Tag Archives: Colin Will

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

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.

Top picks and pix post-festival

22 Mar
StAnza 2015 launch, photo by www.alistairkerr.com

StAnza 2015 launch, photo by http://www.alistairkerr.com


“SAnza for me always helps usher winter into the dark, and marks a door opening into the bigger light of spring.”

With so many wonderful things already said or written about StAnza 2015 it’s hard to pick favourites but this quote from Gerry Cambridge’s Facebook post has to be amongst them.

Two weeks on and with the sun still shining and spring well and truly sprung, here at StAnza HQ we are still recovering from the wonderful buzz of the festival, so we have our feet up and a cup of tea in one hand as with the other we browse through the reviews and photographs which are piling up. A full Afterword with galleries of photographs and links will follow in due course – including, fingers crossed, the text from Glyn Maxwell’s sell-out lecture – but meantime we thought you might enjoy a sample of photographs plus links to various articles, reviews and blog posts already brought to our attention. If you know of more, do let us know. If you were at this StAnza this year we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and thanks for coming to be part of it. If you didn’t make it this year, here’s just a glimpse of what you missed. And there’s always next year. Meantime, before the links, here’s another quote, this time from Kei Miller:

What an incredible festival StAnza continues to be! An overwhelming experience all around, the readings, the friendships, the wine – but the moment that I think will stay with me, the moment when for some inexplicable reason I choked up and had to look away, was the moment when the Catalan poet Josep Lluís Aguiló talked about the ‘small’ language he wrote in: ‘I have no choice in the matter’ he said, and then turning to his translator continued with such astounding vulnerability, perhaps unintentional but so to the point of it all…. ‘I am in your hands.’

And so to the links. First of all, here’s a brilliant video collage of images from the opening night, from photographer Alistair Kerr.

StAnza 2015 opening night video by Alistair Kerr

The inspiring StAnza poetry festival: The Scotsman review by Susan Mansfield

Risk A Verse, photo by Helena Fornells

Risk A Verse, photo by Helena Fornells

Review of StAnza 2015: Scotsman review by Susan Mansfield

Why we need more poetry events like StAnza, by Charlotte Runcie in The List

Kei Miller comes home, by Charlotte Runcie in The List

StAnza 2015 – Simon Armitage, one of Britain’s best, by Charlotte Runcie in The List

StAnza 2015 – Helen Mort, by Charlotte Runcie in The List

StAnza 2015: Mothers Day – why we need more great writing about being a mother, by Charlotte Runcie, The List

At the festival hub, by Alice Roberts

At the festival hub, by Alice Roberts

The Ferocity of Festivals by Helena Nelson

StAnza Poetry Cafe with Owen O’Neill, by Paul Thompson, The Mumble

StAnza Poetry Cafe with Erin Fornoff, by Paul Thompson, The Mumble

StAnza Body Searches, by Paul Thompson, The Mumble

Stepping it out at the festival finale, photo by Terry Lee

Stepping it out at the festival finale, photo by Terry Lee

StAnza Border Crossing, by Paul Thompson, The Mumble

StAnza Poetry Cafe with Torok & Campion, by Paul Thompson, The Mumble

StAnza 2015, by Elizabeth Rimmer, Burned Thumb

StAnza 2015, by Colin Will, Sunny Dunny

StAnza 2015 erasure, the FCA&C blog

StAnza 2015, by Sarah Hymas







Poetry Map Poem 21: Dunbar

5 Aug

Dunbar High Street

It’s the spine of the old place.
Before there were streets
all lived in the wynds, entries,
vennels, closes, alleys, courts,
essential passages either side.

Market stalls displayed goods and produce,
fish new-landed off the wee boats,
meat there for those who could afford it.
The beasts met their end in Slaughterhouse Close,
the blood gutter a vein to the sea
and the butcher’s good thumb on the scales.
In Gardener’s Close potatoes, fresh
from clamps, jostled bundles of kale
and dirty carrots, a base for broth.

Beer was brewed by alewives, served up
in parlours, then pipe-kippered ale-houses.
Inns and pubs imposed a modicum of dignity
with each new century’s whims and morals.

The Market Cross was for proclamations.
The Minister declared a fatwa
on the dominie’s wife, for the spreading
of malicious gossip. The King’s Messenger
announced new laws, and lawyers
scurried off to polish writs.
The Provost, in chains and robes, read the names
of drunks and felons fettered
in the dank jail, and firebrand preachers
summoned the wrath of God each week.

A wide, straight thoroughfare
for the regiment to march and counter-march.
Cavalry pranced, and horse artillery
towed gleaming guns destined
for the poppied mud of France.

Off Empire Close the cinema sat,
the heavy petting back row
where the young usherette’s torch
reddened with embarrassment,
as the fake action flickered in grayscale
on the grainy screen.

A tourist boom whimpered out
in my lifetime, shops have come and gone.
The footfall is smaller, as they say,
the offer less attractive; a row
with gaps and pop-ups, but still
where else to meet six random friends
on a wet Tuesday morning? Where else?

Colin Will

Dunbar High Street was published in Wild Words, by Dunbar Writers (Calder Wood Press, June 2014).

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.

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.

The view from the chair

16 Feb

Colin WillColin Will is a Scottish poet and publisher based in Dunbar, from where he runs Calder Wood Press. He was Chair of the StAnza Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2009, was reappointed as a trustee in 2013 then as Chair in February 2014. The most recent collection of his own poetry is ‘The Propriety of Weeding’ (Red Squirrel Press, 2012).

StAnza is a team effort. We are very fortunate to have Eleanor Livingstone as our Director, and she does an enormous amount of work to create and sustain each Festival, and to plan future ones. Those who attend the Festival regularly, as I have, will know that StAnza is also supported by a large group of volunteers who give their time and skills generously to be the public face of the Festival – on the ticket desk, at the venues and at other places in the town. They are the ones whose smiles welcome visitors, and who make the Festival such a warm and friendly one. You may also have seen the volunteers who staff the venues, and who bring visiting poets to and from venues. We could not put on the Festival without these resourceful and positive people.

Behind the scenes too there’s a large group of dedicated people who look after technical issues, finances, transport, accommodation, catering, ticketing, venues, publicity, communication and many other essential services. There are people who help with future programme planning, and others who have an overview of the governance and management of the organisation.

That’s where I come in. I first joined the Board of Trustees of StAnza back in 2004, having previously chaired the Scottish Poetry Library’s Board, and having been a senior manager in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. I was asked to chair the Board in 2006, and I served a three-year term, stepping down in 2009. Last year my successor, Angela Wrapson, had to step down for personal reasons, and I was asked to come back on the Board. As from February’s AGM, I now chair it again.

I’m looking forward to another term in office, and I hope to ensure that we are, as we have always been, strong and resilient in the face of change. Who could have foreseen last year’s closure of the Byre Theatre, for example? Director, Board and volunteers stepped up to the challenge magnificently, and last year’s Festival was delivered very successfully. It’s hard to predict what challenges we might have to face in future, but I’m confident we will rise to these challenges and overcome any difficulties that may occur in future.

And now I’m looking forward to this year’s Festival in keen anticipation. I’ve booked my accommodation and bought my tickets, thanks to our new ticketing partners, and I know I’m going to enjoy an enriching experience at the Festival. Some of poets are friends, others I haven’t met yet, but we’re alike in our love for, and commitment to, poetry. Come and join me.

Colin Will blogs as http://sunnydunny.wordpress.com/

Our seventh sense is of place: Colin Will on Zen and the poetry of gardening

3 Mar

CW_2010_200Poet and publisher Colin Will has been actively involved in developing Scotland’s poetry organisations, including StAnza, whose Board he used to chair. Based in Dunbar, he runs Calder Wood Press. His poetry reflects his training as a scientist and his wide-ranging travels. But it is the homing instinct which starts this blog, on the theme of Legacy & Place.

I write on lots of subjects, but reflections on places feature very strongly. I have a good visual memory, and it’s relatively easy for me to form pictures in my mind of the places I’ve been, and the things I experienced or imagined in these places. In the preface to my second collection, Seven Senses (diehard, 2000), I said this:

To the accepted senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing we often add a sixth sense of intuition, of knowing without knowing why. There is a seventh sense known to the salmon, to the wild geese, and other migrating and homing creatures. Our lives too are shaped by the places in which we are born and pass our formative years. More than that, these places affect the way we view the world, the surroundings we enjoy, and the things we take comfort in. This seventh sense – a sense of place – carries with it an unstated and unconscious network of associations and feelings. We all sense our landscapes in different ways, navigating by unrecognised beacons. Walking by the sea, or on the Cuillin ridge, will be different experiences for those from East Anglia or Easter Ross.

At a previous StAnza – I forget which year – I had the privilege of introducing Kenneth White’s reading. During the interval, offstage, we had a rare old natter on geopoetics, and I was delighted to find that in many respects we are kindred spirits. His geopoetics and my sense of place are very similar concepts.

Simply put, place is where you are at a moment in time. The meanings and values you assign to that place depend on many things: your personality, your interests, your knowledge and experience of the world. I know, for example, that in some places I am comfortable, in others I feel uneasy. I’m in my own skin when I’m in the hills, in a country landscape, or by the sea. Cities, especially crowded cities, increase my feelings of anxiety. It’s not claustrophobia, it’s just a sense of not belonging, despite being born in Edinburgh’s city centre, and spending my first fifteen years there. And yet I have happy memories of cities like Barcelona, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Beijing, San Francisco and Tokyo.

I’ve long had an interest in geology, and when I studied the subject at the Open University in the 1970s, it gave me a whole new insight into landscapes. Before that I had an eye for the beauty of a mountain scene, and after it I had an understanding of the forces and events that had shaped that scene over millions of years. And knowing how these places came to be served only to increase my sense of joy in their beauty.

Zen Garden

Ginkaku-ji garden, Kyoto, Japan

Place and time feature naturally in the Japanese literary aesthetic, and that’s another element of my poetry. The Zen feeling of place, and capturing the Zen moment, are essential to the writing of haiku and other Japanese forms. The Japanese garden is an exercise in representing the essence of natural landscape in a formal space. And gardens are among my favourite places, a thread which runs through my most recent collection, The propriety of weeding (Red Squirrel, 2012).

Website: www.colinwill.co.uk

Blog: http://sunnydunny.wordpress.com

Photo  by Colin Will

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