Archive | July, 2012

Poetry Competition tribute for William McGonagall

31 Jul

William McGonagall, photo from Scotia Heritage

The StAnza 2011 slam was made memorable by MC Bob Holman, a huge William McGonagall fan, reciting McGonagall’s most famous poem in sections to punctuate the proceedings, and inviting the audience to join in for the final verse.  Was this perhaps the world’s first mass McGonagall reading?

This year is the 110th anniversary of the death of Dundee’s famous bard, often acclaimed as the world’s worst poet, and a poetry tribute competition, Memories of McGonagall, is being held to mark it. For those who fancy composing their own McGonagall-esque verses, there is now only one month until the closing date on 1st September.

The competition is open to unpublished poets of all ages and free to enter. The challenge is to write a poem in the style of the bard on any subject. The final judging session  will be filmed by Dundee internet news channel at Dundee Literary Festival, 28th October. Apart from fame and fortune, the prizes include a biography by journalist Norman Watson and a 1/4 stone of sausages. The entries will be judged by popular opinion with the judges, who include Sheena Wellington, declaring the overall winner.

At a second event, Dundee Leisure and Communities will be hosting a November reading and have agreed to accept the winning entry into the city’s historic McGonagall Collection. In all, this is a fun, free and wonderful opportunity for an unpublished poet.
Further details can be found on Scotia Heritage on Facebook or at the Scotia Heritage website.

StAnza’s Digital Slam winner: Kevin P. Gilday

20 Jul

When Kevin P. Gilday (pictured) emerged from the fabulous array of performances on the shortlist to be voted the winner of our inaugural Digital Slam, we were intrigued. It turns out that Kevin, who lives in Glasgow, is a relative newcomer to performance poetry, and he was both surprised and delighted to win.

In the first of our Digital Slam showcases, we’ve embedded his winning performance below, plus another, and we’ve asked Kevin to tell us a few things about himself and his work. As he explains, his background in music has been a great help in developing his poetry – and he has certainly been busy!

“I was introduced to the world of performance poetry by a friend just under a year ago, previous to that I had been performing some of my early pieces as a mid-set break during the live performances of an electronic band I was involved in. From there I made tentative steps into Glasgow’s performance poetry scene and, I’m delighted to say, was greeted and embraced by the many talented veterans on the circuit. My poetry is still developing but already I feel as if my style has a myriad of recognisable traits. My subject matter is often the minutiae of working class life in modern Britain – the situations, relationships and thoughts that define a generation of directionless twenty-somethings. Stylistically I take as much from contemporary music as I do from established poets – the lyrics of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith and Why?’s Yoni Wolf being especially influential.

“Since then I’ve released Graphite, a hybrid album of spoken word and avant garde pop, I’ve composed poems to be used in the screenplay for a film entitled Mother (due to be filmed later this year in Estonia by Factotum Films), as well as taking poetry to the live music scene – doing full length sets as support for established bands at such venues as The Captain’s Rest and The Art School.

“I’m hoping that winning the StAnza Digital Slam will help build momentum and open up opportunities to take my work to a larger audience. Once again my sincere thanks to StAnza for including me amongst such an immensely talented shortlist and to everyone that voted for myself and the other artists listed.”


Here is Kevin’s winning Digital Slam performance:


And another of Kevin’s performances:


More of Kevin’s work can be found on his Tumblr and Facebook pages; his album Graphite can be downloaded for free from Bandcamp.

Kevin’s next live performance will be on the Spoken Word Stage at this year’s Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival, which takes place on 24th–26th August.


Our thanks once again to everyone who entered the slam, and to all those who followed and voted. Look out for more on the Digital Slam in the next few weeks.

Edinburgh Festivals Poetry & Spoken Word Calendar

17 Jul

The Grassmarket at Festival Time, photocredit copyright to Edinburgh Inspiring Capital

 Our Calendar of poetry and spoken word events taking place in Edinburgh during next month’s festival season is now bulging at the seams, with 540 performances from 68 separate shows or events.  We have kept it as an Excel document, so everyone can sort it to suit themselves.  I hope there are good audiences for all the events, and we’d be happy for short reviews to be posted as comments on this page. And if anyone manages to go to all 68 shows, do let us know! Check it online at the link below.  

StAnza’s Edinburgh Poetry & Spoken Word Calendar August 2012

And the winner is . . .

16 Jul

Bob Holman at the 2011 StAnza Slam
Photo by Long Nguyen

After a weekend of voting, tweeting and much lively online banter, the cyber dust is settling, our slam is over and the votes have been counted. It’s been a close run thing but a winner has emerged.

Therefore, in the tradition of awards the world over – but without the ripping of envelopes – we hereby announce the top five slammers in reverse order:

In fifth place: Tila and Tavelah Robinson

In fourth place: Elspeth Murray and Richard Medrington

In third place: Tony Walsh (Longfella)

In second place: Donnie Welch

And the winner is . . . Kevin P. Gilday

We will be posting Kevin’s winning poem, plus another, on this Blog on 20th July.

Congratulations to all those on the shortlist, and thanks to everyone who took part – and everyone who voted! Keep an eye out for some highlights from the longlist over the next few weeks . . .

Roll up and vote in the StAnza Digital Slam

13 Jul

Photo by Long Nguyen

Ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, poets and spoken word artists, welcome one and all to the StAnza Digital Slam 2012!

The StAnza judges have worn out their headphones and risked clinical screen-burn to whittle down the wonderful entries to a shortlist of the crème de la crème of internet poetry performances.

The diversity and quality of the entries was staggering. Poems of all shapes and sizes were recorded in bike sheds, forests, graveyards, underneath towers, in front of live audiences, and in recording studios. Poets ranging from their teens to their sixties, award-winning to unpublished, and in a variety of languages, sent in entries from as far away as Denmark and the USA, and as close to home as St Andrews itself.

Entries have been scored by a panel of judges for Content and Performance to produce the shortlist you can see in alphabetical order below – but the overall winner will be decided by you!

After you’ve watched all the entries, scroll down find to find the voting widget where you can show your support for the poet/spoken word artist you think should win.

Shortlisted slammers – yes, you are allowed to vote for yourself.

Without further ado, the shortlist!


1. Jo Bell – The Shipwright’s Love Song


2. Kareem Parkins Brown (Kuaint) – Grey Gang


3. Kevin P. Gilday – The Vision (Jesus of Possil)


4. Harry Giles – Panic


5. Elspeth Murray and Richard Medrington – The Ambassador’s Lament


6. Tila and Tavelah Robinson – The Twins


7. Anthony Robson – Wailing Daily


8. Edwin de Voigt – Planeet Nu


9. Tony Walsh (Longfella) – A Girl, Like, Y’Know


10. Donnie Welch – Hawaiian Shirts

11. JL Williams – The Library


12. Chris Young – The Minotaur



Thanks to everyone who took part!

Click here for the results.

The Digital Slam shortlist will be here tomorrow at noon: look, listen and vote!

12 Jul

Yes, we are only one sleep away (here in Scotland at any rate) from finding out who has reached the shortlist in our Digital Slam. Tomorrow at noon, BST we will post the names and links here. If you entered, now’s the chance to find out if you made the list.

And this is when our online audience gets involved.  Now it’s over to you to look, listen and vote for your favourite.  The voting takes place over the weekend, closing at midday on Monday 16th July, BST.  The lucky winner will be announced shortly after, when the votes have been counted.  Wherever you are, you can follow this event on Twitter via @StAnzaPoetry and/or #DigitalSlam

Thanks to those who entered

11 Jul

Bob Holman at the 2011 StAnza Slam
Photo by Long Nguyen

StAnza was delighted by the volume of entries for our inaugural Digital Slam, and the judges who chose the shortlist were very impressed by the quality and diversity of what was submitted and delighted to discover so many excellent performers out there.

Our congratulations to those who made the cut (look out for the shortlist on Friday), and commiserations to those who didn’t – better luck next time!

As it was so hard for the judges to narrow it down to this shortlist of twelve, after the winner is announced, we plan to post links to the entries which just didn’t make the shortlist, so everyone else will have the chance to enjoy them as well.

Edinburgh festival season is coming up soon ….

9 Jul

Crowd at Grassmarket, Edinburgh (photo copyright Edinburgh Inspiring Capital)

A month from now Edinburgh will be jam-packed with festivals, and if past years are anything to go by, a plethora of poetry and spoken word events will feature at many of them. As well as the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, there is a wide range of sub-festivals, free festivals and stand-alone events. But many as there will be, it’s hard to track them all down amongst the thousands of events taking place around the city. There will also soon be a plethora of accompanying festival websites, brochures and flyers, not to mention Facebook posts, blog entries and tweets, but as far as StAnza is aware, as yet no one-stop for poetry and spoken word enthusiasts to find out all that’s on offer. Alas.

So this summer, as a gesture of support both to those staging poetry and spoken word events, and to those who wish to attend, StAnza plans to put together and post online a diary of the poetry and spoken word related events taking place in Edinburgh next month, insofar as we can find the information. How comprehensive this will be depends in part on you. We’re inviting festival and event organisers as well as performers and supporters to give us information on events we should include. The information we are looking for, preferably in this format and order, is as follows:

Start date (eg 5th – we assume August so no need to say so)

End date

Start to end time (7.00pm-8.00pm)

Event title

Performer(s) name(s)

Venue name and short address  (we assume Edinburgh so no need to say so)


Notes (eg adult only, for children, outdoors, etc)

Weblink (one only)

We’ll make up a database of this, which you can see here. So if people can provide information in that format, all the better, but if not, we’ll be able to adapt it.  However we’re only looking for poetry and spoken word related events, so we wouldn’t want brochures, programmes for or links to whole festivals or related events, unless they all fit this criteria.

Please send information to  Thanks! And we’ll keep you posted about how this is going.

StAnza’s Edinburgh Poetry & Spoken Word Calendar August 2012

StAnza Digital slam: voting starts Friday,13th

7 Jul

Thanks to all who entered our digital slam. The shortlist will appear on this blog at midday on Friday 13th. Then it’s the voters’ turn to decide: so don’t miss the chance to check out the entries and cast your votes.

There’s still time to enter our Digital Slam!

5 Jul

UPDATE (7 July) – entries are now closed for the Digital Slam, but you’ll be able to view the shortlist and cast your votes next weekend (see below).

Since we announced our Digital Slam, there has been a wonderful response, lots of encouragement and better still, entries have been coming in thick and fast. There is still time to send your entry in: the deadline is midnight Friday 6th July.  Here’s a recap of the details:

StAnza’s online slam competition is open for entries, so that poets from everywhere can join in and audiences can sample the performances and vote for the winner. If you missed out on StAnza’s famous live slam and open mic events at the festival in March, now’s your chance to get involved, either by entering or by judging. We are running this event using all our social media platforms and centred on the StAnza Blog.

We are now open for entries from until midnight on Friday 6th July 2012. To enter, all you have to do is supply an audio or video file of yourself performing your poem. Upload it onto YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, AudioBoo or other online platform. Then send the URL to our designated email address,

Your clip should be of a single poem and should last no more than 3 minutes.

Our judges will then make a shortlist and these entries will be posted on the StAnza Blog for the online audience to view and then cast their votes, using our dedicated voting link. You can vote from midday 13th to midday 16th July. The winner will be announced on 16th July after the polls close. The winning performance will be showcased on our platforms on 20thJuly and we will include a second clip by the winner.

And yes, there will be a mystery prize for the winner that is, in the tradition of slams the world over, totally pointless, yet strangely covetable.

You can also follow this event on Twitter via @StAnzaPoetry and/or #DigitalSlam

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