Tag Archives: Irish poetry

StAnza 2014 Headliners Announced

3 Oct

Paul Muldoon compressed (1) Multi-award winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon is to make his first ever appearance at StAnza as part of an exciting line up of world class poets confirmed today.

Our festival next year, which forms part of the Homecoming Scotland 2014 celebrations, takes place from 5th to 9th March 2014 and will feature poets from across the commonwealth.  These include a welcome return of the UK’s first Scottish-born and first female poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, Indian poet and dancer, Forward Prize winner Tishani Doshi and St Andrews’ own John Burnside, one of only two poets to have won both the T S Eliot prize and the Forward poetry prize for the same book.

Among Paul Muldoon’s accolades are the TS Eliot prize, the Pulitzer prize, the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and the Aspen prize.  He is poetry editor of the New Yorker magazine, and was described by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘the most significant English-language poet born since the second world war.’

Our themes for StAnza 2014 will be ‘A Common Wealth of Poetry’, celebrating poetry from across the Commonwealth in Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, and ‘Words Under Fire’, which looks at the poetic legacy of war in the centenary year of WW1.

Announcing the headlining poets, our Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone said:

“I am delighted to be able to confirm such an impressive line up of headlining poets for 2014. StAnza continues to attract some of the world’s leading poets who perform alongside emerging talent and those new to the poetry scene, giving the festival its dynamic and unique atmosphere.  We look forward to confirming more exciting performers and events over the coming months and to unveiling our full programme in late November.”

Caroline Packman, Homecoming Scotland 2014 Director said:  “In 2014, the year that Scotland welcomes the world, it is fitting that we support StAnza as it ties in perfectly with the Homecoming theme of celebrating creativity as well as our rich history and culture.  The charming town of St Andrews always provides a stunning backdrop for this vibrant and popular poetry festival, and I hope the exciting line-up announced today will encourage even more people to experience the festival next year.”

For a full list of headlining poets announced today, go to our website at www.stanzapoetry.org.

Carol Ann Duffy was appointed Britain’s poet laureate in May 2009.  She is the first woman, first Scot, and first openly LGBT person to hold the position.  She is currently professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize.

Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.  He has worked as a radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and is currently poetry editor of the New Yorker.  Since 1987 he has lived in the United States and is now Professor at Princeton University.

He has published several poetry collections and has been awarded the T S Eliot Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin Prize, amongst others.

John Burnside was born in Fife and is one only two poets to have won both the T.S. Eliot prize and the Forward Poetry Prize for the same book (Black Cat Bone).  He is Professor in Creative Writing at St Andrews University.

His first collection of poetry, The Hoop, was published in 1988 and won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award. Other poetry collections include Common Knowledge(1991), Feast Days (1992), winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and The Asylum Dance (2000), winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) and the T. S. Eliot Prize. The Light Trap (2001) was also shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. His poetry collection, The Good Neighbour (2005), was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). In 2008, he received a Cholmondeley Award.

Sujata Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad and brought up in Pune until 1968, when she emigrated to the United States with her family. She received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award for her first collection Brunizem.  She has translated Gujarati poetry into English for the Penguin Anthology of Contemporary Indian Women Poets. Combining both Gujarati and English, Her poems have appeared in various journals in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, and Canada, and have been widely anthologised, as well as being broadcast on British, German, and Dutch radio. She now lives in Germany.

David Constantine was born in Lancashire.  He was until recently the co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation.  As well as poetry, short stories, and a novel, he has translated Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet.  He has been shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award and recently won the Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award, the first English writer to do so. His new collection, Elder, out from Bloodaxe in March 2014 will be launched at StAnza.

Tishani Doshi is an Indian poet, journalist and dancer.  She was born in Madras, India, to a Welsh mother and Gujarati father. Her first poetry collection, Countries of the Body, won the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection.  She is also the recipient of an Eric Gregory award, the All-India Prize for her poem The Day We Went to the Sea.  Her most recent book of poetry, Everything Begins Elsewhere was published by Bloodaxe in 2012.

Brian Turner is an American poet, essayist, and professor. He won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley for his debut collection, Here, Bullet, the first of many awards and honours received for this collection of poems about his experience as a soldier in the Iraq War. Since then he has won a Lannan Literary Fellowship and NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. His second collection, Phantom Noise, was shortlisted for the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize.

Born in Visalia, California, Turner taught English in South Korea for a year, and traveled to Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Japan.  He was an infantry team leader for a year in the Iraq War beginning November 2003, with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. In 1999 and 2000 he was with the 10th Mountain Division, deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Menna Elfyn is a Welsh language poet, playwright, columnist, and editor. She has published ten volumes of poetry and a dozen more of children’s books and anthologies. She has also written eight plays for stage, six radio plays for BBC, two plays for television as well as writing documentaries for television. In 2002 she was poet Laureate for the Children of Wales, and she also co-edited the Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry.

Ron Silliman is an American Poet.  He has written over 30 books and has had his poetry and criticism translated into 12 languages. He has worked as a political organizer, a lobbyist, an ethnographer, a newspaper editor, a director of development, and as the executive editor of the Socialist Review (US).  He has taught in the Graduate Creative Writing Programme at San Francisco State University, at the University of California at San Diego, and the New College of California.

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Meet Erin Fornoff, Digital Slam winner

25 Sep

We are handing this blog space over to the winner of our Digital Slam, Dublin based American poet, Erin Fornoff. Check out her winning StAnza Digital Slam performance here.

In this post, Erin tells us a little about her background, her favourite poets and what she’s doing performance wise in the lively poetry and spoken work scene across the Irish Sea.

IMG_1792 (2)I am from Asheville, North Carolina, a hippie town in the middle of the Bible Belt of the Appalachian Mountains–the prettiest place on earth! I work for a charity doing social entrepreneurship, and spend my days talking to social visionaries about how they are changing the world and how they got to be the way they are–a privilege. I have lived in Dublin for the past four and a half years.

I came from a creative family and read constantly but was always more focused on visual art. When I was in college, I did nothing artistic, but I got to be friends with a gang that was writing a thousand lines of poetry for their senior thesis. The group also went to a local dive bar every Thursday after class for pitchers of beer with the professor. I’d join them sometimes (the pitchers were free), I loved all the artistic chatter, and started wondering if I could write poems too. I decided to try and write one. I worked on it for ages–about whitewashing a house, badly, during a brief sojourn in Spain–and submitted it to the University literary journal’s poetry contest. I was floored when it won first prize! Baffling to me now, I didn’t write one again for years and years until I moved to Dublin and was swept up in the thriving literary scene here, my favorite part of which is performance based. I found a home and a crew and an endless source of inspiration in the basement bars and festival tents where poetry comes alive in a different way. I found some great friends who were extremely supportive, got me on stage and clapped after, and I will never forget it.

My favorite poets and influences are too many to mention–Mary Oliver and her journeys and wild geese was an early first love; and Philip Levine with his poems about eating potatoes with butter and salt and “Can you taste what I am saying?”;  and Richard Wilbur and his daughter and how he “hoped everything I hoped for her before, but harder”; Billy Collins and the sheep and the Gutenberg Bible; Gerald Manley Hopkins and his “heart in hiding/stirred for a bird”; Hafiz and casting all his votes for dancing; Langston Hughes and jazz like a hypodermic needle; Emily Dickinson’s “If your nerve, Deny you/ Go above your nerve”; and Yeats and his romantic Ireland (or lack thereof). Others include Goodie Mob, the hip hop poets of the Dirty South, my mates Colm Keegan, John Cummins, Kalle Ryan, Stephen James Smith, and those astonishing English musical hybrids Kate Tempest and Dizraeli.

Upcoming I have a few gigs, I’m doing one end of October at Farmleigh House where the Queen stayed when she was here, with my Glastonbury friend Hollie McNish and another friend, Hozier, who’s a rising soul/blue singer, hosted by Peter Sheridan, their Writer In Residence, a playwright and author who became a friend and mentor after he vanquished me in the finals of Literary Death Match. Very excited about that one, partially because it’s not a place with a lot of spoken word and hopefully we can shake it up! http://www.farmleigh.ie/Events/Title,25003,en.html

I’m also curating “Righteous Verse,” a group of some poets performing at a festival called Fading Light in Kerry in the October bank holiday–a small thing that takes over all the pubs in a whole little village in Caherdaniel, the far southwest of Ireland. http://fadinglightfest.com/

Finally, I’m working with a group of performance and page poets, all mates, and we’re organizing Dublin’s first spoken word festival, called Lingo, next spring. No official date set but one coming soon!

Erin Fornoff

View more of Erin’s poetry at  http://erinfornoff.wordpress.com/videos/

Seamus Heaney at StAnza

9 Sep

A personal reminiscence by Brian Johnstone, former Festival Director 

In his funeral tribute to Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon talked about how everyone in the poetry community has been devastated by our sudden loss. Muldoon went on to describe Seamus’s “signal ability to make each of us feel connected not only to him but to one another.” So in this small remembrance of his connections to StAnza, and to me through my work for the festival, I can only call him Seamus. To address him as Heaney seems too impersonal for such a generous and gregarious man. Although I only met him a few times, and attended no more than half a dozen of his appearances, my feelings tell me that I have lost a friend – a friend whose poetry has inspired me in my own writing, but also a man who made me feel he was a friend and supporter of all I tried to do with StAnza – someone who encouraged me in both of these endeavours whenever we met.

1999Seamus’s first appearance at StAnza was in 1999 – only the second festival, so we were aiming high even in those days. Through the support of the University School of English we were able, despite being a very young festival, to feature him on the bill. Seamus appeared on the Thursday night in the Buchanan Theatre – our subsequent main venue The Byre not having been built by then – taking the stage for a two part reading. In the first half he read from his various collections and in the second from his recently published translation of Beowulf. Needless to say, the event was wonderful and very well received by a capacity audience.

I had actually first come across Seamus in performance at an event held as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe some years before. Watching the funeral online brought back powerful memories of this first experience. Playing at various points during the service was the uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn, with whom Seamus had performed at that Fringe event years back. Sitting side by side on the Assembly Rooms stage in front of a large audience doesn’t sound like the best way to achieve a close rapport with those listening, but so focused were the two that the experience was one of extreme intimacy. I felt as if I had been sitting at their fireside in rapt attention as the poet and piper swapped verses and tunes. It was my first encounter with Seamus Heaney and it is one I will never forget.

It is this very sense of intimacy that Seamus was so adept at putting over to his audience, and which was characteristic of his subsequent appearances at StAnza. At that first one in the Buchanan Theatre, however, I only got to meet him very briefly because of his other commitments. I managed to shake him by the hand and thank him for his reading, and that was it. But this was enough for him to remember me when next we met, despite the hundreds of people he must have met in all his travels. This was in London at the British Library when I was representing StAnza at the 2005 launch of The Poetry Archive website. Seamus was the guest reader at this event and I was astonished to discover that he not only remembered me but was even happy to have a chat for ten minutes or so. We had bit of craic about the great Scottish poet – and mutual favourite – Norman MacCaig and I was able to personally invite Seamus back to St Andrews for a future festival. He was glad to accept, and we subsequently agreed on him topping the bill for the 10th festival in 2007. But I would be in his company again before then.

In the summer of 2006, Seamus gave a superb reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and I was fortunate to be invited to the reception held in his honour at the Irish Consulate. As always, Seamus was feted by a large crowd, but the reception gave me another chance to have a friendly chat with Seamus&Brianthe poet and an opportunity to meet his wife Marie. I remember him reiterating his real fondness for St Andrews and for Scotland in general and my saying how much we were looking forward to welcoming him to StAnza the following March. Sadly, that was not to be.

I was on holiday in France later that summer when I had a call from Eleanor Livingstone, then StAnza’s Artistic Director. The news was bad. Seamus had had a stroke and was in hospital. His doctors had advised him – ordered, more like – to cancel all engagements for the next year at least. All I could do was ask Eleanor to pass on my sympathies to Seamus’s family, with whom we were in touch through a mutual friend, and start thinking about who we could book as a replacement.

Back home, meeting Eleanor to discuss this, she told me about an extraordinary phone call she had had while I was still on holiday. If proof were needed – which it’s not – of Seamus’s extraordinary character, this is it. Having been unable to get any definite information, Eleanor called the mobile number Seamus had given us. The following day Seamus, having noticed her missed calls, phoned back. He was, he told her, still in hospital but he wanted to apologise to StAnza for letting us down!

Thankfully, Seamus recovered from that bout of ill health and by the next year was ready to discuss honouring his promise to come back to StAnza. While he explained that he wouldn’t be able to be at StAnza in the immediate future, he wanted to be clear – more generosity – that he hadn’t forgotten his promise. And so he was booked to appear in 2010, the last StAnza for which I was Festival Director. For me personally, this was a wonderful coup and for our audiences it meant that my stepping down would be marked with the biggest name possible. I was – am – so grateful to Seamus for that.

Working together on festival planning, Eleanor and I managed to programme not one but three separate events featuring Seamus. A full main stage reading, of course; but Seamus was also willing to give a round table reading, one of StAnza’s signature intimate readings for only a dozen or so people; on top of that, we arranged for him to take part in an In Conversation with Dennis O’Driscoll (sadly also recently departed). A bumper appearance indeed!

Seamus book signedI have a very special personal memento of my last festival as a director – and all down to Seamus. Naturally, I asked him to sign a few of his collections for me, one of these being my long-term favourite Station Island. The original Faber publication of this features on the cover and title page what looks like an illustration from an ancient Irish manuscript. This Seamus deftly altered adding speech bubbles to mark my departure from StAnza, but my continued commitment to the stanzas of my own poetry. It’s just such a quirky and amusing bit of personal response – I will treasure it always.

Both the main stage reading and the In Conversation were sold out in record time and in the end we had to relay both events to the Byre studio and conference room for overspill audiences whom Seamus surprised by dropping in on them unexpectedly during the interval. Again, generous to a fault. Other visiting poets were crammed into every available corner of the theatre, just to ensure they caught the events. In the end, the audiences for both main events were at full capacity in the main theatre, and overflowing to not one but two additional venues. The audiences for both main events were well in excess of the actual capacity of their original venues!

But for me, the true highlight of Seamus’s last StAnza appearance was his round table reading. At that he surprised all present by producing photocopies of a series of new, unpublished poems and passing them round the table. These he proceeded to read and then – more astonishing yet – to more or less ask the audience for a crit. We could scarcely believe that we were sitting round a table with someone of Seamus Heaney’s stature and he was asking us what we though of his new work. Generous again, and inclusive in a way that, as Paul Muldoon said, made us all feel so connected to him and, through him, to each other.

There is little more I can say except that, while I owe StAnza so much, and through it have met numerous poets whose work I love and admire, being able to meet and share some small bits of time with Seamus Heaney is one of the things I feel absolutely the most grateful for. As the poet Jo Bell said so eloquently in her tribute to Seamus, “Poetry stands for love. Those whom we remember are the ones who said most clearly, that which we are trying every day to say.”

Brian Johnstone

9th September 2013

 

StAnza ’99 programme:

http://issuu.com/stanza/docs/1999?e=1457317/3190480

StAnza 2010 programme:

http://issuu.com/stanza/docs/stanza10-final?e=1457317/3187815

2010 photo gallery:

http://stanzapoetry.org/2010/photo-gallery10.php

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

1 Sep
StAnza 2010 In Conversation event

Seamus Heaney in conversation with Dennis O’Driscoll at StAnza 2010

The death of Seamus Heaney has prompted tributes from all over the world: it is indeed rare to see a poet’s passing command the front pages of newspapers and dominate the internet and social media the way his has done. For those of us at StAnza he will be particularly missed. His second appearance at the festival in 2010, after a gap of ten years, was one of the most memorable ever. He and the late (also much missed) Dennis O’Driscoll brought humour, grace and wit to their performances and to the festival atmosphere in general. Heaney said at the time that he had an especially ‘deep connection’ with St Andrews and with the poetry audience there.

His is a great loss, for family, friends and to poetry.

Much has already been published about the life and work of Heaney including this Guardian obituary. We will be posting a full appreciation soon about the poet’s involvement with StAnza and St Andrews, from Brian Johnstone, former Festival Director.

In the meantime here is a recent recording by Heaney himself, reading the beautiful poem Postscript, which captures so well the preciousness and transcience of life:

http://www.rte.ie/archives/2013/0830/471296-seamus-heaney-postscript/

Celebrate the poetry of Seamus Heaney ‘On Home Ground’

18 Jul
StAnza 2010 In Conversation event

Seamus Heaney in conversation with the late Dennis O’Driscoll at StAnza 2010

Like Scotland, Ireland is famous for its literary festivals, usually centred on areas associated with writers. This one is really rather special: a celebration of poetry and place in the territory of one of the world’s most prominent poets: Seamus Heaney.

‘On Home Ground’ is a new festival, taking place over a long weekend in Magherafelt,  in the South Derry of Heaney’s poetry. The Festival, unique in returning the local Nobel Laureate to his home ground, is one of the highlights of the Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 events programme.

Seamus Heaney, as Patron, will open the festival with an address entitled Important Places: A Reading with Commentary on Friday 20 September 2013. During the weekend there will be talks and readings about local places and the chance to take a guided tour of the places Heaney talks about or there will be ample time to explore them yourselves.

Other poetic gems include a reading by award-winning poet Michael Longley and novelist and short story writer Bernard MacLaverty, both of whom are favourites at StAnza. And among the other events are readings by Colette Bryce, Nick Laird and Sinead Morrissey. During the course of the weekend there will an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Michael McGuinness, one of the finest Irish artists of his generation. The National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, will close the Festival on Sunday 22 September.

Nine of the 10 Festival events will be held in the grounds of Laurel Villa Guesthouse in Magherafelt, a designated UK Poetry Society Landmark, which hosts regular poetry readings through the year.

On Home Ground Poetry Festival is part-funded by Culture Company 2013.

The full Festival program including box office information is available at http://www.laurel-villa.com

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