Archive | April, 2012

Why do you come to StAnza?

29 Apr

StAnza survey QR code

Yes, another survey. This is a new one, not the one you may have completed earlier this month. We are keen – and our Funders are keen – to know why people come to StAnza, and what they feel they get out of it. This all helps us with planning future festivals, and we’d really appreciate if you could take this short survey, it should only take a couple of minutes and it’s entirely anonymous so you tell us exactly what think. Click here.  StAnza survey: Why do you come to StAnza?

World Book Day, 23rd April

23 Apr

Poetry Breakfast at StAnza 2012 (photo credit John Starr)

Today is the  ‘World Book and Copyright day’ established by UNESCO (not to be confused with ‘World Book Day’ on 1st March).  According to the United Nations webpage, 23rd April was chosen as the day in 1616 on which Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died, and it is also the anniversary date of the births and deaths of other acclaimed writers through the centuries.  Today is also the 80th anniversary of the Index Translationum being set up in 1932, a bibliography of more than 2,000,000 works translated around the world.  UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova, issued the following message for World Book and Copyright Day 2012:  “Translation is the first step towards the rapprochement of peoples, and is also a decentralizing experience, teaching diversity and dialogue. Translation is one of the driving principles of our creative diversity, which enriches each language through contact with all the others.”

Of course translation is always given a strong focus at StAnza, as part of our Border Crossing strand and elsewhere, introducing our audiences to all the wonders of poetry in other languages, and our ‘Translating the Image’  Poetry Breakfast on Sunday 18th March (which was webcast live), was for many a highlight of this year’s festival.

One of the translated poets taking part in StAnza 2012 was the Palestinian poet and journalist, Ghayath Almadhoun, who grew up in Syria and now lives in Sweden. The International Literature Festival in Berlin is marking today’s World Book Day by appealing for a worldwide reading for freedom and democracy in Syria.  StAnza isn’t aware of any public readings taking place in Scotland today, but if anyone is joining in, they are asked to contact

Dante again ….

20 Apr

Dante’s imagining of hell is a conical hole in the ground divided into 9 circles, each corresponding to a sin. The sins are in order of seriousness, with the worst at the bottom. The damned are punished for eternity in the circle corresponding to their worst sin. But how did Dante decide which sins are more serious than others. Why is gluttony worse than lust, why is fraud worse than violence? What are the underlying principles in Dante’s Inferno? How does it compare to our views now?  

If you enjoyed the My Dante event at StAnza last month, or were sorry to have missed it, you might be interested in The Dante Debate taking place in Glasgow on Sunday coming. The Dante Debate, taking place on 22nd April, from 2.00pm to 3.00pm at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, has been arranged by Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana, StAnza’s partners on the My Dante event at StAnza 2012, and anyone attending the discussion may participate, ask questions or share their thoughts on the subject.

And next month in St Andrews, on 4th May, the 10th meeting of Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana will take place at Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews when the Lectura Dantis Andreapolitana once again brings leading scholars to St Andrew. The 10th meeting of the LDA is a fresh start, leaving The Inferno behind and beginning the second stage of Dante’s journey, with lectures on the cantos I-III of Purgatorio and the history and doctrine of Purgatory by Dr Mark Elliott (University of St Andrews), Professor John Scott (The University of Western Australia),Professor Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin (Trinity College, Dublin) and Professor Zygmunt Baranski (University of Notre Dame).

The day begins at 9.40 am, introduced by Dr Robert Wilson (UniversityofSt Andrews). As always everyone is welcome to attend, and those who cannot attend all lectures are welcome to come to what they can.

For further information and the full programme visit And you can now follow the lectura on facebook:

Jane Hirshfield at the Scottish Poetry Library: bringing back memories of StAnzas past

14 Apr

Jane Hirshfield made a welcome return to Scotland yesterday with a reading at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh. Her new book, Come, Thief, is a meditation on time and the fragility of life and it ranges in subject from the pleasures of daily chores to musings on the lost poems of Sappho and many observations of human nature as part of the natural world – a relationship we often forget: A dog coming in from the rain is ‘A chaotic rainstorm/Walking on four big paws’ and melons in a field are viewed sensously: ‘An unexpected weight/the sign of their ripeness.’  Or there is this, the poignant opening to a poem about someone’s decline in old age: ‘November. One pear/Sways on the tree past leaves, past reason.’

In the audience were many who first saw Jane at StAnza 2005 and the poet herself recalled how important that festival visit was in bringing her work to the UK. Bloodaxe publisher Neil Astley, who was also at the festival, went on to publish her work: her collected volume Each Happiness Ringed by Lions and the collection,  After, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize in 2006. Find out more about them at Bloodaxe.

Jane gave an inspiring talk about her own poetry practice after her reading. For some similar thoughts, listen to Jane talking about her work to SPL podcaster Ryan van Winkle here

More MUSA poems ….

6 Apr

Check out MUSA’s blog at for more of the poems on display following their collaboration with StAnza this year.

A survey by any other name ….

1 Apr

We really do appreciate getting feedback from everyone who had any experience of StAnza this year, so whether you came to the festival or not, whether you went to dozens of events, or only caught a glimpse of what was happening while you kept company with the poem panel waiting for a train at Leuchars, enjoyed one of the poetry empire biscuits which someone gave you, or caught a bit of one of our live webcasts online, then please do click on this link and complete and return this short StAnza 2012 survey .  Your opinion matters to us!

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