Tag Archives: Brian Turner

June is bursting out ….

4 Jun

Tanya Shirley

Tanya Shirley

While June is now here, March is still a fond memory. We are sorting through all the photographs and reviews of this year’s festival and a selection of these will appear in an Afterword page on our website soon, together with this year’s lecture by David Constantine. But meantime if you’d like to recapture the flavour of StAnza 2014, three podcasts are now available on our website at http://www.stanzapoetry.org/podcast/ all recorded by our good friend Jennifer Williams from the Scottish Poetry Library, and featuring Tanya Shirley, Brian Turner and US poet Ilyse Kusnetz, recent winner of the US T.S. Eliot Prize, who was in St Andrews for the festival.

Elsewhere, it’s good to see that the Byre Theatre has a busy programme for this month. Full details on their website at http://www.byretheatre.com, but here is a quick summary:

Friday 6th & Saturday 7th: Byre Youth Theatre: Haud yer Wheesht at 7pm. This is a piece that has been devised by the Youth Theatre and includes all members from the nursery group through to the young adults.

Tuesday 10th at 7pm, StAnza’s own Brian Johnstone launches his latest collection, Dry Stone Work. People planning to attend this should rsvp Brian on brian@brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk.

Friday 13th; Flat Caps: Live music by local performers.

Sunday 15th to Tuesday 17th: St Andrews Opera presents Benjamin Britten¹s sparkling comedy, Albert Herring.

Saturday 21st: Elaine C Smith at 7.30pm, Still Standing…..Just

Still in Fife, but over in Freuchie for the next Fife Writes event, Helena Nelson of HappenStance Press will be giving a reading at the Lomond Hills Hotel at 7.30pm on Thursday 26th June with StAnza’s Eleanor Livingstone and Lindsay Macgregor, co-host of Ladybank’s Platform Poetry. It’s a free email but space is limited so if you plan to attend, you should email george@george-sinclair.com.

Moving a bit further away still, Brian Johnstone will have a second launch event in Edinburgh at 7pm on Monday 9th June at St Columba’s by the Castle Church Hall, 14 Johnston Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2PW.

Later in the month Germaine Greer is coming to Edinburgh on 21st June to mark unveiling of paving stone in Makars Court for Elizabeth Melville, Scotland’s first woman poet in print, as part of a day of events about Scottish women writers. Following the unveiling, which is a free public event, there will be a lunch reception followed by an afternoon session with James Robertson and Meg Bateman, and the day will conclude with a concert in St Giles. Full details are online at http://www.historyfest.co.uk/pages/elizabeth-melville-day.

So whether the sun shines or not, June has plenty to offer.


The SPL at StAnza 2014

21 Feb

JL WilliamsEach year StAnza collaborates in ways big and small with the Scottish Poetry Library, this year with the appearance at StAnza of Tanya Shirley. Jennifer Williams, the SPL Programme Manager, shares her thoughts about StAnza 2014.

I so enjoyed the StAnza Preview at tell it slant Poetry Bookshop in Glasgow on 6 February. (http://tellitslantbooks.com/2014/01/21/stanza-glasgow-2014-preview-mirrorball-seamus-heaney-event/)

What a pleasure to find myself at a delightful poetry bookshop, packed with people (standing room only by the time I got there) eating beautiful food from the café, drinking wine and chatting up a word storm, surrounded by shelves of poetry books and magazines. tell it slant is ‘popped-down’ for the moment but hopefully soon to return as a permanent fixture in Glasgow.

I love StAnza previews because they always seem to have the buzz about them that makes StAnza so delicious – full of poets and poetry lovers, everyone in a jolly frame of mind and talking about what they’re looking forward to and what they’re loving in the poetry world. This event was just as fabulous, with readings from SBT New Writers Award winner Kathrine Sowerby, poet Alexander Hutchison on WWI poet David Jones and Colin McGuire wringing peals of laughter from the delighted crowd.

Less than 30 minutes in total, it was a tantalising taster of what’s to come, and boy is the menu packed for the three days I’ll be in St Andrew’s in early March.

I’ll be doing podcast interviews with StAnza readers Sujata Bhatt and Brian Turner, catching as many events as I can fit in and catching up with as many folks as I can. The SPL will have a table brimming with Poetry Readers and poetry postcards for everyone to pick up and enjoy, and if it’s not quite as snowy as last year I might even make it down to the beach for an invigorating walk (though perhaps not a dip!). I can’t wait to hear our Commonwealth United Poets visitor Tanya Shirley in action (http://commonwealthpoetsunited.com/2014/01/30/commonwealth-poets-united/) and Ron Silliman, John Burnside, Tishani Doshi, Rob A Mackenzie, Richie McCaffery, the wonderful Tomica Bajsić who I met at the 2013 Berlin Poesiefestival… the list goes on.

When I first came to Scotland years ago I ventured to StAnza on my own, knowing no one in St Andrew’s and hardly anyone in Scotland; just for one day, just to see one poet – David Constantine. I was so awed by the reading he gave that I came home and wrote him an admiring letter, to which, to my surprise, he generously responded. I treasure that letter, his poems and his stories and it feels like a fabulous circle has swung round to connect itself, with me heading to StAnza this year to see David Constantine again – but with a few more friendly faces to say hello to this time. Hope to see you there and do come and tell me all about what it is you’re reading, writing and loving this year.

Jennifer Williams, Programme Manager
Scottish Poetry Library, February 2014

You can follow the SPL blog at http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/blog

Tickets now on sale for StAnza 2014

17 Jan

banner 14 Tickets are now on sale for StAnza 2014, in person, by phone and online. Full box office details are online at our, or telephone VisitScotland on 01334 474609. The printed brochure will be available from late January and you can request a brochure by emailing brochure@stanzapoetry.org or phoning 01334 474610, if you’re not already on our mailing list.

The festival, which takes place in St Andrews, lasts for five days from 5th to 9th March 2014 and features almost 100 events, many of them free – a diverse range of performances, readings, music, drama, talks, workshops and a masterclass, open mic events, films, exhibitions and installations. This is the place to hear your favourite poet, discover new voices, meet other poets, writers and publishers and enjoy the energetic buzz of the beautiful and historic town of St Andrews. More than 65 poets from a dozen countries worldwide will take part along with a wide range of visual artists, musicians and film-makers. Once again the festival’s lively and friendly hub will be in the Byre Theatre, which has two theatre spaces, a café/bistro and gallery areas, but events will also take place in venues in and around the town centre of St Andrews.

Headline poets include Carol Ann Duffy, Paul Muldoon, John Burnside, Menna Elfyn, Tishani Doshi, Sujata Bhatt, Ron Silliman and, as Poet in Residence for 2014, Brian Turner. For Scotland’s year of Homecoming in 2014, an in anticipation of the Commonwealth Games hosted by Glasgow this year, the first theme is A Common Wealth of Poetry. The second theme Words Under Fire responds to the legacy of the poetry of the First World War.

David Constantine will give this year’s lecture on the Great War in poetry at Home and abroad, our Past & Present series of talks will include past war poets David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Vera Brittain and George Campbell Hay. There will also be a presentation on poetry and propaganda featuring JOOT Theatre Company, and exhibitions include Stephen Raw’s response to the poetry of Wilfred Owen, War is for this the clay grew tall.

The festival gets off to a spectacular start on the opening night with Rime a retelling through acrobatics and modern dance of the Coleridge classic, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Before the acrobatics start, the celebrated novelist, Louis de Bernières, will launch this 17th annual festival. In 2004 he came to St Andrews to talk about his love of poetry, and now a decade later he returns with his own debut collection of poetry.

For creative inspiration, sign up for one of six workshops this year which tickets last, our Masterclass with Paul Muldoon, or an individual session with Poetry Coach in Residence, Philippa Johnston. From Poetry Café breakfast panel discussions to evening open mics and the famous StAnza Slam, this year hosted by Rally & Broad, there’s something for all tastes, including lots of interactive events.

Carol Ann Duffy (photo copyright  Michael J Woods 2010)

Carol Ann Duffy (photo copyright Michael J Woods 2010)

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