Archive | November, 2011

Robert Crawford on Simonides and Body Bags: this Sunday on BBC Radio 4

24 Nov

Robert Crawford

Earlier this year at the festival, the poet Robert Crawford gave the StAnza Lecture on Simonides and the War on Terror: an insightful and closely argued discussion which connected the ancient Greek poet with modern warfare. In a key image, he compared the poetry of Simonides, which has come to us in fragments, to the body bag, making connections between ancient and modern attitudes to memorialising the casualties of war.

Following on from this, StAnza 2012 will be featuring an exhibition of poetry and images by Robert Crawford and photographer Norman McBeath from their book Simonides. You can find out more about that when the festival events programme goes online on 30 November at

Meantime they have now made a programme about Simonides, to be broadcast this Sunday (27th) at 4.30pm on BBC Radio 4. It will be available afterwards on iPlayer, if you don’t get the chance to tune in. There’s more about the broadcast here.

Powerful poetry of landscape and loss at StAnza’s reading

15 Nov

Getting lost was one of the common themes shared by the two poets at StAnza’s reading in St Andrews last night.  Fife based John Burnside’s poem ‘The Vanishing of my Sister’ recalled a sibling temporarily getting lost and   ‘The Lost Husband’ even contemplated the oddness of feeling adrift in one’s own home. Canadian poet Karen Solie evoked the rural landscapes of her native Saskatchewan, where rural depopulation has led to the emptying out of once familiar small towns. She confessed in one poem to wandering through these places using Google Earth, finding the streets ‘denuded of childhood flora’ and wondering ‘would we burn these places rather than see them change or simply burn them?’

This was a rare opportunity to see two prizewinning poets exploring profound questions about identity and displacement with great wit and grace. John Burnside, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, recently won the prestigious Forward Prize for his latest collection Black Cat Bone. Karen Solie won the Griffin Prize in 2010. She is visiting Fife as the inaugural holder of an International Writers Residency, provided by the  Barns-Graham Charitable Trust and the School of English at St Andrews. Both poets delighted the audience with new unpublished work and Solie’s stay at Balmungo House, the former home of the late artist, Wilhemina Barns-Graham, was already, she said, influencing her poetry.

StAnza will be working with the  Barns-Graham Charitable Trust to provide an all day workshop at Balmungo House during the festival next March. This and other programme details will be available later this month at

Prizewinning poets join forces at St Andrews

4 Nov

StAnza is welcoming in November with a unique evening of readings and conversation with John Burnside, winner of
this year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection, and Karen Solie, the acclaimed Canadian poet and the winner of the 2010 Griffin International Prize. John Burnside’s latest volume, Black Cat Bone, won this year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection, the first time this much lauded poet has won this award. His poetry was praised by the judges as having a ‘vitality of language, an undertow of complexity and an evocative dream logic.’  Karen Solie is considered to be one of Canada’s best poets, the recipient of many prizes, most recently the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize for her third collection, Pigeon (2009). The judges described her poems as ‘X-rays of our delusions and mistaken
perceptions, explorations of violence, bad luck, fate, creeping catastrophe, love and danger.’ Karen was one of the highlights of StAnza 2010 and she is back in  Fife as the inaugural holder of the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust/School of English International Writers Residency.

The event  will take place at 7pm on 14 November in the elegant Town Hall, Queen’s Gardens, St Andrews. Admission is free, but you would be wise to book ahead to ensure you get a place. To reserve a seat, email not later than Friday 11th November with your name and
contact phone number. Doors open at 6.40pm. Reserved seats must be claimed by 6.45pm at the latest.

The event is being held in partnership with the Barns-Graham Charitable Trust and The School of English at the University of St Andrews, with support from Creative Scotland.

%d bloggers like this: