Tag Archives: Deryn Rees-Jones

Unmapped; Welsh poetry: Stephanie Green

13 Mar
Anna King, Rebecca Sharp

Anna King and Rebecca Sharp

For my last blog at StAnza, meditating on poetry inspired by landscape/art or vice versa, I went along to the exhibition, ‘Unmapped’ , also about the marginal.  A beautiful collaboration of paintings by Anna King and poems by Rebecca Sharp, it is also available in book form.  Paintings and poems are a conversation about places rarely noticed, the derelict,  the leaking boundaries between past and present, absence and longing.  ‘I love to explore empty feral places’ says Anna King, ‘where nature is slowly and relentlessly taking the land back.’

I loved how painter and poet echo each other:  brush or maybe palette knife strokes are clearly visible in almost half-finished paintings, where the background shows through, just as in  the poems the past haunts the present.   Rebecca’s vocabulary echoes the painter’s  techniques: ‘gouging’,  ‘scratched’, ‘seeping through’ and ‘Ink from a stairwell/bleeds into a boy’.

This is poetry as psychogeography, strangely evocative when they hint at so much absence: ‘We were always somewhere else,/waiting to appear.’    Anna Crowe calls these ‘restless, shifting poems’  and you can read the full review and see more poems and pictures through the project website

http://unmapped-project.co.uk/, and press Book for pictures, and Work for poems.


Welsh poetry, past and present

It was sound career sense of Dylan (pron. Dullan, so you can show off you know this) Thomas to die a bohemian death in New York, said Robert Minhinnick  at his Past & Present talk.  It would not have had the same myth-making impact if he’d died in Swansea Hospital after a bender in a local pub.  Recent research indicates that Dylan did not die so much of drink, as of a diabetic attack.

It is Dylan’s centenary next year so ‘Be afraid. Be very afraid’ warned Minhinnick. Personally, I can’t wait.

Lynette Roberts is not so well-known, of course. Born in Argentina, but moving to Wales on marriage, she was writing in the 30’s and 40’s and admired by T.S. Eliot as a fellow modernist. Sadly Roberts suffered from schizophrenia and wrote no more after the 50’s – perhaps explaining the diminishing of her reputation.  Like Roberts, Zoë Skoulding‘s own poetry explores language as  ‘soundings’, or  ‘noise’ so her talk revealed her own interests too.


Zoë Skoulding/photo Stephanie Green

Deryn Rees-Jones, short-listed for the T.S. Eliot prize in 2012, gave a reading of her tour de force ‘Dog Woman’ a sequence inspired by Paula Rego’s paintings which were a highlight of the festival

Other highlights were Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch’s Antarctic poems and Eurig Salisbury, Welsh Children’s Laureate. ‘I like eggs for breakfast, especially omelettes,’ he said.  He tells this to the kids he visits at school  – it’s important they eat well (as well as enjoy poems).

These readings were a great note to end the festival on.  Diolch yn fawr for having me.

Tipyn Bach of Welsh:

Hwyl Fawr (pron Hoo-ill vow-r)  Goodbye.  (Lit . Have great fun.)  There is no Goodbye in Welsh – appropriate because we hope we’ll meet again at StAnza 2014.


‘What I’m looking forward to at StAnza’: Stephanie Green

6 Mar

In the first of her Festival Blogs for StAnza, poet Stephanie Green gives us us her personal preview of the StAnza line-up. She will be reporting back on her experiences over the next five days, so keep following! 

603458_10151171877642165_1834394057_n Stephanie Green croppedFirst of all it will be fascinating to see what the atmosphere will be like without the Byre.  The Keep Calm and Carry on spirit that Eleanor Livingstone and her team have displayed organizing new venues, the rallying around of St Andrew’s,  town and University  have been magnificent: a sort of crisis camaraderie will prevail, I’m sure – with the Town Hall Supper Room as the new social and foodie Hub.  In years to come, there will be reminiscing – ‘You had to be there.’  I for one, intend to be there at as much as one can humanly take. And there’s a lot on.  More than ever it seems.

This year not one, but two all day workshops at the Georgian Balmungo House in its beautiful setting – I hope the daffodils are out. Douglas Dunn and Sean Borodale as the tutors. And there’s plenty of other poetry workshops – you could do almost one a day.

All the headliners go without saying, but having lived in Wales for 13 years, I’m a bit biased, so my favourites will be the Welsh poets who will be there en masse this year.  For the faint-hearted, their poetry is in English, but you might catch a bit of Welsh sprinkled here and there, not least in the cadences of Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales a total MUST paired with Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead.  What a stupendous billing.

There’s also a slew of other Cymry:  Robert Minhinnick, former editor of Poetry Wales and co-founder of Friends of the Earth (Cymru), so there’s bound to be some politically and environmentally charged poems, Zoë Skoulding, the present editor, an academic whose poetry is complex and multi-layered, and she’ll also be talking about an overlooked but recently rediscovered Welsh poet, Lynette Roberts. I’ll be checking out,  young and talented, Eurig Salisbury, the Welsh Children’s Laureate. Eurig and Ifor ap Glyn will be  participants at the Translation workshop (so you might hear a bit more Welsh there). Deryn Rees-Jones whose highly original and deeply moving latest collection was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot prize last year will be a Must and last but not least, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch whose extraordinarily lyrical poetry takes us in her latest volume to the Antarctic.

More bias:  two of my mates will be Must See: Jean Atkin, whose poetry has been produced  in evocative artist’s books by Hugh Bryden of Roncadora Press.  See


And Patricia Ace who launches her first collection.  With a West Indian/Welsh ancestry, she is noted for her moving poems, full of warmth and humanity, often writing about her teenage daughters (and they still speak to her.)

And if you want to spice up your lunch-hour, I recommend the Edinburgh performance stars, Harry Giles, and Rachel McCrum. I’ve seen them both perform with high octane pizzazz– Harry at Inky Fingers, and Rachel at Rally and Broad, a literary cabaret plus other delights such as flame-throwing acrobats. I kid you not.  There won’t be flames at StAnza but I can promise you flair.

Return of the StAnza Pre-Festival Book Group.

6 Feb

Mark Doty, photograph by Starr Black

Good news for poetry lovers living in and around St Andrews.  In association with the University of St Andrews’ Open Association, StAnza is offering free places at its pre-festival Poetry Book Group sessions.  These were introduced for the first time last year in the run up to StAnza 2012 and were hugely popular, so we’re delighted that they are returning again this year, giving people the chance to read and talk about poets who will feature at StAnza 2013, including Mark Doty, Andrew Greig and Deryn Rees-Jones.

There will be three sessions this year, the first taking place today, Wednesday 6th February, and two further sessions will take place on Wednesdays 13th and 20th February.

Christian Livermore from the University’s School of English will lead the three early evening sessions from 5.30pm-7.30pm on Wednesdays in the Conference Room at St Katherine’s West at 16 The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AX. To book a free place contact Debbie Wilbraham on 01333 462275 or open.association@st-andrews, or just turn up at one or more of the sessions.

More information can be found online here.

StAnza to welcome Welsh poets in March

10 Dec

Clarke, GillianStAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival will play host to seven Welsh poets in 2013, including Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales (left).  In what will be one of the stand-out events during the festival, she will read with Liz Lochhead, the Scots Makar, at StAnza’s hub venue, the Byre Theatre. She will also deliver the StAnza Lecture, taking as her theme the Welsh origins and influences of early poetry.

The Welsh Focus will celebrate the talents of established and younger Welsh poets, three of whom have been shortlisted for this year’s T.S. Eliot Prize. Along with Gillian Clarke, StAnza will be welcoming Ifor Ap Glyn, Robert Minhinnick, Deryn Rees-Jones, Eurig Salisbury, Zoë Skoulding  and Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

They will be featuring in a rich variety of readings, collaborations and talks.  Ifor Ap Glyn will be taking part in a showcase of European poets who have been brought together to translate each other’s work. And the legacy of Welsh poets from the past continues to be celebrated in Zoë Skoulding’s talk about the neglected Modernist Lynette Roberts and Robert Minhinnick’s on the legacy of Dylan Thomas.

StAnza’s programme is now online here. Tickets will be on sale from January.

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