Tag Archives: Julia Donaldson

Poetry at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

17 Jun

Liz Lochhead, Scotland's Makar

Poetry lovers have plenty to look forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival which has just announced its programme for August. With a range of writers chosen to reflect the fast-changing times we live in, political change, ecology and the internet, the festival aims to give a snapshot of life and literature in the 21st century.

As one of its major themes, the festival celebrates the centenaries of two poetry giants, Sorley MacLean (who was at the heart of StAnza’s Gaelic Focus) and Czelaw Milosz are the focus of Legends in Literature, a series of talks and tributes about the lives and poetry of these two major figures.  And three laureates will be present: Scotland’s new Makar, Liz Lochhead and the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and the new Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson, who is the guest selector for the children’s programme.

The line-up of present day poets features Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley, Robin Robertson, and Andrew Greig, David Harsent, and Robert Bringhurst and eminent Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. Among the new voices are Rachael Boast, a StAnza volunteer for several years, whose first collection has just been published by Picador, and Ryan van Winkle, Reader-in-Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library, who hosted the Golden Hour at StAnza earlier this year.

The Scottish Poetry Library (who, like the EIBF are partners to StAnza), have brought their successful series ‘Nothing But the Poem’, offering people the chance to read poetry in depth, without prior knowledge, and in a relaxed environment. Join them for a relaxed hour at the Writers Retreat: subjects include, of course, Sorley MacLean and Czelaw Milosz.

Other treats include poets on their prose writing: Don Paterson talking about sonnets, John Burnside on both his new poetry collection, Black Cat Bone and his new novel set in the Arctic; and Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts praise the beauty of modern wastelands.

All this, plus the announcement of the winners of two major awards: the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards (which have on the shortlist, Stewart Conn and Jackie Kay), and the Edwin Morgan Competition.

Tickets for the Edinburgh International Book Festival go on sale, 28 June. The festival runs from 13-29 August. For programme and booking details click here

Julia Donaldson is the new Children’s Laureate

7 Jun

Congratulations to Julia Donaldson, who has just been appointed as the new Children’s Laureate. Glasgow-based Julia was the highlight of the children’s programme at StAnza earlier this year with her show, ‘Wriggle and Roar’ (shown below). She is the first Scottish-based Children’s Laureate and takes over from the writer and illustrator Anthony Browne for a two-year tenure.

It will be no surprise to StAnza’s audiences to hear that, as well as the campaigning work she plans to do, she intends to take to the stage as often as possible. ‘I always act out my own stories with lots of audience participation so I’m planning to do lots more of that,’ she said.

Julia Donaldson on the StAnza stage in March 2011

A Gruffalo, a cave baby? – StAnza’s inspirational children’s poets take the imagination off road

14 Mar

StAnza’s children’s programme features two writers who are household names thanks to their writing for children and young people. Both of them have made poetry, appealing and entertaining: as the budding poets in their audiences will attest.

Julia Donaldson (left) is most famous for The Gruffalo, which has delighted generations of children and has been a big hit on BBC television. She has written poetry books, novels and songs for children of all ages, which she talks about in this interview at the Scottish Book Trust. For StAnza, Julia and her husband will be performing Wriggle & Roar, (Saturday 19th) at the Byre Theatre, a fun filled hour of poetry and song for children aged 4+ and featuring some of her favourite characters. Afterwards, Julia will be signing copies of her latest book, Cave Baby.

Philip Gross is a prize-winning poet, whose collection The Water Table won the T S Eliot Prize. But he is immensely proud of his poetry, plays and fiction for young people. ‘I feel quite fierce about that,’ he told Scotsman writer Susan Mansfield in an interview last week. ‘If I’m writing anything that an adult reader would feel short-changed by or patronised by then I shouldn’t be doing it to young people either.’ Philip started writing when his own children were growing up and his writing matched their ages. His latest book, The Storm Garden, is a novel for teenagers. Philip’s show Off the Road to Everywhere, for children aged 8+ is at on Sunday 18th at the Town Hall in St Andrews. During it he will be presenting prizes to the winners of the StAnza Poetry Competition for young people during the show. The winning poems will be on display at the Byre Theatre.

Click here for more details about the Children’s Programme.

Read Philip Gross’s full Scotsman interview here.

StAnza’s programme is now online!

9 Dec

If you are snowed in and have time to surf, take a look at StAnza’s programme for 2011 which has just gone online at www.stanzapoetry.org

The plethora of poets are due to appear at the festival at the Byre Theatre (left) and other venues in St Andrews, 16-20 March. The line-up is one of the most intriguing yet. Just confirmed is slam legend Bob Holman, who made this brand of performance poetry a force to be reckoned with. Fellow New Yorker Marilyn Hacker is also making a rare visit to Scotland. These transatlantic poets will be joining talents from closer to home: Ciaran Carson: the acclaimed poet from Northern Ireland. Julia Donaldson: the hugely popular children’s author and poet, of Gruffalo fame, who will be heading up the festival’s Children’s Programme and Douglas Dunn, Scotland’s most eminent poet. Recent T. S. Eliot Prize winner Philip Gross has also just been added to the list.

More names to plan your visit to StAnza around are Paul Farley, Selima Hill, Yang Lian, Carrie Etter and Fiona Sampson. Scotland’s voices include John Burnside, Stewart Conn, Helena Nelson, Rab Wilson, Hugh MacMillan and Tom Pow.

Among the international voices are Italy’s Antonella Anedda, Iraqi poet, Adnan al- Sayegh, Belgium’s sound and visual poetry group Krikri, and poets from Georgia and Australia. We’ll be posting more entries about the line-up over the next few months.

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