Tag Archives: Andy Jackson

A Double Bill at StAnza this week …

22 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-22 08.54.58Two lots of good news so read on, a chance for you to help StAnza with the click of a mouse – see below – and news of our November event in St Andrews.

It’s going to be a busy week ahead leading up to St Andrews Day. Book Week Scotland starts tomorrow with StAnza’s own event for this, Double Bill on Thursday 26th November at Zest, 95 South Street, St Andrews at 6.30pm. For Book Week 2015 we invited Andy Jackson, editor of the Red Squirrel Press’s Double Bill anthology, the popular sequel to Split Screen, to bring his road show to St Andrews for a StAnza special.

The live Double Bill show which he tours around the UK is a fast-moving sixty-minute mix of poetry, visuals, sounds and ideas from some of the UK’s best-loved poets with poems taking their influences from movies, television, music and popular culture. A stellar cast of over 100 writers contributed poems on a range of themes ranging from Morecambe & Wise and The Italian Job to The Archers and Van Morrison and next week a fine gathering of them, including Ruth Aylett, Tracey Herd, Brian Johnstone, Colin Will, Dawn Wood, Nikki Robson and Sally Evans, will read their own and other poems, while Zest will have some tasty surprises of their own to offer.

It’s a free event but limited by the capacity of Zest, so if you’d like to come, please email stanza@stanzapoetry.org to book a place. There are still a few left. And you can find out about other Book Week Scotland events online at http://scottishbooktrust.com/reading/book-week-scotland/book-week-scotland-2015.

And as if Book Week wasn’t enough, it’s also the St Andrews Food and Drink Festival this month, so our event falls into that as well, and additionally takes place just as a weekend of activities gets under way in the run up to St Andrews Day on Monday 30th November, when we’ll have a double launch, our new website and our core programme for StAnza 2016, 2-6 March. We’re all working flat out at present towards this and look forward to the grand online unveiling then. We’ll be announcing this with a fanfare and another newsletter to let you know once the programme is online, so be sure to check your inbox for that.

Meantime we have exciting news about funding. StAnza has been shortlisted for the Coop Membership Local Fund for the St Andrews/Tayport area. The winner is decided by public vote so if you live in that area, (it works by postcode, you can only vote for us if you live in the St Andrews/Tayport ‘constituency’) do please go online and vote for us. You have to be a Coop member but it’s easy to register online. Here are the links you’ll need. It has been a difficult year for StAnza as we cope with the impact of funding cuts and rising costs, so this is extremely welcome, and a way for our local supporters to help us, so please do if you can. Here are those links:

To vote go to: Vote!

Screenshot 2015-11-22 08.56.23

A StAnza Double Bill for Book Week

1 Nov

red_squirrel_press_-_double_billIt’s good to see the sun shining today to herald in November as this is always a month when good things happen in St Andrews, especially during the last week. First of all, we are celebrating Book Week Scotland from Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th. Starting from today, throughout the month there will also be events around town as part of the fourth St Andrews Food and Drink Festival, and then in the final days of November, the town will celebrate the run up to St Andrews Day on 30th November, when the StAnza programme for 2016 will be launched.

As part of Book Week Scotland, and nicely fitting in with the other events, StAnza will host a Double Bill event with our friends at Zest Coffee Shop on Thursday 26th November. This follows our hugely successful Choc-Lit event in Zest last November.

For Book Week 2015, we’ve invited Andy Jackson, editor of Double Bill, the popular sequel to Split Screen, to bring his road show to St Andrews for a StAnza special.

The live Double Bill show which he tours around the UK is a fast-moving sixty-minute mix of poetry, visuals, sounds and ideas from some of the UK’s best-loved poets, including W. N. Herbert and Tim Turnbull. Double Bill (published in 2014 by Red Squirrel Press) is an anthology of poems taking their influences from movies, television, music and popular culture. A stellar cast of over 100 writers contributed poems on a range of themes ranging from Morecambe & Wise and The Italian Job to The Archers and Van Morrison.

The St Andrews Double Bill will take place at Zest Coffee Shop, 95 South Street, St Andrews, on Thursday 26th November from 6.30pm to 8.00pm featuring a selection of poets who appear in the anthology. It will be a free event but limited by the capacity of the venue, so if you’d like to book a seat, please email stanza@stanzapoetry.org.

An there’s more information on Book Week Scotland at http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/reading/book-week-scotland/book-week-scotland-2015.

Just StAnza in Edinburgh this month

8 Aug
StAnza photo by Jacqueline Skelton

StAnza photograph by Jacqueline Skelton

We’re delighted that the Just Festival asked us to curate three poetry events for them this month in Edinburgh. The three events will be on Tuesdays 11th, 18th and 25th August, all 4pm to 5pm.

Eighteen years ago several Scottish poets got together to create annual StAnza festival, now a major annual international event. This series of three events at the Just Festival turns the spotlight 180° to focus on StAnza itself and some of the poets behind the festival’s success, as well as featuring short tasters of some poetry projects. Full details of each of the events are below. They take place in Edinburgh Fringe Venue 127, St John’s Church Hall, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 4BJ. Tickets are £5 and can be bought online at online here.

Tuesday 11th August, 4pm-5pm:  The current chair of StAnza’s Board of Trustees and himself a well-known and well published Scottish poet Colin Will will read with Jenny Elliott whose poetry pamphlets have been shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in both 2014 and 2015, and Peter Jarvis whose first collection was published by HappenStance Press earlier this year. We’re also delighted that they’ll be joined by several poets who have contributed to StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland who will each read their poem from the map, including Charlotte Stirling, Elspeth Brown, Julie Hogg, Donald Adamson and Alwyn Marriage. This is an ongoing project but you can view the current version of the map at https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/poetry-map-of-scotland/.

Tuesday 18th August, 4pm-5pm: The Co-Founder of StAnza and our first Festival Director, Brian Johnstone heads the list of poets reading at this event, where he’ll be joined by two StAnza colleagues, Julia Prescott and Robin MacKenzie. We’re also delighted that they’ll be joined by several poets who have contributed to StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland who will each read their poem from the map, including Adam V. Cheshire, Colin Bartie, Peter Kerr, Keith Parker and  Elizabeth Rimmer. This is an ongoing project but you can view the current version of the map at https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/poetry-map-of-scotland/.

Tuesday 25th August, 4pm-5pm: Anna Crowe, one of the StAnza founders and now an Honorary President, is an internationally renowned poet and translator. She reads with the prize winning poet Claudia Daventry and Andy Jackson, poet and editor of the successful anthologies of poems about popular culture, Split Screen and Double Bill. And joining them, Carolyn Richardson, Matthew Macdonald, Nancy Somerville, Morgan Downie, Ruth Aylett and Michael Scott, contributors to the Double Bill anthology to read a selection of poems from it.

So if you are in Edinburgh this month, do come along to one of our events, we’ll be delighted to see you.

Reviews of Bill Manhire

27 Jan

Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire

As part of our project to make available reviews of poets taking part at StAnza 2015, we are obliged to DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – for allowing us to re-post this review from their website. Written by staff and students, DURA supports independent cinema & publishing. DURA promotes diversity and supports local and regional arts. See more reviews of poetry and prose on their website at http://dura-dundee.org.uk/ – This review by Andy Jackson is of Bill Manhire’s Selected Poems.

Selected Poems – Bill Manhire
(Carcanet, 2014); pbk; £14.95

Manhire is the pre-eminent voice of New Zealand poetry; that country’s first Laureate, and author of over a dozen collections, stretching back to the earliest part of the 1970s. He found some notoriety in his early career when a short poem, “Wingatui”, whose meaning was partially rooted in the vernacular of the New Zealand horse-racing world, was included in Private Eye magazine’s “Pseuds Corner” column. It was an act of philistinism for which the New Zealand poetry community took some time to forgive the British press, but that incident has served as only a minor footnote to what has become a significant literary career.

Manhire was from the start unafraid of abstraction; “Poem” from his 1972 collection The Elaboration reads,

When we touch,
forests enter our bodies.
The dark wind shakes the branch.
The dark branch shakes the wind.

However, it’s clear that the poet’s voice has become richer, more conversational over time, although many of the conversations are one-sided, as evidenced by his easily-distracted conversation with “Kevin” in the poem of the same name, from his 2005 collection Lifted:

I don’t know where the dead go, Kevin.
The one far place I know
is inside the heavy radio.

Manhire then goes on to speak more to himself than to his subject, recalling his own experiences of radio, while Kevin sleeps on. To a certain extent, the poet’s work is much more introverted and internalised than it first seems – he appears in most of his later poems as “I” and is rarely detached, which hints through the chronologically-arranged sequence at a growing self-concern as he ages. This not-quite-solipsism reaches its zenith in “1950s”, a supercharged list poem detailing the very personal paraphernalia of his childhood;

My cricket bat. My football boots.
My fishing rod. My hula hoop.
My cowboy chaps. My scooter.
Draughts. Happy Families. Euchre.

The most vividly-drawn poems are from his mid-period work, especially 1991’s Milky Way Bar, two of which are pieces of poetic reportage. “Hirohito” examines the de-deification of the wartime Japanese emperor and “Phar Lap” tells the tale of the legendary Depression-era Australian racehorse. In both poems, Manhire considers the geography of the South Pacific and its relationship with other nations along the Pacific Rim through figures of history and popular culture. In “Hirohito” the God-emperor is replaced by the God of capitalism and commerce in the final lines;

I catch sight of him through snow,
a man with glasses
staring out of the screen
of my 14-inch Sanyo.

In “Phar Lap” he pokes at the corpse of the great horse and the mystery of its death in the USA, evoking the conspiracy theories formed in response to perceived jealousy at the horse’s success;

Well, let’s say he died in California,
let’s say he died of absence.

Manhire is distinctively-voiced and largely accessible, more so as he matures into his fifth decade as a writer, with three new poems tackling the eternal theme of ageing and mortality. The selection’s final poem “Old Man Puzzled by His New Pyjamas” could perhaps serve as a simple metaphor for the older person’s hope for the coming afterlife;

I am the baby who sleeps in the drawer.
Blue yesterday, and blue before –
and suddenly all these stripes.

Bill Manhire has much to talk about – often himself, but also the concerns of others – but he says it with a confident lightness of touch and image, and he is never less than engaging. Infusions of melancholy keep his poems afloat in the mind, and the mood is always questioning, probing. His Selected Poems is a good way for the European reader to introduce themselves to a poet often marginalised by geography.

Andy Jackson

You can find further reviews of Bill Manhire online at:

Bill Manhire will be appearing at StAnza 2015 on 7th and 8th March. http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2015/participant.php?participant=716

Mapping Scotland in Poetry

4 Jul
Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. This year at StAnza 2014 we launched our project for the Year of Homecoming Scotland to map Scotland in Poetry. It began with a great fanfare, and unveiled at the event was our specially designed extremely non-digital map to serve our purpose.

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

The launch was an open event so before the festival we invited people to contact us proposing poems which had a specific Scottish location. We had a fine response from a wide range of people offering to read either one of their own poems, or a poem by a friend, or occasionally an older poem out of copyright, so we were spoiled for choice.

On the day, Colin Will and Andy Jackson delivered a wonderful double act hosting the event with wit and charm, Andy taking care of introductions and Colin in charge of the map pins. Surprise contributions included an appearance by Fife’s Provost, Jim Leishman, resplendent in his chains of office, who read one of his own poems set in Glasgow, and two digital contributions Skyped in from a couple of faces familiar to StAnza regulars, at the end of an internet connection in Ross-shire and Assynt.

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Other readers included some of this year’s festival participants, some of the StAnza team, and a host of other poets. Judith Taylor brought the launch to an upbeat conclusion with a poetic tribute to her home town, “Moments in the Great History of Coupar Angus”.

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Others who read include: Nalini Paul, Eveline Pye, Ian Blyth, Peter Jarvis, Angela Topping, Lindsay Macgregor, Lorna Carruth, Diana Lewis, Ellen McAteer, Lyn Moir, Mandy Haggith and Roderick Manson.

And now it’s time to continue the mapping exercise. We invite submissions of poems which have a specific Scottish location, whether named in the poem or not, and we’ll post a selection of these on our Blog and place a pin for each of them on our map. We hope eventually to have a map completely covered in pins from coast to coast, from north to south, east to west, highlands, borders, towns, cities, villages, mountains, lochs and rivers, beaches, firths and islands, rocks and reservoirs. If you’d like to contribute to this project, here are the details.

Please email us a copy of your proposed poem with a note of its location with enough detail on that for us to pin it on the map, and the name of the poet. In your email please confirm either that it is your own poem and you grant us permission to post it on this Blog, or that you have permission from the poet or publisher, or that the poem is out of copyright (copyright lasts until 70 years after the poet’s death, or the date of first publication of the poem, whichever is the later).

And at the end of the project, we’ll publish a full list of the poems submitted and photographs of the full map. At least we hope it will be a full map, but we need your help with that. So please send your poems to info@stanzapoetry.org, preferably pasted into the body of your email, and at this stage, no more than one poem per poet/submission, thanks.

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: http://www.stanzapoetry.org/

In S T E R E O S C O P E

31 Mar

Poem by Karen Doherty inspired by photo by Roman Koblov

One of the installations for StAnza 2012 as part of our theme of The Image and focus on photography was a collaboration with STEREOSCOPE magazine. Created by St Andrews University students, the magazine draws on the photographic history of St Andrews and works with the support of the University’s special collections. For this installation, poets were invited to respond to specific of the images in the magazine and the following poems produced during the project were projected along with the images. The two photographs which prompted most of the poems submitted were by Jeremy Waterfield and Roman Koblov. Here are the poems.


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