Archive | August, 2012

Aesthetica Poetry Competition

26 Aug

Win £500 and publication with the Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition!

Aesthetica Magazine is inviting all poets to submit their work into the Creative Writing Competition, which is an opportunity for existing and aspiring poets to showcase their work to a wider, international audience. Entry is £10 +VAT and this permits the submission of two poems.  You may enter as many times as you wish.  Deadline for entries: 31 August 2012

For more details and to enter, go to:

StAnza on film: the story behind our 2012 documentary

22 Aug

On 20 August, StAnza officially launched its new documentary film of this year’s festival. The film has recently been previewed on YouTube, Facebook and has been uploaded on StAnza’s website, but this was the first time it had been screened in front of a live audience: during the ‘St Andrews Year of Celebration’ showcase at Creative Scotland, Waverley Gate.

The project had its beginnings when Eleanor Livingstone, Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival commissioned the filmmaker Daniel Warren to make a short documentary of the 2012 festival. The festival is grateful for the help of EventScotland who provided funding.

‘We wanted to capture the essence of the festival on film, to give a flavour of how lively and diverse it can be, in the stunning setting of St Andrews,’ Eleanor says. ‘With our vibrant hub at the Byre Theatre, StAnza has a unique, welcoming atmosphere and the film is a visual record of that.’

Daniel came to St Andrews for the festival (which took place 14-18 March) and, with the assistance of Ishbel Beeson, filmed poets in live readings and performances, on stage and behind the scenes. He interviewed poets, artists, musicians and festival-goers, took in the sights and sounds of the town itself and the result was an intriguing insight into the festival.

The film is structured as ‘a day in the life of StAnza’, opening with the arrival of visitors at the rail station of Leuchars. The camera takes the viewer around town and through many events from art exhibitions, an open mic in a local café, to centre stage readings and performances and talks by, among others, Jackie Kay, Jo Bell,  actor Karen Dunbar, Kwame Dawes, Tony Curtis and Robin Cairns. As the sun goes down, the party atmosphere at the Byre gets – literally – into full swing with music from the Mending Hearts Trio.

Poetry turns up in unexpected guises: on Poetry Digest’s biscuits and bananas, as labels attached to whisky bottles in Ken Cockburn and Alec Finlay’s collaboration, The Road North, and slowly appearing under the chisel of patient stone carver John Neilson. Then there’s the bartender who bursts into a recitation of Tam O’ Shanter; poetic ‘Clanger speak’ from Andy Jackson during the launch of his TV and film inspired anthology, and slam champion Robin Cairns. The film shows how poetry can inspire other art forms, and become by turns humorous, experimental, crowd pleasing, celebratory and thought-provoking.

Eleanor Livingstone says of the film: ‘The title is taken from a story told by Jackie Kay during her performance. Her son, on hearing that his mother was “going out to the poetry’’, used to ask where this place called poetry was. StAnza – and St Andrews – she joked was certainly one of these places. The film successfully captures the humour, charm and the sense of community created by StAnza and by St Andrews.’

You can view the film on StAnza’s website:

Sample superb poetry and music this week in Edinburgh

18 Aug

With the festival season in Edinburgh hotting up (with weather to match), it’s great to see so much poetry on offer across the city. Starting on 22 August, Liz Lochhead leads the line-up of poets performing at Poetry in the Persian Tent, part of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, based at St John’s Church in the West End.

True to the ethos of this festival, the readings are in aid of the Old MacDonald had a Farm for Africa Project, in association with Oxfam. Two familiar StAnza faces have been involved in setting up this event: poets Jim Carruth and Stephanie Green, who will also be reading. There’ll be an hour a day of poetry and music each day at 11am from 22nd to 26th August. Headlining poets are the aforesaid Liz, John Glenday, Jackie Kay, Vicki Feaver, Aonghas MacNeacail and Stewart Conn. Check out the full line-up here  Tickets are £10 (£8), available through the Hub box office from their website  or email, or telephone 0131 473 2000. You can also get them on the door, but as the space is limited, it’s advisable to book ahead.  

One of the Persian tent poets, Ryan van Winkle, has a solo poetry show of his own at the arty new festival venue, Summerhall, near the Meadows. ‘Red like a room our room used to feel’ is a short one-to-one reading in the intriguingly decorated surroundings of the ‘red room’, accompanied by a subtle sound track. You can even have a cup of tea or a wee taste of port. Details at   And there’s plenty more to look forward to this week, including the StAnza showcase on 20th August, also at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace, featuring John Siddique, Anna Crowe, and Dawn Wood; the fabulous BBC Slam, running each afternoon from 20th (our Director Eleanor Livingstone is one of the judges), and poets Lavinia Greenlaw, Don Paterson and William Letford among the poets appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. And you can find a host of other poetry events on our handy calendar:

 StAnza’s Edinburgh Poetry & Spoken Word Calendar August 2012

Don’t miss three StAnza poets in Edinburgh, Monday 20 August – book now!

16 Aug

The StAnza Showcase at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace features three outstanding poets associated with StAnza.  John Siddique appeared at this year’s StAnza and is making a welcome return to Scotland. Anna Crowe lives in St Andrews, Fife, is a co-founder of StAnza and served as the festival’s Artistic Director for 7 years. She is known both as a poet and a translator of poetry. Dawn Wood works as a lecturer at University of Abertay, Dundee. Her collection Quarry (Templar Poetry, 2008) was shortlisted for Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. She has also published Connoisseur (2009) and Hermes with Gift (University of Abertay Press, 2011).

The event takes place at 4.00pm on Monday 20th August at St John’s Church at the west end of Princes Street. Tickets are available from the festival’s box office or online here.

Poetry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 11-24 August

8 Aug

The marquees are almost complete in Charlotte Square which means that the Edinburgh International Book Festival is about to kick off – it opens this Saturday 11th August. And there is a poetry strand this year that has many pleasures to offer including readings by three Makars, some startling new voices and a chance to see some favourite names from StAnzas past.

There’s a rare appearance by the wonderful Alice Oswald, (pictured left), a chance to catch up with StAnza 2012 Poet-in-Residence, Lavinia Greenlaw (here reading with American poet Marie Howe), and readings by Paul Durcan, Don Paterson, Ruth Padel, and Aonghas MacNeacail. Not to be missed are Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, and Edinburgh’s Makar, Ron Butlin.

Sample the talents of the rising stars: William Letford, (left, below)the outstanding new poet who delighted us at StAnza in 2011, will be appearing with Sean Borodale. And the winner of the Edwin Morgan Prize, which is aimed at encouraging new poets, will be announced at a gala reading by all those shortlisted.

There’s also the unpredictable and fast moving Impro-Slam, featuring top performance poets. Alan Gillis heads up a lively discussion panel on Poetry & Ideas, exploring the experimental aspects of contemporary poetry. On a more celebratory note, Bashabi Fraser unites the the Ganga and the Tay in a celebration of Scottish and Indian poetry and music.

And, contrary to the myth that everything at EIBF is irrevocably sold out within minutes, there are tickets available for these events.  Don’t hesitate too long though.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place in Charlotte Square Gardens from the 11 – 27 August. To view the full programme of Book Festival events please visit

Tickets for all events can be booked:


By phone: 0845 373 5888

In person – until the 10 Aug: at The Hub on Castlehill, Edinburgh, EH1 2NE

In person – once the Festival has opened on the 11 Aug: on site in Charlotte Square Gardens in the Entrance Tent

Photograph of William Letford by Seppi Preston

Who will win the Scottish Book of the Year Awards? It’s time to vote…

4 Aug

The Scottish Book of the Year Awards cause a stir in the literary world every year. Although a panel of judges award prizes for the best books  in four categories (Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry and First Book), it’s up to the public to vote for the overall winner.  Last year the wonderful Jackie Kay won for her memoir Red Dust Road.  Who will carry off the award this year?

The 2012 finalists – who are, of course, winners already in their categories – are all outstanding:  Ali Smith, for her novel There but for the, Janice Galloway for her non fiction book All Made Up, Simon Stephenson for his first book  Let Not the Waves of the Sea.

The Poetry winner and finalist is Angus Peter Campbell for Aibisidh, a collection in Gaelic and English, described ‘a powerful and sharp-eyed examination of the fragmentation of language and identity in our modern global age’. Campbell is from South Uist. One of the foremost Gaelic poets, he has chronicled his community in times of change, ‘the fragmentary nature of lives, memories and connections to the Gaelic language.’ (Scottish Review of Books).His latest collection combines this sensitivity to a wide-ranging interest in politics and social change.  StAnza goers, of course, may recall his appearance at the festival in 2009. Will a poet be the overall winner?

There is still time to cast your vote here. The award is sponsored by the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and is run in partnerhsip with Creative Scotland.

The results will be announced at an award ceremony during the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 17 August.

Liz Lochhead Ticket Opportunity

3 Aug


Liz Lochhead In Conversation at StAnza 2007 (photograph by Eugene Theodore)

Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s national poet, is a veteran Fringe performer whose performances always put a smile on the face.  This year she is performing a lunchtime show at the newly reopened Assembly Rooms on George Street.  Making Nothing Happen is a celebration of the word, with a mix of poems, monologues, characters, theatre pieces and guest artists.

 To celebrate, Assembly Rooms Fringe are asking for your tributes to Liz’s work – in 120 characters.  Write a poem based on a theme close to Liz’s heart –it could be Scotland, the relationship between past and present or anything else you like – and tweet it using the hashtag #poemforliz to be in with a chance to win tickets to see the show.  Entries will be judged by the experts at the Scottish Poetry Library and the Assembly Room favourites will be collected together and immortalised on the AR Fringe website.

 Get your entries in by 3pm on Thursday August 9 and you could win tickets to see the Friday performance.

Start the festival season at the Inky Fingers Minifest

1 Aug

MC Harry Giles

Inky Fingers Collective, one of the friendliest and most energetic poetry performance  groups around, have organised another fabulous Minifest to add sunshine to the festival season in Edinburgh. It starts on Monday and runs all next week at various venues in the city. Here’s the lowdown from Inkster Harry Giles (shown left at one of StAnza’s events, as MC) :

‘We’ve got shows, workshops, boozy nights, merry days, street performance, the lot,’ says Harry. ‘It’s going to be fabulous. On our opening night, this coming Monday, you can see Harry Baker, current World Slam Champion, alongside local poets and a very special robot. (An actual robot). Through the week, you can go to workshops on writing, rejection and death itself; see the launches of Octavius magazine and star poet Ross Sutherland’s new book; join in the open mic; see major talents like Viv Gee and Ash Dickinson; and plenty more besides. It’s going to be wonderful.’

Yes, he did say there will be a robot.

The full programme is at, and you can sign up for the workshops by emailing

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