Tag Archives: Stanza 2014

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.

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Mapping Scotland in Poetry

4 Jul
Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

Colin Will as host: photograph by Helena Fornells Nadad

We all know poems about Scotland but can the shape and nature of Scotland be drawn entirely in poetry? StAnza has set itself the challenge to see if this is the case. This year at StAnza 2014 we launched our project for the Year of Homecoming Scotland to map Scotland in Poetry. It began with a great fanfare, and unveiled at the event was our specially designed extremely non-digital map to serve our purpose.

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Colin with the map, Lindsay Macgregor with the poem: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

The launch was an open event so before the festival we invited people to contact us proposing poems which had a specific Scottish location. We had a fine response from a wide range of people offering to read either one of their own poems, or a poem by a friend, or occasionally an older poem out of copyright, so we were spoiled for choice.

On the day, Colin Will and Andy Jackson delivered a wonderful double act hosting the event with wit and charm, Andy taking care of introductions and Colin in charge of the map pins. Surprise contributions included an appearance by Fife’s Provost, Jim Leishman, resplendent in his chains of office, who read one of his own poems set in Glasgow, and two digital contributions Skyped in from a couple of faces familiar to StAnza regulars, at the end of an internet connection in Ross-shire and Assynt.

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Mandy Haggith: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Other readers included some of this year’s festival participants, some of the StAnza team, and a host of other poets. Judith Taylor brought the launch to an upbeat conclusion with a poetic tribute to her home town, “Moments in the Great History of Coupar Angus”.

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Judith Taylor: photo by Helena Fornells Nadal

Others who read include: Nalini Paul, Eveline Pye, Ian Blyth, Peter Jarvis, Angela Topping, Lindsay Macgregor, Lorna Carruth, Diana Lewis, Ellen McAteer, Lyn Moir, Mandy Haggith and Roderick Manson.

And now it’s time to continue the mapping exercise. We invite submissions of poems which have a specific Scottish location, whether named in the poem or not, and we’ll post a selection of these on our Blog and place a pin for each of them on our map. We hope eventually to have a map completely covered in pins from coast to coast, from north to south, east to west, highlands, borders, towns, cities, villages, mountains, lochs and rivers, beaches, firths and islands, rocks and reservoirs. If you’d like to contribute to this project, here are the details.

Please email us a copy of your proposed poem with a note of its location with enough detail on that for us to pin it on the map, and the name of the poet. In your email please confirm either that it is your own poem and you grant us permission to post it on this Blog, or that you have permission from the poet or publisher, or that the poem is out of copyright (copyright lasts until 70 years after the poet’s death, or the date of first publication of the poem, whichever is the later).

And at the end of the project, we’ll publish a full list of the poems submitted and photographs of the full map. At least we hope it will be a full map, but we need your help with that. So please send your poems to info@stanzapoetry.org, preferably pasted into the body of your email, and at this stage, no more than one poem per poet/submission, thanks.

Beautiful but Deadly

20 Apr
Reproduced courtesy of the University of St Andrews

Reproduced courtesy of the University of St Andrews

This year at StAnza we collaborated with MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) on an installation featuring artefacts from Commonwealth countries held by the museum and poems about them commissioned by StAnza specially for the festival. The poems and images of artefacts in ‘A Common Wealth of Artefacts’ were projected in the Byre foyers during the festival and at the same time MUSA posted them on their blog. We are pleased now to be re-posting these articles on the StAnza Blog, and here is the second of them featuring a poem by Kiri Piahana-Wong, who is a New Zealander of Māori (Ngāti Ranginui), Chinese and English ancestry. She is a poet, editor and publisher whose first poetry collection, Night Swimming (Anahera Press), was published in 2013.

Museum Collections Blog

Today’s object is a type of stone club called a patu onewa used by New Zealand Māori in hand-to hand combat.

Patu Onewa Patu Onewa

Inter-tribal warfare was common in New Zealand in the early 19th century, but before Europeans arrived, Maori did not use projectile weapons, such as bows and arrows. Instead, patu were used, with a thrusting motion to attack the enemy’s upper body, or to finish off an enemy with a downward blow to the head.
Patu onewa were usually made from a hard volcanic rock such as basalt, through a painstaking process of hammering, grinding and polishing until they were perfectly finished, resulting in a beautiful but deadly object. You can see here that the club handle has been perforated to accommodate a wrist strap for the warrior.

Our example dates from the 19th century and was donated to the University by the Reverend John Thomson around that…

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Weaving a poem

27 Mar

Canadian Birch Basket This year at StAnza we collaborated with MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) on an installation featuring artefacts from Commonwealth countries held by the museum and poems about them commissioned by StAnza specially for the festival. The poems and images of artefacts in ‘A Common Wealth of Artefacts’ were projected in the Byre foyers during the festival and at the same time MUSA posted them on their blog. We are pleased now to be re-posting these articles on the StAnza Blog, and here’s the first of them by Chris Gilpin from Canada and Gale Burns from London (but Canada originally). You can also hear Chris reading his poem online at https://soundcloud.com/stanzapoetry/birch-basket-behind-glass-by

Museum Collections Blog

Somehow it’s already the start of March, and in St Andrews that means one thing: StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is here, bringing with it the creative buzz of literary folks in town. This year, the festival has two overriding themes, ‘A Common Wealth of Poetry’ and ‘Words under Fire’ (or to you and me, the commonwealth games and war, which some may argue are not unrelated… think All Blacks and the Haka!).

As in previous years, MUSA is hosting a number of events, including Wednesday’s creative writing workshop, with Jenny Lewis, ‘Voicing the Past: Their Wars, Your Words’ and short ‘Musings’ sessions at 1pm each day, which will hopefully inspire personal and original responses to selected artefacts on display at the museum. Last but not least, MUSA has been working with StAnza to ‘connect’ some of our so-called ‘ethnographic’ artefacts from Commonwealth countries with contemporary poets representing those same…

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A Guide to Online Events at #StAnza14

27 Feb

Photo by Iain GrayStAnza calls St Andrews its home, but it likes to get out of the house now and again – exercise keeps you young after all – so this year there will a record number of webcasts of StAnza events as well as the usual Twitter shenanigans. (Though we’re trying to avoid a repeat of the Bill Herbert banana incident.) You’ll find a run-down of the four online events below, as well as links to follow at the right time to watch the show.

As always, the social-media monkeys will be following #StAnza14 and @stanzapoetry during the event so you will be able to ask questions and make comments to the panellists. Attendees in person receive coffee and Fisher & Donaldson pastries, so we recommend online viewers stock up before logging in in case you get jealous during the show. Questions about the refreshments will not be passed on unless unusually witty. That is not a challenge.

Poetry Café for Breakfast: War & Remembrance (Friday 7th March, 10.00-11.00am GMT)

“Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, / As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.” (Wilfred Owen, ‘Dolce et decorum est’)

The war poets are among the most famous and respected writers in history, but what role does poetry play in modern warfare? Panellists David Constantine, Richie McCaffery, Dan O’Brien and SMSteele will discuss this and other questions about war poetry for Friday’s breakfast panel.

Poetry Café for Breakfast: Home Thoughts (Saturday 8th March, 10.00-11.00am GMT)

Tishani Doshi, Gabeba Baderoon, Martin Bates, Sophia Walker and Rob A. Mackenzie are all poets who, in one way or another, have had they feeling they’re not in Kansas any more. Join them as they talk about how moving home has affected their writing and what, after their experiences, home means to them now.

Poetry Café for Breakfast: Means & Ends in Poetry Translation (Sunday 9th March, 10.00-11.00am GMT)

“Tu proverai sì come sa di sale / lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle / lo scendere e ‘l salir per l’altrui scale.” (Dante Alighieri. “You’ll prove how bitter another man’s bread tastes, and how hard it is to climb up and down another man’s stairs.”)

Poetry translation is a notoriously difficult activity, but a rather interesting one to discuss. Panellists Menna Elfyn, Tomica Bajsić, Arjen Duinker and Marco Fazzini explore aspects of moving poems between languages, drawing on their knowledge of translation into and out of Dutch, Croatian, Italian and Welsh.

A Poetry Tour of Scotland (Sunday 9th March, 3.30-4.30pm GMT)

This event kickstarts StAnza’s poetry map of Scotland project, part of the year of Homecoming Scotland. Poems about a specific location in Scotland will be read and then pinned onto the map – which will be available online as well as in person. The map will continue to be updated throughout spring and summer, eventually forming (we hope!) a comprehensive description of Scotland through poetry.

The Bill Herbert bananas

The SPL at StAnza 2014

21 Feb

JL WilliamsEach year StAnza collaborates in ways big and small with the Scottish Poetry Library, this year with the appearance at StAnza of Tanya Shirley. Jennifer Williams, the SPL Programme Manager, shares her thoughts about StAnza 2014.

I so enjoyed the StAnza Preview at tell it slant Poetry Bookshop in Glasgow on 6 February. (http://tellitslantbooks.com/2014/01/21/stanza-glasgow-2014-preview-mirrorball-seamus-heaney-event/)

What a pleasure to find myself at a delightful poetry bookshop, packed with people (standing room only by the time I got there) eating beautiful food from the café, drinking wine and chatting up a word storm, surrounded by shelves of poetry books and magazines. tell it slant is ‘popped-down’ for the moment but hopefully soon to return as a permanent fixture in Glasgow.

I love StAnza previews because they always seem to have the buzz about them that makes StAnza so delicious – full of poets and poetry lovers, everyone in a jolly frame of mind and talking about what they’re looking forward to and what they’re loving in the poetry world. This event was just as fabulous, with readings from SBT New Writers Award winner Kathrine Sowerby, poet Alexander Hutchison on WWI poet David Jones and Colin McGuire wringing peals of laughter from the delighted crowd.

Less than 30 minutes in total, it was a tantalising taster of what’s to come, and boy is the menu packed for the three days I’ll be in St Andrew’s in early March.

I’ll be doing podcast interviews with StAnza readers Sujata Bhatt and Brian Turner, catching as many events as I can fit in and catching up with as many folks as I can. The SPL will have a table brimming with Poetry Readers and poetry postcards for everyone to pick up and enjoy, and if it’s not quite as snowy as last year I might even make it down to the beach for an invigorating walk (though perhaps not a dip!). I can’t wait to hear our Commonwealth United Poets visitor Tanya Shirley in action (http://commonwealthpoetsunited.com/2014/01/30/commonwealth-poets-united/) and Ron Silliman, John Burnside, Tishani Doshi, Rob A Mackenzie, Richie McCaffery, the wonderful Tomica Bajsić who I met at the 2013 Berlin Poesiefestival… the list goes on.

When I first came to Scotland years ago I ventured to StAnza on my own, knowing no one in St Andrew’s and hardly anyone in Scotland; just for one day, just to see one poet – David Constantine. I was so awed by the reading he gave that I came home and wrote him an admiring letter, to which, to my surprise, he generously responded. I treasure that letter, his poems and his stories and it feels like a fabulous circle has swung round to connect itself, with me heading to StAnza this year to see David Constantine again – but with a few more friendly faces to say hello to this time. Hope to see you there and do come and tell me all about what it is you’re reading, writing and loving this year.

Jennifer Williams, Programme Manager
Scottish Poetry Library, February 2014

You can follow the SPL blog at http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/connect/blog

Douglas Dunn In Conversation at StAnza

4 Feb

Dunn Douglas_ This year’s festival is launched four weeks from tomorrow. The printed brochure is now published so watch out for copies appearing in all the usual locations. However if you’d like us to post you one free of charge, just send us an email on brochure@stanzapoetry.org. Or if you’re in the Glasgow area, you can pick up a copy on Thursday 6 February, at our free Glasgow Preview event at Tell it Slant poetry bookshop, 134 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, 6.30pm-7.00pm, part of an evening of poetry from St Mungo’s Mirrorball, followed at 7.30pm at the Arts Club by Bernard MacLaverty remembering Seamus Heaney.

We’ve meantime added another eleven events to this year’s programme for 5-9 March. The Saturday In Conversation will feature Douglas Dunn, recently awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal, talking about a life in poetry with Peggy Hughes, his former student and now programme director for the Dundee Literary Festival. And check out a further ten installations and exhibitions on our online programme at http://www.stanzapoetry.org.

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