Tag Archives: Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

Memory and Reality: StAnza’s autumn reading

11 Sep

IMAG0036Yes, there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning and the nights are drawing in, but autumn produces its own fine crop of festivals and poetry, and we at StAnza are taking part.

StAnza is holding a reading at the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival (SMHAFF), following on the success of our involvement in previous years, and this event, to be held in St Andrews, promises to be a treat.


Memory is an important tool, and poetry often serves to record and preserve memories in a way which makes them available to others. In this special reading,  Tom Pow (above) and Paula Jennings (right) will be offering poems on these themes, both of which have featured strongly in their work. Jennings, Paula

The date for your diaries is Tuesday 1st October,6-7pm and the venue is the Council Chamber at the Town Hall, Queen’s Gardens, St Andrews. Admission is free, and all are welcome, but to be sure of a seat, call 07900 207 429 or email: info@stanzapoetry.org

There’s more about SMHAFF’s programme of events here: http://www.mhfestival.com/



Two Special StAnza Events for October

25 Sep

Photo by Al Buntin

In the second of our events planned for Sunday 7th October, StAnza celebrates 15 years of festivals. The first StAnza Poetry Festival launched on October 8th 1998. To celebrate the festival’s continued success, Scottish and American poets take part in a transatlantic reading when StAnza presents ‘Calling New York’, a unique transatlantic reading which brings together two poets in two continents: Douglas Dunn reading in St Andrews and Jay Parini reading in New York. In honour of StAnza’s predecessors and the long tradition of poetry events in St Andrews, the two poets featured have been chosen for the inspiration they gave to StAnza’s founders. Douglas Dunn was the director of festival which immediately preceded StAnza in the 1990s, while Jay Parini started the first ever poetry festival in St Andrews in the 1960s.


The event is part of the Fife programme for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and is held in association with the Roger Smith Hotel, New York. The reading will take place on  in the Byre Studio Theatre at 7pm (BST), and at 2pm (EDT) in New York at the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan, before live audiences at each venue. The poets will be linked via Skype. Both poets have strong connections with St Andrews. Douglas Dunn is one of Scotland’s most prominent poets and founded the Creative Writing programme at the University of St Andrews. Jay Parini, a poet, writer and academic is best known for his novel about Leo Tolstoy, The Last Station.

Tickets for the reading in St Andrews cost £3 (£2 concession) are available on the door on the night, or in advance from the Byre Box Office, 01334 475000 or  online here.

Earlier on Sunday 7 October, weather permitting, StAnza are holding a special autumn poetry walk. Take in some of the sights and sounds of St Andrews, listen to poems about the season and the natural world. Scheduled to start at 3pm from the Byre Theatre garden, this is a free event – just turn up. For more details email info@stanzapoetry.org

Sporting chances for slammers at St Andrews

9 Oct

MC Harry Giles

Saturday night’s Risk-a-Verse slam at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews had it all: high emotion, lots of laughs, bespoke prizes for the poets and nail-biting drama both on and off-stage.  One poet had come from Amsterdam to take part, three more found themselves stranded on the Forth Road Bridge in a go-slow traffic snarl-up  – would they or wouldn’t they make to the show on time?

Fifteen poets were set to take part in the StAnza/Inky Fingers slam.  Poetry competitions can be as fiercely contested as any, but this one, held as part of this month’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film festival (as well as fitting in with National Poetry Day and its Games theme), was billed as friendly and thanks to MC Harry Giles  (the M is for magnanimous) the fast-moving, electric atmosphere in the Studio Theatre was inspiring. Poets brought up all sorts of subjects: love, sex, anti-depressants, the Coalition Government, supermarkets, men who don’t dance… strong competition indeed and the judges, Sophie Baker and Young Hawkins, descending unashamedly into sporting cliché after the first half, agreed it was ‘all to play for, Harry.’

We were live-tweeting the event and at least one follower was keeping track of the slam while watching the X Factor, but the tensions were rising far higher in St Andrews. The audience had cast their votes, the judges were ready to confer – but would those last three poets make it over the bridge? Yes, following a flurry of texts and ‘where are you now?’ and with seconds to spare, all three arrived, performed their slots and marvelled at their good luck.

More drama as the play-offs started and first –time slammer, Stewart Hogg, emerged as a finalist – good poetry slams are made of such discoveries. Both he and the eventual winner Claire Askew (both pictured) were treated to rapturous applause. All the contestants were awarded prizes to match their poems: fudge for the sweetest poem, a Bart Simpson mug for the scariest, a torch for the flashiest … everyone was a winner.  

Our thanks to all the poets who took part Alec Beattie, Andy Jackson, Claire Askew, Stephen Welsh, Colin McGuire, Douglas John McLean Cairns, Jonny Lovett, Mairi Campbell Jack, Rose Fraser, Rory Woodroffe, Matt Macdonald, Stewart Hogg, Nicola Watt, Robin Smith and Gill Andrews, And of course to the enthusiastic audience.

Risk a verse at the StAnza and Inky Fingers Slam, 8 October

14 Sep

StAnza’s lively poetry slams have become a byword for great entertainment all year round. This autumn, StAnza has teamed up with Inky Fingers, the spoken word collective from Edinburgh, to present the latest of its Risk-A-Verse nights at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews at 7.30pm on 8 October.

Risk-A-Verse is one of a series of creative events being held in Fife during October as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. It’s also a great way for poetry fans to mark National Poetry Day (6 October). Slams are fun, fast and friendly, a chance for everyone to show they have a voice in an entertaining atmosphere. Come along to cheer on the poets, or perform a poem on stage yourself. To sign up for one of the performer’s slots, just email the organisers on director@stanzapoetry.org

Tickets are available from the Byre Theatre 01334 475000. For more about SMHAFF, visit their website: http://www.mhfestival.com/ .

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