Archive | October, 2011

StAnza sets up stall

30 Oct

Fife Book Fair

StAnza had a presence in Dunfermline last weekend at the Fife Book Fair which took place in the lovely conservatory annex to the Tiffany cafe in the Carnaigie Hall overlooking the Forth road and rail bridges. Excellent coffee, tea and cakes were consumed with enthusiasm as people came in to browse, and it was nice to see plenty of familiar faces on the other stalls. On the StAnza stall were supplies of our flyer for StAnza 2012, vibrant in its blue and black, but there was also interest in the few remaining copies of Skein of Geese, our anthology from the 100 Poets event which celebrated our 10th anniversary back in 2007. The anthology has been a regular seller at the festival each year and it’s rather sad that we’re now down to the last half dozen copies. And as ever, there was huge enthusiasm for the poems-for-all “sma buiks” left over from March.

Yesterday was the turn of the annual By Leaves We Live book fair at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

By Leaves We Live

Once again StAnza set up stall along with dozens of book and magazine publishers. It was a lively day. The sun shone (mostly) making the library shelves gleam and the library staff were on hand to assist, providing stands, blue tack and access to their kitchen for reviving cups of tea. After the doors opened at 11am people came in good numbers, books and magazines were bought, flyers passed from hand to hand, and interesting conversations took place – in the library and also in the coffee house next door which turned into a regular Poetry Cafe for the day.

There were also formal talks in the library every hour on the hour throughout the afternoon, with standing room only for some. Once again the “sma buiks” were hugely popular and fortunately poems-for-all’s Richard Hansen was on hand to replenish our depleted stocks.


Canadian poet becomes first transatlantic Bard of the Mod

25 Oct

Congratulations to Lewis MacKinnon, the Canadian poet, who was crowned the Bard of the Mod last week in Stornaway, the first transatlantic poet to receive the honour. Lewis, who hails from Cape Breton and is a champion of Gaelic in Canada, took part in StAnza in 2010. Find out more about the ceremony here.

Shortlist for T.S. Eliot award announced

20 Oct

We StAnza folk are excited to see the rich array of poets shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, one of the most prestigious in the poetry world.  Contenders include the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, recent Forward Prize winner John Burnside, who teaches at the University of St Andrews, and several poets who, like them, have appeared at StAnza in recent years: David Harsent, Sean O’Brien, Esther Morgan, Leontia Flynn and Daljit Nagra. The full list is here:

Special 2 for 1 ticket offer: John Cooper Clarke

14 Oct

Legendary “Punk Poet” John Cooper Clarke is set to play the HMV Picture
House Edinburgh on Friday 28th October 2011.

His biting, satirical, political and very funny verse, delivered in his
rapid-fire performance style, made him a figurehead for the Punk movement in
the 70s and 80s and his influence is clear in the songs of bands like the
Arctic Monkeys, Reverend and The Makers and Plan B. Now he is back performing
again and his Edinburgh show will be an unmissable experience for fans old and
new. Find out more about him here:

StAnza supporters and followers have the chance to buy two tickets
for the price of one., All you need to do is click on the link below to order
the tickets and use the code word ‘edinburgh’

Tickets are subject to availability.

Sporting chances for slammers at St Andrews

9 Oct

MC Harry Giles

Saturday night’s Risk-a-Verse slam at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews had it all: high emotion, lots of laughs, bespoke prizes for the poets and nail-biting drama both on and off-stage.  One poet had come from Amsterdam to take part, three more found themselves stranded on the Forth Road Bridge in a go-slow traffic snarl-up  – would they or wouldn’t they make to the show on time?

Fifteen poets were set to take part in the StAnza/Inky Fingers slam.  Poetry competitions can be as fiercely contested as any, but this one, held as part of this month’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film festival (as well as fitting in with National Poetry Day and its Games theme), was billed as friendly and thanks to MC Harry Giles  (the M is for magnanimous) the fast-moving, electric atmosphere in the Studio Theatre was inspiring. Poets brought up all sorts of subjects: love, sex, anti-depressants, the Coalition Government, supermarkets, men who don’t dance… strong competition indeed and the judges, Sophie Baker and Young Hawkins, descending unashamedly into sporting cliché after the first half, agreed it was ‘all to play for, Harry.’

We were live-tweeting the event and at least one follower was keeping track of the slam while watching the X Factor, but the tensions were rising far higher in St Andrews. The audience had cast their votes, the judges were ready to confer – but would those last three poets make it over the bridge? Yes, following a flurry of texts and ‘where are you now?’ and with seconds to spare, all three arrived, performed their slots and marvelled at their good luck.

More drama as the play-offs started and first –time slammer, Stewart Hogg, emerged as a finalist – good poetry slams are made of such discoveries. Both he and the eventual winner Claire Askew (both pictured) were treated to rapturous applause. All the contestants were awarded prizes to match their poems: fudge for the sweetest poem, a Bart Simpson mug for the scariest, a torch for the flashiest … everyone was a winner.  

Our thanks to all the poets who took part Alec Beattie, Andy Jackson, Claire Askew, Stephen Welsh, Colin McGuire, Douglas John McLean Cairns, Jonny Lovett, Mairi Campbell Jack, Rose Fraser, Rory Woodroffe, Matt Macdonald, Stewart Hogg, Nicola Watt, Robin Smith and Gill Andrews, And of course to the enthusiastic audience.

Forward Poetry Prize Winners Announced

6 Oct

St Andrews has much to celebrate in the Forward Prizes for Poetry this year.

Our congratulations to StAnza regular John Burnside, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, whose Black Cat Bone won the prize for Best Collection last night; and also to StAnza volunteer Rachael Boast, who studied for a PhD in Creative Writing at the university, and whose Sidereal was a richly deserved winner of the prize for Best First Collection. The prize for Best Single Poem was awarded to the late R. F. Langley for ‘To a Nightingale’.


Rachael will be reading at the West Port Book Festival on Saturday, 15 October, and we are delighted to announce that she will also be appearing at StAnza next March.


A full list of the poets for StAnza 2012 will be published on our website later today.

A warm literary welcome at the Westport

4 Oct

Edinburgh’s best kept secret is the Westport Book Festival, held
among the bookshops, pubs and trendy art spaces in the city’s answer to Soho.
Starting next Thursday, 13 October and running till Sunday 16th, the festival in its new
autumn guise offers a varied and witty programme: new and established talents
(the sort of people, such as Janice Galloway, who sell out at the summer
festivals can be seen here in smaller, more intimate venues), open mics,  plus a spot of book binding  and tea dancing.  There’s plenty of poetry to enjoy, including a smattering of folk familiar to StAnza: book a place at Jo Bell’s workshop , catch readings by Rachael Boast,  William Letford, Tracey S Rosenberg and Emily Dodd, or listen to Bruce Durie chat about what is thought to the first poem in Scots. Check the full programme  and take advantage of the generous  ticketing system: 40 per cent of tickets are available in advance, the rest on the day. All tickets are free! The festival website is a mine of information:

Come along to Risk-A-Verse!

3 Oct

National Poetry Day is on Thursday and StAnza’s unique contribution to the celebrations take place on Saturday. There’s still time to book a ticket!

Risk-A-Verse is a fast-paced poetry slam we’ve organised with our friends in Edinburgh, the fabulous Inky Fingers, spoken word collective. Fourteen poets are slotted to pit their wits against each other, with a hand-picked panel of discerning judges and the audience to decide on the winners. No one will be on their best behaviour and bad puns will be awarded prizes. The fun begins at 7.30pm at the Byre Theatre on Saturday 8 October. Tickets, £3 (£2) are available from the box office, 01334 475000.

Risk-a-verse is being held as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

National Poetry Day roundup, Part I

2 Oct

This Thurday, 6th October, is National Poetry Day, 2011  in the UK, with a theme this year of “Games”. StAnza’s contribution to this is our Friendly Slam at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews next Saturday, 8th October, in partnership with Inky Fingers, when we’ll have great fun with the Games theme.  The National Poetry Day website has a What’s On listing if you want to find out what might be happening near you.

We have been sent details of various activities taking place, including a re-dediation event at the Poetry Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow at around 1.00 pm.  The Poetry Garden was built ten years ago as part of Japan 2001. For its 10th anniversary, it has been relocated to a more prominent position at the top of the hill within the Botanic Gardens, next to the small pavilion above the flagpole and the Rose Garden. We hope they have sunshine, but if it rains, it will move indoors.  The Consul-General of Japan will be present at a Japanese tea party and there will be readings from Tom Leonard and Katherine Sowerby.

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