philadelphia, California, Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay and elsewhere. Several of the students read poems they had written in workshops that very morning: from page to stage in under six hours, poetry doesn’t get much newer than that.

Our MC for the evening, Milton Balgonie, asked the people signing up for slots to supply “one fact about you”, and these included, in no particular order: “I’m a glider pilot”; “I spent yesterday at the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood”; “makes a mean risotto & is a devil with a chainsaw”; “I have curly hair”; “blankets frighten me”; and “once trained an emu to assist with handicapped children”.

We also had a passing poet who was on his way to dinner further along the street, but who noticed the open door (and the open mic), and so stepped in to read a poem.

And by the end, even the sun showed up again to close off a fine and fabulous evening for all.


Zestful poetry’s on the menu at StAnza’s Summer Special Open Mic

5 Jul

Milton Balgoni will be MC at the Open Mic

Polish up your best poems and head to the Zest Juicing and Coffee Bar in St Andrews: famed for the smoothest of smoothies, it’s the venue tomorrow night (6th July) for StAnza’s Summer Open Mic at 7pm. Hosted by Milton Balgoni, the line-up will feature the best of local poetic talent, with contributions from students of the St Andrews Creative Writing Summer Programme. If you’re in St Andrews and want to sign up for a slot, there might still be time: email us at

Otherwise, just come along to the cafe for a listen – it’s at 95 South Street –  and to chill out with the crowd over a smoothie, a coffee and a snack from the Zest menu.  It’s what those long Scottish summer evenings are for.

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