Tag Archives: Anna Crowe

A message from Aldeburgh …

3 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-03 13.02.41

While we’ll be revealing the programme for our next StAnza festival later this month, our sister festival in Aldeburgh starts later this week.  We’re delighted to be sharing this message from their new Festival Director, Ellen McAteer, for whom this will be her first festival in post.


I left Scotland to take over the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival just after a revolution. At least that’s how it felt to be there during the referendum, whatever the result and whatever you voted for. People were speaking up for what they believed in. They were exercising their right to freedom.

At last year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, Kathleen Jamie broke the silence on what had happened in Scotland the month before by reading a series of poems on what the year leading up to the referendum had meant for her. She left the crowd cheering by pointing out that those in England had the same freedom to express their concerns to Westminster: ‘that was just a bunch of sweaty overexcited jocks,’ she joked, ‘imagine what you can do!’

A year later and the 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is upon us, with a theme of Poetry and Freedom. There will be a good representative number of Scots born, raised and by adoption there – John Burnside, Kei Miller, Gerry Loose, Morven Gregor, Christie Williamson, Anna Crowe, Hazel Frew, JL Williams – and course Jim Carruth is shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize – the first Scottish poet published by a Scottish publisher to be so, as far as I know! But there will also be voices for freedom from across the UK and around the globe: Mexican poet Pedro Serrano, Kurdish poet Choman Hardi, Jane Duran from Cuba via Canada, Kim Addonizio and Tony Hoagland from the US, and Valerie Rouzeau from France, as well as YouTube sensation and speaker on freedoms from immigration to breast feeding Hollie McNish, and speaker in various tongues Zaffar Kunial. Joanne Limburg will be turning children and adults Bookside Down, Dorothea Smarrt will be telling tales of ‘queer goings on’, Jack Rooke will be putting the ‘good’ back into ‘grief’ and Jeremy Reed will be keeping it rock and roll.

This has been a year of terrifying freedom and change at the Poetry Trust, and the outcome of the consequent revolution is still to be decided. Come and join the conversation. Vote with your feet. There will be debates, discussions and an open mic – we are all about freedom of speech this year. From across the (un-)United Kingdom and further borders drawn and re-drawn, a gathering of poets will come to the Suffolk Coast on November 6th-8th to demonstrate that poetry IS freedom, in its purest expression.

Ellen McAteer

Aldeburgh Festival Director


More information available online at https://tickets.aldeburgh.co.uk/Online/2015_poetry_festival


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.

StAnza appoints two Honorary Presidents

26 Apr

At our 2015 AGM which took place on Saturday 25th April, it was announced that StAnza has decided to bestow the honorary title of Honorary President on two of StAnza’s founders, Anna Crowe and Brian Johnstone in recognition of all they have done for StAnza over the past eighteen years and their many and varied contributions over the years. The announcement was warmly welcomed by the StAnza membership as a very well-deserved and timely tribute.

Anna Crowe, reading the English versions of poems by Kim Simonsen at StAnza 2015: photo by Helena Fornells

Anna Crowe, reading the English versions of poems by Kim Simonsen at StAnza 2015: photo by Helena Fornells

Anna Crowe is a poet and translator of Catalan and Mexican poetry, as well as co-founder and former Artistic Director of StAnza. Her Mariscat collection, Figure in a Landscape, won the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. Her latest book of translations, Peatlands (Arc, 2014), features the work of the Mexican poet Pedro Serrano. In 2005 the Society of Authors awarded her a Travelling Scholarship. Her poetry has been translated into Catalan, Spanish, Italian and German.

Brian Johnstone introducing event at StAnza 2014: photo by Jacqueline Skelton

Brian Johnstone introducing event at StAnza 2014: photo by Jacqueline Skelton

Brian Johnstone is a Scottish poet, writer and performer. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014). In 2015 his work appeared on the UK’s Poetry Archive website. His poems have been translated into over a dozen languages; in 2009 Terra Incognita, a chapbook in Italian translation, was published by L’Officina (Vicenza). A founder and former Director of StAnza, he has appeared at various poetry festivals, from Macedonia to Nicaragua, and at numerous venues across the UK.




Coming up soon in St Andrews

23 Mar
Paul Muldoon at StAnza 2014, photograph by Helena Fornells

Paul Muldoon at StAnza 2014, photograph by Helena Fornells


If you’re gloomy at the thought of waiting a whole year before StAnza comes round again, here’s some cheering news about poetry events coming up over the next few months.

Toppings bookshop in Greyfriars Gardens are planning a series of monthly poetry events on the first Tuesday of the month. This is what they say about them:

“Taking place on the first Tuesday of each month, Topping Tuesdays will be relaxed evenings of poetry readings and conversation, offering the chance to explore and discuss the work of some of the best poets on the contemporary scene. Our host is Don Paterson of the University of St Andrews, one of the most dynamic and critically acclaimed British poets writing today, a winner of the Forward, Whitbread and T S Eliot Prizes. We are delighted that he’ll be bringing his warmth and expertise to a regular showcase of poets – an array to satisfy the most varied of tastes! £5 or £3 Scholar.”

The first of these Topping Tuesday events takes place on Tuesday 7th April at 8pm when Annie Freud, who made a big impression at StAnza some years back, joins Don Paterson, reading from her own work and discussing her poetic craft.

Then on Tuesday 21st April at 5.15 in the Lawson Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English, The Scores, the acclaimed Mexican poet Pedro Serrano will give a talk in St Andrews on TS Eliot and Octavio Paz, drawn from his study The Making of the Modern Poet, followed by a short reading from his own work, with English translations by Anna Crowe.

He will also give a reading in Edinburgh the following day, April 22, at 6.30 pm, at the Word Power bookshop, 43 – 45 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DB. This will be in Spanish and English, and based on the poet’s book, Peatlands (Arc Publications 2014), a bilingual edition with translations by Scottish poet Anna Crowe.

Both events are free. For more information on the Word Power reading, call Word Power Books on 0131 662 9112 and there’s more about the St Andrews event at https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/…/newsandeve…/thenglishseminar/

Following that comes the next event at Toppings on Tuesday 5th May when Jacob Polley will take part with screenwriter and actor Jonathan Durie.

The Toppings programme continues with Paul Muldoon on Tuesday 19th May; Michael Pedersen & Lorraine Mariner on 2nd June; and on 4th August An Introduction to HappenStance Press and J. O. Morgan.

You can get more information on the events at Toppings on their website at http://www.toppingbooks.co.uk or by telephoning 01334 585111 or emailing standrews@toppingbooks.co.uk.

Poetry Map Poem 49: Tentsmuir Flora

17 Sep

A Tentsmuir Flora

“Existing floras exhibit only one moment in the history of the earth’s vegetation.”
Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer: ‘Plant Distribution’, Encyclopaedia Britannica

A moment that you might fathom, you’d think,
reciting names like adderstongue and moonwort,
coralroot and yellow birdsnest,
listed in Tentsmuir’s resonant flora.
But then an owl at Morton Lochs disgorges
a pellet packed with fieldmouse fur
and tiny bones from a neighbouring parish,
and seeds that will grow into another moment.

And there are days when haar drifts in from the sea
and settles like drops of mercury on rhubarb leaves,
when you step out into the garden,
into the moment before; digging, you unearth
bits of clay pipe, the bowl inscribed with
Masonic symbols: a pair of compasses
like a Pictish V-rod; in shifting light
your fossil-heap a shellfish-midden.

Moments washed by Forth and Tay; Fife
a mesopotamia of silts and erosions;
a kingdom stretched between its firths
like a hide from the scriptorium at Balmyrnie,
barley-fields the colour of vellum.
Earth you may as well be fathomed in, you think,
instinctively at home, peninsular,
putting down roots almost by accident.

You heard a story about a plant that sprang up
when a ship from Tierra del Fuego sank
at the mouth of the Tay; how Patagonian fleeces
hung for weeks on Tentsmuir’s barbed-wire.
Wind was combing the wool with weavers’ fingers,
as you remembered the Huguenots who fled
here in an earlier wave; loosened seeds
of Norwegian Lamb’s Lettuce taking root.

Anna Crowe (from Punk with Dulcimer, Peterloo Poets 2007)

To view our Map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map of Scotland and on the StAnza Blog are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet’s permission.

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 boxoffice@hubtickets.co.uk, 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 www.summerhall.co.uk   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.

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