Tag Archives: Rime

StAnza 2014 in words and images

2 Sep

So what were Rob Mackenzie’s 20 Moments from StAnza 2014? Why did time stop in the Undercroft for Helena Nelson? What did Tishani Doshi say about dogs, death and St Andrews in her column for the New Indian Express? And why did Ellen McAteer recommend attending StAnza as “the best thing you will do”.

As we approach the halfway mark between this year’s festival and next year’s, what better time to reflect on the popular and critical success of StAnza 2014.
The Afterword page is now live on our website at http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2014/afterword14.php. As ever there are galleries of photographs – a mixture of programmed events and all the encounters and experiences which always happen at StAnza in-between and around events – plus links to videos and podcasts from the festival and a wide range of articles and reviews, including those mentioned above. So if you were at this year’s festival, you can re-capture a flavour of it, see who else was there, get a sense of the atmosphere; and if you weren’t there, now you know what you missed!

Cypress Well (Jim Causley & Lukas Drinkwater), photographer Helena Fornells Nadal

Cypress Well (Jim Causley & Lukas Drinkwater), photographer Helena Fornells Nadal

Here at StAnza HQ we’ve hugely enjoyed reading all that’s been written about the festival, the articles and reviews, and also your feedback via the questionnaire forms you obligingly complete for us. We love to read how StAnza was for you and to learn that it is a favourite festival for so many. ‘A vintage year’ people said, perhaps with reference to the contemporary circus show with which we opened this year, or maybe Paul Muldoon’s final reading for the festival, or even the party which followed. Here are just a few of the other comments made:

‘Wonderful event, warm, friendly, relevant, provocative and held in a beautiful place.’

‘The festival was fantastic, I can’t imagine any better atmosphere for poetry than the one you so perfectly created.’

‘The breadth of vision of StAnza is good for us all!’

‘An annual treat – a feast of poetry in a wonderful setting.’

‘Truly international and an inspiring event. It’s a really important part of the poetry calendar.’

And as well as reading about StAnza, you can listen to podcast interviews with some of the poets who took part, including Brian Turner and Tanya Shirley, or watch video interviews with artist Lucilla Sim and Gill Plain who spoke in March about women’s poetry from WWI.

Tanya Shirley book signing,  photographer David Vallis

Tanya Shirley book signing,
photographer David Vallis

Our strand of events in recognition of the centenary of WW1 included David Constantine’s lecture on The First World War at Home and Abroad, about which many of you commented. We are therefore very pleased now to have been able to include a link to the text of this on the Afterword page on our website at http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2014/afterword14.php

Next year’s StAnza takes place 4-8 March at St Andrews.

Four point three seconds.

20 May

Square Peg Contemporary Circus, photograph by Alistair Kerr

Square Peg Contemporary Circus, photograph by Alistair Kerr

We are pleased to introduce another guest post, this time from Alistair Kerr, one of this year’s photographers.

Four point three seconds. It seems incredible that the essence of such a vibrant and varied event as StAnza can be condensed into such a short space of time; but that’s the sum total of the exposure times used when I covered StAnza 2014’s launch night on 5th March and the Poetry Centre Stage event a few days later. You may have seen me – I was the guy at the back of the auditorium, watching proceedings through a rather large lens. If I did my job well, hopefully you didn’t notice me at all, at least not during the stage performances.

This was my first time providing official photography coverage at StAnza, or any poetry event for that matter, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I expected, it had its challenges and its rewards. The rewards are obvious – a privileged view of proceedings at an internationally-acclaimed event; and a chance to experience the poets, speakers, and performers, the buzz of the crowds of delegates, Square Peg’s unforgettable performance of Rime, the chilled post-event atmosphere and music from local musicians; in fact everything that contributes to making StAnza, well, StAnza.

TJ Dema, Photograph by Alistair Kerr

TJ Dema, Photograph by Alistair Kerr

To the non-photographers among you, the challenges may be slightly less obvious: lighting levels and contrast fluctuating continually, tricking the camera’s metering (needless to say, flash is out of the question); and in that pin-drop atmosphere in which the poets are speaking, shooting at the wrong moment risks turning all eyes to you rather than them –until you have used your camera in this kind of environment, you just can’t appreciate how loud it is when shooting. At the Centre Stage event there was only the briefest of opportunities to capture images of speakers and performers, usually between poems when audience applause masked camera noise. Agonisingly often, the speaker would look down or sip from a glass of water during these fleeting moments!

That said, I loved the whole experience, and was very pleased with the images I managed to capture of those on stage that evening, including Carol Ann Duffy, TJ Dema, and John Sampson – check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/alistairkerrphotographer and scroll back to March to see some of these, if you haven’t already (and I’d really appreciate it if you would “Like” the page while you’re there!).

I must say it was great to see the Byre swing back into action, and it was almost as if it had never closed its doors – a testament to the hard work and dedication of Stephen Sinclair and his colleagues who have been battling to keep it open. It doesn’t seem like 6 years since I held my first major exhibition there in 2008, “Seeing the Wood for the Trees”, which appropriately enough was a collaboration with Fife poet Jenny Elliott.

I’ll end with a light-hearted plea to poets and performers at StAnza 2015: please spare a thought for this hard-pressed photographer. Next time you’re speaking, as many times as you can manage, take a split second (around 1/200th of a second should be enough, depending on lighting conditions) to look up to the audience, keeping nice and still, adopting a pleasant but satisfyingly poetic expression, and making sure your head is tilted up into the light just enough to avoid panda-eye shadows from the stage lights above, and if you strike any dramatic poses, please hold them for a second or two…I think that should just about cover it, thanks! If you can’t, well, I guess I’ll just have to deal with it…

I hope to be providing official photography coverage at various events during StAnza 2015. I’ll also be running a promotion again exclusively for StAnza delegates, with a heavily discounted rate for headshots (for you to use in your publications or publicity material), so please look out for my flyer in your delegate pack. I look forward to seeing you then! In the meantime, I wish you all a great year…and I’d love to hear from you, either through Facebook or my website. I’d be more than happy to discuss any photography requirements you may have and will of course offer you a special post-StAnza discounted rate!

Square Peg Contemporary Circus, photograph by Alistair Kerr

Square Peg Contemporary Circus, photograph by Alistair Kerr

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