Tag Archives: literary festivals

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

Relive StAnza 2013 – in words and pictures

1 Jul

Luke Wright/Chris Scott


St Leonards Folk Group/Chris Scott

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone sums up perfectly the unique experience of StAnza ’13 in her Afterword just published on our website: ‘even the weather didn’t spoil the enjoyment.’ Add to that, she says, Gillian Clarke’s lecture on the day that Wales played Scotland, a dash of tartan noir from Robin Robertson’s ‘sepulchral’ toned reading, the pairing of Mark Doty and Erin Moure, 70 poets, plus musicians, artists and filmmakers…and you have the best festival ever.

Yes we had venues to rearrange, and it rained and it snowed, but as the photo coverage of our Afterword page shows, the festival was busier than ever, and more poetry was found out and about in St Andrews than ever before.

Stitched & Spoken ‘poetry dresses’/Anja Hertenberger

Yes, our Afterword page has just gone live with a gallery of photographs taken at the events, the venues and around town. It  is the work of our wonderful team of volunteer photographers who all gave their time, talent and boundless energy to covering the 100 plus events that made up this year’s festival.

In the festival hub

In the festival hub/Jiye Lee

Check out who was at the festival, get a sense of the atmosphere and if you weren’t there – now you know what you missed!

Reviews and Interviews section: Catch up on the reviews and interviews by clicking on the links in our page, which features interviews (courtesy of SPL and Culture Laser) with poets such as George Szirtes, Gillian Clarke, Erín Moure and Alvin Pang.

Jacob Sam-La Rose/Al Buntin

Jacob Sam-La Rose/Al Buntin

Meantime StAnza lives on around town

Some of the exhibitions and installations from StAnza 2013 in March have been extended into and over the summer. Dualism, Chris Park’s quirky photographs of poets, will be on show at Fairmont St Andrews, just outside town, until September. And in town you can see some of our poetry texts on windows at St Andrews Wine Company on Bell Street, Cherries on South Street, and at the Bus Station.

Next year’s StAnza takes place 5-9 March at St Andrews

‘Wisdom, humour and poetic know-how’: Joy Howard on the voices of Grey Hen Press

1 Mar

Howard, JoyI’m so looking forward to bringing four notable older women poets together in St Andrews for the Grey Hen Showcase event. Ann Drysdale, Kate Foley, Angela Kirby and Christine Webb are veteran Grey Hens who have been contributors from the very first anthology. Together we’ve met up and performed all over the UK and beyond (a memorable trip to Brussels and Amsterdam was one of our first jaunts). A wonderful combination of wisdom, humour, and formidable poetic know-how which invariably brings the house down. We are all thrilled to be part of StAnza, and as we’re all going to be staying a few days and going to lots of gigs, we’ll be around town having the kind of good time oldies who’ve earned it deserve.

These poets, as well as delighting audiences with their sharp take on the world are also a terrific showcase for Grey Hen Press. When I started up in 2007, it was in response to finding myself writing furiously again after a long break (and I mean long – 20 years during which the day job took over my life). But things had changed a lot since I was first published in the 1980s. I soon realised that it would be really hard to get anywhere – magazine publication and competition success, not to mention work-shopping your way around and doing Creative Writing MAs seemed par for the course, and at 65 I was running out of time. So, I thought, there must be lots of other older women in the same boat. What about rolling up my sleeves and creating something specially for us? A couple of pamphlets and 5 anthologies later, A 6th 0ut in June) it’s looking good. The anthologies aim to create a poetry space for older women (generally speaking dismissed as past it much earlier than men) that is serious, fun and accessible. Each is themed, and designed to be picked up  and browsed And hopefully carried home. In terms of the quality of the poetry the bar is set high, and I have made sure in every book that well-known poets are published alongside newcomers and those who deserve to be better known.

Come along to the Poet’s Market on Saturday, pick up and browse. I’ll be there all day and will be more than happy to chat and sell you a book – or two – they make great presents!

Read about Joy Howard and the poets of Grey Hen Press at http://www.greyhenpress.com/

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