Tag Archives: John Stammers

Through the window of poetry

15 Aug

The sun shone yesterday on the first day of the Edinburgh International Book Festival adding to the festive atmosphere in Charlotte Square. In the afternoon, the first of  the Festival’s poetry readings was introduced by guest selector, Don Paterson, who read at StAnza back in March.

Don Paterson (photo credit Al Buntin)

First on the podium was John Stammers, whose literary reputation as a ‘dandy and a metaphysical’ makes him unique among contemporary poetic voices. But he pulled few punches with poems from his new, soul-scouring collection Interior Night. Images of love among musical instruments in  ‘Ondine’ gave way to disturbing and yet darkly humorous narratives about drug addiction and an ode to a poster of  the singer, Alison Goldfrapp, seen from a London Underground platform. Strong, satirical stuff.

Sinead Morrissey’s gentle delivery counterpointed the powerful content of her poems, taken from her collection Through the Square Window. Her work ranged through a found poem based on the contents page of  a script of the York Mystery Plays to childhood memories of eating jugged hare, and the joys and fears of being a mother. Two of the most provocative images came from the title poem:  one is a dream of the dead arriving to wash the windows of a mother’s house. The other comes from  an experience of temporary paralysis on waking:  ‘flat on my back with a cork/ in my mouth, bottle-stoppered, in fact,/like a herbalist’s cure for dropsy.’  Morrissey is adept at exploring the mysteries at the heart of everyday experiences.

For the rest of the festival poetry programme, including some StAnza poets, click here

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Poetry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

13 Aug

 

Get your poetry fix at the EIBF this month. New director Nick Barley asked one of Scotland’s premier poets Don Paterson and the Scottish Poetry Library to advise on selections for the Poetry Programme and the line-up is stunning.

Four of the six poets shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize are appearing: Seamus Heaney’s event is sold out but tickets for Jo Shapcott, Robin Robertson and Sinead Morrissey were still available a few days ago.

Also on the roster are Simon Armitage, Paul Muldoon John Glenday, Carol Ann Duffy (reading from her forthcoming collection, The Bees), Jackie Kay, John Stammers, Ron Butlin, StAnza’s own former Director, Brian Johnstone, Kathleen Jamie (in conversation with Jonathan Bate), Douglas Dunn and Mandy Haggith (on Norman McCaig). Kei Miller, our Poet in Residence last March, is also taking part. Click here for full programme and booking details.

Kei Miller at StAnza 2010

And check out the festival’s innovative – and free –  Unbound evenings at the Highland Park Spiegeltent, which will feature a poetry night on Thursday 19 August. Expect the unexpected…

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