Tag Archives: Robert Crawford

Bridging the Continental Divide

15 Apr

dps_open_volAs part of StAnza’s collaboration with the Bridging the Continental Divide project for the translation of neo-Latin Scottish poetry, three Scottish poets were commissioned to produce their own versions of poems from David McOmish’s translations into English and the various versions of the poems with related images were shown as a digital installation at StAnza entitled Bridging the Time Divide. For this Rab Wilson produced his version of ‘On the Marriage of Dear Carr to his Beloved Girl’ by Robert Ayton (or Aytoun), JL Williams produced two versions of ‘On the Eclipse of the Sun in the year 1597’ by Andrew Melville, and Robert Crawford produced his version of Thomas Maitland’s ‘A Jest against Gallus the cuckold’.

Here’s another chance to see the Bridging the Time Divide installation, by clicking on this pdf version.

Bridging the Contental Divide installation

You can also listen here to audio files of Rab Wilson and JL Williams reading their own versions and the original neo-Latin versions (two separate audio files by Rab Wilson, and one audio file with Latin and English versions by JL Williams), and we hope shortly to add here a link to an audio file of Robert Crawford reading his version.

On the Marriage of Dear Carr, by Rab Wilson

On the Marriage of Dear Carr, original Latin version read by Rab Wilson

Through Man Does Woman Shine/On the Eclipse of the Sun

Jubilee Lines

17 Jun

There’s much to enjoy in Faber and Faber’s new anthology, Jubilee Lines – 60 Poets for 60 Years, edited by Carol Ann Duffy.  Each of the last 60 years is represented by one poem and one poet, many of them very familiar names. Just four poems in, for 1956 there’s Class Photograph from Douglas Dunn, looking back at “pensioners in disguise”. And the roll call from StAnza 2012 just past includes Grace Nichols (1965), Christopher Reid offering “The Clearing for 1969, followed by John Burnside (1981), Robert Crawford (1984), Lachlan Mackinnon (1988), Michael Symmons Roberts (1996), Don Paterson (1997), Jackie Kay (1999) and Lavinia Greenlaw (2001).  

To accompany the book, Faber and Faber have collaborated with  Somethin’ Else and The Space to produce a groundbreaking interactive digital platform, which brings together actors’ readings, sound-based generative design and archive footage to create an exciting new way to experience poetry. At its heart are audio readings of the poems in Jubilee Lines, read evocatively by distinguished actors Dan Stevens, Samantha Bond, Lyndsey Marshal and Alex Lanipekun. Graphic designer Stefanie Posavec has produced visualisations of the audio readings using generative design techniques. Derived from characteristics such as the length of the recording and its decibel level, she has created unique artworks for each of the 60 poems.

The twenty poems that most vividly evoke our collective memory are enhanced with rich archive material, including film footage and audio uncovered in the BBC and British Movietone archives, as well as newspapers, adverts and photographs. It includes many items transferred from telecine for the first time, with material that ranges from the iconic (Michael Fish’s weather report in 1987), to the unseen (Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova preparing for her first space flight in 1963), and from the jubilant (children eagerly awaiting the end of sweet rationing in 1953) to the turbulent (miners clashing with police during the strike in 1984).

We are invited to navigate the poems by year, by poet, through archive or by theme (eg. remembrance, identity, vigilance), plotting your own path through 60 years of history, by going to their website at  www.jubileelines.com

(NB  at the time of posting this the link doesn’t seem to be working, we have let them know.)

Talking nonsense

2 May

One of our most successful Past & Present events some years ago was when Annie Freud, talking about T.S. Eliot, was paired with Janice Galloway, talking about Lear. Those who enjoyed that, or missed it, might be interested in an essay series on BBC Radio 3  this week. Sara Lodge from theUniversity of St Andrews (who took part in another very successful StAnza event on Robert Louis Stevenson) has been involved in creating a week long series to celebrate Lear’s bicentenary. It is being broadcast this week, with a different essay each week-day evening  (Monday 30th April to Friday 4th May) at 10.45 pm. There is also the ‘listen again’ facility on iPlayer, available via the Web. Sara’s own essay was broadcast on Monday 30th – it is about Lear, Romanticism, the sublime, and loss. The other contributors are Matthew Bevis on Tuesday, talking about Lear and the ‘story’ of nonsense in the Victorian period; Robert Crawford on Wednesday, talking about Lear’s acoustic and his literary legacy in the work of T. S. Eliot and others; the art historian Caroline Arscott on Thursday talking about Lear’s landscapes and his pictures of tortoises; and the cartoonist Ralph Steadman on Friday, talking about what he and Lear have in common.

Lavinia Greenlaw wins the Ted Hughes Award

29 Mar

Congratulations to Lavinia Greenlaw who won the Ted Hughes Award for her sound work, Audio Obscura. Lavinia was StAnza’s Poet-in-Residence this year.

Judges Edmund de Waal, Sarah Maguire and Michael Symmons Roberts presented the award, which was founded by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and is run by the Poetry Society.

Taking place at Manchester’s Piccadilly station in July 2011 and at London’s St Pancras International station in September / October 2011, Audio Obscura is a sound work in which the listener enters interior lives and discovers, somewhere between what is heard and what is seen, what cannot be said. Audio Obscura was commissioned and produced by Artangel and Manchester International Festival, and Lavinia collaborated with sound designer Tim Barker to produce the work.

The judges  described Audio Obscura as ‘a groundbreaking work that fully captured the spirit of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. The judges felt this was a particularly outstanding year with six stellar entries on the shortlist’.

Nice to note here that two other members of that shortlist were at StAnza: Christopher Reid and Robert Crawford.

Read more about the award here

StAnza out and about

29 Mar

Hugh MacDiarmid's Scotland at St Andrews Bus Station during StAnza 2012

 Thanks to our Creative Scotland ‘One Step Forward’ funding, StAnza certainly stepped out this month around St Andrews and beyond. As well as the poem panel at Leuchars Railway Stations, two poems, ‘Scotland’ by Hugh MacDiarmid and ‘St Andrews’ by Robert Crawford (thanks to permission from Carcanet Press and the Random House Group respectively) have been on show in window panels at the St Andrews Bus Station, our annual Poetry Walk followed a path suggested by the Book of St Andrews, the Poem Pedlar engaged with people all round town and the sun shone wonderfully on our stone carver working in the garden outside the Byre over the glorious festival weekend (which seemed to turn StAnza into a summer festival) where the whispers of this year’s specially commissioned audio  installations added their own soundscape. StAnza is keen to see photographs of people encountering words and text around town during the festival, so do send your own to us at info@stanzapoetry.org and we’ll be happy to publish some of them on this Blog.

Stone carver John Neilson at StAnza 2012 (photo credit Al Buntin)

Stephanie Green: Stereoscopes, and Dual Perspectives

18 Mar

Saturday 17th March, 2012, Day 4

A Poetry Breakfast, complete with coffee and pastries, is a great way to wake up at StAnza.  The Breakfast topic today was ‘Iconic’ with Robert Crawford, Michael Symmons Roberts, Lavinia Greenlaw – all poets and professors as Norman McBeath, the only photographer, commented. They all brilliantly highlighted the various perspectives and aspects of issues surrounding  the image- even straying into the different perspectives of poetry and science, poetry and the religious icon.  In fact, the conversations were so complex and detailed I cannot do more than recommend you try to hear audio clips of it online – when it eventually appears on the StAnza website.

Photography featured  in this discussion and  has throughout the festival.  So I was intrigued to learn that the University also holds one of the largest and most important collections of historic Scottish photography.  St Andrew’s is the hub of Scottish photography.

Apart from the other major photo exhibitions I’ve already blogged about, wavering on the walls of the Byre today were a selection of poems  alongside photos which inspired them : one from the University’s Special Collections archive and others from contemporary student photographers , chosen by ‘Stereoscope,’ the university’s student-produced photography magazine.

A Stereoscope is not something I had encountered before. If you’re into Photography, you may know that it was invented by Sir David Brewster (based at St Andrew’s) to provide the viewer with a dual perspective, creating a 3-D effect, (though wikipedia disputes this- oops do we believe wikip?– conceding he did invent a certain type of stereoscope with prisms  instead of mirrors. Not sure I want to get into this controversy and irritate the powers that be at St A. )  In his day he was more famous for inventing the kaleidescope (though he never made a penny from it as others copied it before he got his patent granted.) No wonder he was noted for his bad temper,  but  Brewster’s correspondence with Wm. Henry Fox Talbot, inventor of the calotype established St Andrew’s as ‘the epicentre of early photography.’

Carson Wos from ‘Stereoscope’ told me the two intriguing photos that got the most responses were Roman Koblov’s  and Jeremy Waterfield’s .  You can see all 5 photos on their magazine blog.

Outside in the grassy courtyard,  chiselling away, was line cutter, John Neilson, working away at a plaque depicting a few lines of verse by Brian Johnstone (former StAnza Director). What had poetry, calligraphy and line cutting on stone in common I wondered?  Beauty of line?  John’s response was that he felt both poet and line cutter valued paring down.  For him, if he was going to spend hours, days, chiselling away, thinking about the poem, it must not be banal or trivial.  Each word must count.  And literally too, he said grinning. The more words, the more it cost!  Hmm, I thought, perhaps many of us wordy, rambling poets should take that to heart.

John has much experience carving lines of poetry. In particular I loved the serpentine words carved on stone slabs on the floor of a church in Bath and also his carving of Carol Ann Duffy’s words at the Much Wenlock Festival, 2010:

‘How your sweetness pervades

My shadowed, busy heart.’

You can see photos of his work on the Letter Exchange website. He is also Editor of their journal ‘Forum’.


Festival Blog: Day Two, Stephanie Green on poetic larceny

17 Mar

Stephanie attended Kwame Dawes’s workshop on Thursday and followed it with other StAnzaesque visual adventures:

Thieves, Liars, Pedlars and Soldiers – and Poets. 

I never thought I’d be incited to a life of crime today but this is what happened.  ‘If you have a great sense of morality about this Grand Larceny, best leave the workshop now’, said Kwame Dawes.  As T.S.Eliot put it – second-rate poets borrow, good poets steal.  But as Kwame said, ‘steal but go to town on it.’  In other words , make something of your own.

This was a workshop about the Ekphrastic – writing poetry inspired by art – my second workshop in a row, phew, but I needn’t have worried. Kwame, who has great warmth and personality made it fun and I left the workshop with a notebook full of approaches  to try out later. It won’t just be art students propping their easels in front of Old Masters in galleries now but poets brandishing notebook and pen- speed-writing, gleaning images to make into something rich and strange later. (Echoes of Lavinia’s workshop at Balmungo House – the image, the image.)

I decided to put Kwame’s theories to the test by catching up with other art installations/exhibitions –  poetry inspired by photos or conversely photos inspired by poets.  Co-incidentally our workshop took place in the Town Library surrounded by Norman McBeath’s photos:  Creative Capture: photos and a poem each of 6 poets who have been are still teaching at St Andrew’s University. What a roll-call: Douglas Dunn (recently retired), John Burnside, Robert Crawford, Kathleen Jamie (now at Stirling Uni) Don Paterson and the latest arrival at St A, Jacob Polley.

These are studio portraits – not the open-mouthed poet in performance, obscured by a mic nor Flickr  off-stage unguarded moments, blurred or blinking. I think I might just hang up my camera straps. Be that as it may, these are seriously good photos – black and white, portraits in depth. It’s interesting to muse though, how much the photos catch the personality of each poet or whether it reflects or contradicts the persona revealed in each poet’s poem.  It must have been hard to select just one poem. I hardly dare say each has the poet’s ‘voice’ since I know Don P says that concept is a nonsense – every poem has its own voice – but all the poems chosen  are instantly recognizable as that poet’s.   I’m not sure all the photos caught that elusive something of the poet’s personality. My favourite photo and poem pairings were of Kathleen Jamie, looking quizzical and her poem ‘Speirin’ and Don Paterson’s looking Noirish with his Film Noir-like poem ‘Rain’.

You can see these photos online via  Echoes from the Vault.

Dan Phillips was last year’s artist in residence and his photo  portraits of poets performing, with much emphasis on hands, hands gesturing, jazz hands, hands to lean books on, are on show in the Byre’s Bistro and Bar. I recognized Jo Bell, John Glenday, Lorna Callery amongst others. They could not be more different from McBeath’s. For the OTT, look at the portrait of  Bob Holman, New York’s performance star, with our own American born/currently Scottish-based Ryan van Winkle

So wherever you go in St A this year there are photographs – the most stunning exhibition of all has to be Simonides’ poetry and Robert Crawford’s translations into raw Scots and English, alongside Norman MacBeath’s photos. I have blogged about the latter when the exhibition was shown at Edinburgh Art College as part of the Edinburgh International Festival last summer (2011).

It was the most interesting art installation of the EIF for me and terrific  to see it again here at StAnza. A sombre note to the festival but if you only come for one thing it should be this heart-stopping exhibition , both photos and poems.  There is no body bag installation as at ECA, though as Crawford has said, the poems themselves are little ‘body bags’ – memories of the dead- recollections of what is lost.

Photography is obviously a big component of StAnza this year.  And St Andrew’s University has an amazing special collection of early photography – it could be said to be the poetic hub of Scotland. But more of that serendipity (No, obviously well thought-out planning) over the weekend.

Book your free place at the StAnza Book Group, St Andrews

19 Jan

Good news for poetry lovers living in and around St Andrews. StAnza is offering free places at its Book Group, a new collaboration between StAnza and the Open Association at the University of St Andrews, which will meet next month to read and talk about poets who will feature at StAnza 2012, including Michael Symmons Roberts and Kathleen Jamie.

Robert Crawford, one of Scotland’s leading poets and currently Professor of Modern Scottish Literature, and PhD students from the School of English at the University will lead three early evening sessions from 5.30pm-7.30pm on Wednesdays 1st, 15th and 29th February in the Conference Room at St Katherine’s West at 16 The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AX. To book a free place contact Ruth Harris or Debbie Wilbraham on 01333 462275 or open.association@st-andrews.ac.uk.

StAnza 2012 focuses on The Image

3 Jan

StAnza’s theme, The Image  has inspired a series of unmissable events, exploring poetry’s relationship with the visual arts, film, tv, and photography. Here are just some of the highlights: Lavinia Greenlaw, the festival’s Poet-in-Residence, will be leading an all-day workshop, ‘Linked Forms’ at Balmungo House, formerly the home of artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham. Participants will draw inspiration from the house itself in its beautiful Fife setting and the artist’s works displayed there. St Andrews has strong links with the history of photography and this will be reflected in several ways at StAnza. Simonides: Body Bags, is a collaboration between poet Robert Crawford and photographer Norman McBeath, juxtaposing images and Scots versions of ancient Greek poems about war. Photographs by StAnza’s Photographer-in-Residence in 2011, Dan Phillips will present a visual record of the poet in performance. More about photographic and art exhibitions here. Photographs are also at the heart of ‘Whistle’, Martin Figuera’s harrowing yet humorous account of his tragic childhood, evoked through family snaps and memorabilia. StAnza has featured poetry films since 2007 and this year has expanded this strand to include to three major events. Psycho Poetica matches original poems and music, with scenes from Hitchcock’s classic. Alastair Cook’s Filmpoem live uses sound and vision to create a new art form: poetry readings and music accompany haunting, beautiful images. Split-Screen, a new anthology of poems inspired by TV programmes and films, which will be launched at StAnza, is a celebration of ways in which poetry has connected with the visual off and on the page. Find out more about these events here.

There also talks, workshops and readings devoted to the theme. Check our website for more details. Tickets go on sale 11 January.

Book Group for StAnza 2012

15 Dec

Ever wished you had a chance to read and discuss poetry before you hear the poet read? If so, read on. Every March StAnza’s spring festival brings a wide range of poetry to St Andrews, presenting poets past and present from around the world. In 2012 as a collaboration between StAnza and the Open Association at the University of St Andrews, a new Book Group will meet before the festival to read and discuss some of the poets who will feature at StAnza 2012, including Michael Symmons Roberts and Kathleen Jamie.

Robert Crawford, one of Scotland’s leading poets and currently Professor of Modern Scottish Literature, and PhD students from the School of English at the University will lead three early evening sessions from 5.30pm-7.30pm on Wednesdays 1st, 15th and 29th February in the Conference Room at St Katherine’s West at 16 The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AX. For more details contact Ruth Harris or Debbie Wilbraham on 01333 462275 or  open.association@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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