Tag Archives: Jane McKie

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem 143: Linlithgow

15 Jan

Abroad in Preston House, Linlithgow

Six white nymphs,
transplanted north,
support a gazebo
without expression,
silently hefting it
above their heads.

They are dwarfed
by a splendid undead yew,
its weeping bark tea-wet,
like tilled earth.

It is a gravedigger prince
giving testimony
to the lives of maids,
lamenting them
more eloquently
than an epitaph.

Is this what you’d want
when your time comes?
A single mourner
singing resin,
singing needles,
singing shade.

Jane McKie

from When the Sun Turns Green (Polygon, 2009)
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.

Two Opportunities for Poets

27 Nov

By Sunday the core programme for StAnza 2014 will be online, so keep watching this space. Meantime we thought we’d pass on details about these two opportunities for poets.

There are just three days left to apply to become a cinnamon poet. The newly redesigned Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection Prize closes at the end of November. It’s an opportunity to win £500 plus a publishing contract for a full length collection. Past winners have gone on to be short-listed for the Forward Prize for best first collection; have won the Scottish Arts Council Best First Book of the Year (Jane McKie, who read at StAnza a couple of years ago) and featured in the Forward Anthology. Runners up in the Cinnamon Press competition will also appear in the expanded, all-poetry anthology.

The competition will be adjudicated by two poets who took part at StAnza last year, Helen Ivory and Martin Figura. Entry is £12 for an initial ten poems (short listed poets will be asked to send further work). Work should not have appeared previously in a full length collection, but may have been published in magazines, online or in pamphlets. Full details here.

And if you are aged 18-30, there’s just one week left for playwrights, poets and novelists in that age group to apply for the £30,000 Sky Academy Arts Scholarships (previously known as the Futures Fund). The final deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 6 December.

Sky, in association with IdeasTap, is giving away five £30,000 bursaries and mentoring support to talented artists aged 18-30 from the UK and Ireland. Find out more and apply at www.ideastap.com/sky.

More event reviews, plus news of our webcast tomorrow

17 Mar

James on Day 3: Filmpoem Live, Lavinia Greenlaw and Chase Twichell, Split Screen Webcast Tomorrow

I’m getting tired of beginning my blog posts with a comment on how packed the audience of some event or other was. Perhaps I just have a fantastic instinct for choosing the best events to go to? Or perhaps there are simply a ridiculously large number of poetry heads in St Andrews this week?

In either case, please take is as read from now on that whatever events I talk about were sardine-stacked to the rafters.

Filmpoem Live

Alastair Cook’s Filmpoems are an ongoing project pairing readings of great poems with filmic extensions. And what a roster of poets Cook has ensnared in his celluloid web! In this particualr live performance there were poems by Jane McKie, Jo Bell, Jennifer Lynn Williams, Kevin Cadwallender and Colin Will.

Each poet read their poem while Cook’s moving images screened behind them. Landscape-like music was provided live by Luca Nasciuti.

Conflicts between different contributor’s conceptions of what the poem should be – the words, the images and the music all had complimentary but different things to say – were the most interesting part of these performances to me. At the beginning of the event I actually found it hard to take in the three different strands all at once. It is something of a trick to appreciate the overall film entity, like looking at a magic eye picture.

Jane McKie had some interesting things to say about the collaboration process in her introduction to Leper Window, St Mary the Virgin.

Listen to Janie’s introduction about the “serendipity of bring two forms together” here:http://audioboo.fm/boos/715853-poet-jane-mckie-on-collaborating-with-alastair-cook

And watch the film she’s talking about here: http://vimeo.com/36201991

You can see more of the filmpoems on http://www.filmpoem.com/.

Poetry Centre Stage with Chase Twichell and Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia – who said she has an unexpected claim to fame in that the Essex Tourist Board has complained about her poetry – presented a set which included subjects such as Arctic personality disorder, silent discos and messenger gods.

Chase’s reading was organised into pairs – two love poems, two environmental poems, two poems about drugs – not unlike the poet pairings StAnza uses for all of the Poetry Centre Stage series.

Chase has had sixteen years of Zen Buddhist teaching, but the first half of the reading avoided Zen topics. Shortly after “Sayonara, Marijuana, Mon Amor”, however, Chase sharpened her Zen pencil with “How Zen Ruins Poets” and got down to some more Buddhist poetry in the second half.

I was particularly taken with this line, and I’ll leave you with it:

“Falling leaf, stop for a moment so I can write on you.”

Split Screen Webcast Tomorrow

“More webcasting?!” I hear you cry.

Well it’s true: due to the success of Saturday morning’s webcast of Poetry Breakfast, the Split Screen launch reading will be webcast live at 2.15pm on Sunday, which is tomorrow as I write. The new anthology by Red Squirrel Press brings the worlds of film/television and poetry together for what promises to be an interesting collision.

Find out more and watch the broadcast here on the Byre Theatre website. We’ll tweet the link soon. 


As the homing pigeon of time grows tired of flirting with the other pigeons in Trafalgar Square and actually decided to fly home, so today’s blog post has come to an end.

Never fear! You can follow my Storify timeline of the pick of the pics, best links, tweets and boos surrounding StAnza here:http://storify.com/empowermint/stanza-scotland-s-international-poetry-festival-20-22and join the StAnza conversation using #StAnza12.

I’m available for stalking atwww.james-t-harding.comand on Twitter @empowermint.

Stephanie Green: what I am looking forward to at StAnza.

14 Mar

As StAnza kicks off this evening with an evening of poetry and jazz, our guest blogger, poet Stephanie Green previews some events she is particularly keen to see at StAnza. As she says herself, she has been coming to the festival for years and has been blogging about us on her own blog. So it was about time, we reckoned that she did some posts for us. She will be posting here through the festival, exploring the theme of the image in words and pictures. Here are her tips for events featuring some of the rising stars of poetry.

What am I looking forward to? What am I not? This will be my 7th visit to StAnza and I still get a buzz from the sharp, clear light of St Andrews, glorying in the crow-stepped architecture of the university and old town, and imbibing the smell of the sea and diesel in the harbour and the sounds of sea-gulls along with the poetry. Also hearing Big Names I’ve not heard before, and meeting up with poet friends I know from all over Scotland and other poet friends I’ve made at workshops all over Britain or even those I’ve met at StAnza itself. A gathering of poet clans.

The social side of StAnza is one of its best aspects. Having a central meeting place: the Byre, with bar and cosy sofas, it’s easy to bump into the Big Names and chat informally -if that’s what you’d like to do. There are events all over town too but it’s so small and the streets so narrow, that one keeps bumping into the same people. And if you’re a solitary soul, or just a need a break to recover from too much poetry (Heaven forfend) then there are the wide skies and lonely sands of the West Sands to escape to…but enough of escaping, before even arriving.

Gill Andrews is a rising star in the Scottish poetry world – shortlisted for the Picador publishing prize last year and the Edwin Morgan prize, she is an alumna of St Andrew’s university too – tutored by Don Paterson and Kathleen Jamie. As she has a background in the law, you can expect dramatic poems of incisive brilliance, a razor-sharp logic with a visceral punch, so don’t miss her reading at all costs on Sunday 18th March, 11.30am with Simon Barraclough who comes trailing clouds of glory from England.Oh, yes, I must declare partiality here. Gill is friend of mine but don’t let that prejudice you.

Another rising star, and also friend, is Jane McKie (Janie to friends) who pipped Gill in the Edwin Morgan prize by winning it with her exquisite poem ‘The Leper Window, St. Mary the Virgin). St Mary’s is incidentally a church in Sussex where Janie comes from – but she has been settled in Scotland for some time. Her pamphlet ‘Garden of Bedsteads’ (Mariscat Press) was promoted by the Poetry Book Society as their recent Pamphlet Choice. But Janie is a stalwart with two previous full collections to her name, the most recent ‘When the Sun Turns Green’ (Polygon, 2009).
Don’t miss Jane’s reading either – you’ll experience an extraordinarily inventive and unusual imagination which draws its inspiration from folklore and history- the darker strands, and like a magpie, she is drawn to strange, curious things of the natural world: beetles, the archaeopteryx, ostrich eggs, deep-sea creatures, but also writes poems shot through with the anxiety and fears of being a mother of small children. She’s reading with the well-known John Siddique on Friday 16th March at 2.15.

Another friend (Is there no end to them?) I must flag up is Claudia Daventry, star of Poetry Slams, winning a prize at the Irish Satirical Verse competition (the Percy French) in Strokestown, County Roscommon a few years ago. She has since licked the Ozzies in an online slam and is well known on the Scottish Slam scene. However, she is no mean literary poet too, scooping prizes at the literary Heavyweight competitions, the Arvon and Bridport. See her poem ‘Amsterdam’ you can find on the StAnza Participants’ web-page. Witty, hilarious, naughty…but also moving, with a flair for drama. And if we’re lucky, she make break into song. You may end up with a stitch, from laughing, or weeping into your sandwich, while you enjoy her ‘Poetry Cafe’ event at the Byre Theatre on Friday 16th March, 1pm.

If you want a poetry workshop, then I highly recommend the witty, laid-back barge poet (she lives on one) Jo Bell, whose workshop will be on using the negative for positive effects. I had the never-forgotten delight of attending this workshop during the Word Play Festival in Edinburgh earlier this year. No, there will not be a dry eye in the house, and never will you enjoy a workshop more, nor deny the not inconsiderable reams of poem notes you will emerge with. I’ll not flag up the headline poets – because of course you’re probably going to hear them anyway.But check out Tusiata Avia from Samoa, Alan Buckley (past winner of the Wigtown prize), Pippa Little (winner of the Norman MacCaig prize, 2011)

To start off, I am going along to hear Don Paterson, not as poet this time but as jazz guitarist with the Dave Batchelor Quintet celebrating Larkin’s love of jazz on the opening night, 8pm, 14th March.

Stephanie Green

Our thanks to Stephanie, who blogs at http://stephaniegreensblog.blogspot.com/

Keep on reading!

We’ll be blogging about the launch and the festival regularly over the next few days. watch this space!

Poetry at the EIBF

24 Aug

The apocalyptic sounding rain on the roof of the tent did nothing to spoil last Saturday evening’s Poets’ Showcase at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The city itself, past and present, was a feature of the poetry. StAnza’s former Festival Director Brian Johnstone, recalled the Morningside of the Sixties and – ironically – the running of the last tram. Edinburgh’s Makar Ron Butlin charted the recent transformation of the old tenements into ‘glass and mirror palaces’. They were joined on stage by two vibrant new voices. Rob MacKenzie combined a strong sense of the absurd with subtle observations of Edinburgh street life in ‘White Noise’ and a sardonic, tourists’ coach-bound view in ‘Scotlands’. Jane McKie took us back to the country and the mysteries of the natural world, including farms, fighting hares and – something for the arachnophobes in the audience – the anatomy of spiders. All in all, a varied and evocative evening.

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