Tag Archives: John Burnside

A message from Aldeburgh …

3 Nov

Screenshot 2015-11-03 13.02.41

While we’ll be revealing the programme for our next StAnza festival later this month, our sister festival in Aldeburgh starts later this week.  We’re delighted to be sharing this message from their new Festival Director, Ellen McAteer, for whom this will be her first festival in post.


I left Scotland to take over the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival just after a revolution. At least that’s how it felt to be there during the referendum, whatever the result and whatever you voted for. People were speaking up for what they believed in. They were exercising their right to freedom.

At last year’s Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, Kathleen Jamie broke the silence on what had happened in Scotland the month before by reading a series of poems on what the year leading up to the referendum had meant for her. She left the crowd cheering by pointing out that those in England had the same freedom to express their concerns to Westminster: ‘that was just a bunch of sweaty overexcited jocks,’ she joked, ‘imagine what you can do!’

A year later and the 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival is upon us, with a theme of Poetry and Freedom. There will be a good representative number of Scots born, raised and by adoption there – John Burnside, Kei Miller, Gerry Loose, Morven Gregor, Christie Williamson, Anna Crowe, Hazel Frew, JL Williams – and course Jim Carruth is shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize – the first Scottish poet published by a Scottish publisher to be so, as far as I know! But there will also be voices for freedom from across the UK and around the globe: Mexican poet Pedro Serrano, Kurdish poet Choman Hardi, Jane Duran from Cuba via Canada, Kim Addonizio and Tony Hoagland from the US, and Valerie Rouzeau from France, as well as YouTube sensation and speaker on freedoms from immigration to breast feeding Hollie McNish, and speaker in various tongues Zaffar Kunial. Joanne Limburg will be turning children and adults Bookside Down, Dorothea Smarrt will be telling tales of ‘queer goings on’, Jack Rooke will be putting the ‘good’ back into ‘grief’ and Jeremy Reed will be keeping it rock and roll.

This has been a year of terrifying freedom and change at the Poetry Trust, and the outcome of the consequent revolution is still to be decided. Come and join the conversation. Vote with your feet. There will be debates, discussions and an open mic – we are all about freedom of speech this year. From across the (un-)United Kingdom and further borders drawn and re-drawn, a gathering of poets will come to the Suffolk Coast on November 6th-8th to demonstrate that poetry IS freedom, in its purest expression.

Ellen McAteer

Aldeburgh Festival Director


More information available online at https://tickets.aldeburgh.co.uk/Online/2015_poetry_festival


Game of Poems?

8 Feb

Brochure coverWith less than a month to go before StAnza 2015, we’re delighted to reveal that our special guest who will launch this year’s festival is the actor Clive Russell. His extensive list of acting credits for television and film roles includes parts in Auf Weidersehen Pet, Vera, Ripper Street, Waterloo Road, the films Fatherland and Oscar and Lucinda and he is currently Blackfish Tully in Game of Thrones. His stage roles range from Shakespeare to his own one man show, Touching the Blue. As well as launching the festival on Wednesday 4 March, he’ll also take part in a StAnza In Conversation at 3.30pm on Saturday 7 March, talking about his interests in poetry.

In more breaking news, we’re delighted that our visual art programme will include new work by Will Maclean, the outcome of a collaboration with John Burnside, as well as artwork from his recent collaboration with Kenneth White. This exhibition will be on Level 4 at the Byre Theatre during the festival.

The first of this year’s exhibitions is already on display at the Byre Theatre on Level 1 and 2. Karen Cairn’s Faces and Places is the outcome of her role as Artist in Residence at StAnza 2014, and is already impressing visitors to the Byre Theatre.

The printed brochure for StAnza 2015 is now out so watch out for copies appearing in all the usual locations. We mailed out to those on our postal list earlier this week and these copies should be landing on doormats about now. If you’re not already on our postal list and you’d like us to post you one free of charge, just send an email to brochure@stanzapoetry.org with your postal address. Meantime the brochure can be viewed online at the link below and full information on the programme, with links to the box office, is available at www.stanzapoetry.org.

To view brochure online, go to: http://issuu.com/stanza/docs/stanza_brochure_2015_sml/0

In other news, the StAnza pre-festival Poetry Book Group is now taking place. Christian Livermore from the University’s School of English is again leading 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. There are still two sessions to catch so to book a free place and for information on the poems to be discussed, contact Debbie Wilbraham on 01333 462275 or open.association@st-andrews.ac.uk, or just turn up at one or more of the sessions. More information can be found at online here.

And our second festival preview event takes place on 17 February at Craigmillar Library in Edinburgh and we’ll be posting more information about that very soon.


East Neuk Festival ticket offer

22 Jun

As we move towards July, it’s almost time for the East Neuk Festival (http://www.eastneukfestival.com/programme/, 27th June – 6th July) which celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year, and once again they will have a literature strand to their festival. Catherine Lockerbie and Jenny Brown have programmed a selection of the UK’s finest nature writers, novelists, broadcasters, philosophers and thinkers discussing the natural world in atmospheric East Neuk settings. Pathways and journeys, personal and geographical, wind through this programme of literary events by the sea. You can hear highly respected names including Kirsty Wark and Sally Magnusson speaking from the heart in historic churches in Crail and the beautiful house and estate of Cambo.

The Festival’s culminating event at the ancient kirk of Kilrenny is with the admired nature and travel writer, Robert Macfarlane. East Neuk Festival has also programmed an entire day for families on Saturday 28th June at Crail Community Hall which celebrates the wonders of the Isle of May.

StAnza has teamed up with the Festival who will offer a two for one ticket offer for the following authors:

John Burnside: Saturday 28 June at Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Crail at 2pm.
Sally Magnusson: Saturday 28 June at Crail Church at 3:30pm
Graham Robb: Saturday 28 June at Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Crail at 5pm
Richard Holloway: Saturday 28 June at Crail Church at 6:30pm.
Tim Dee: Saturday 5 July at Cambo House at 1:45pm.

All you need to do is phone Hub Tickets on 0131 473 2000 by Wednesday 25th June and quote LITTORAL. Offer applies with online booking and in person too at The Hub – just quote: LITTORAL.

The festival opens with a weekend of Classic Jazz at Crail Community Hall from Friday 27 – Sunday 29 June, from Clarinet prodigy, Julian Bliss to Renaud Garcia-Fons to Scottish pianist, Euan Stevenson and guitar player Martin Taylor. Full details at the East Neuk Festival website and there are also ticket offers for the jazz events. You can see Julian Bliss, Renaud Garcia-Fons and Martin Taylor for £40 – quote this offer when booking your tickets with Hub Tickets; and tickets for The Euan Stevenson Trio are only £5 if you are staying on to watch Martin Taylor. Tickets for both concerts must be booked at the same time.

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)

John Burnside Masterclass

13 Oct

RSoc Lit


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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