Tag Archives: StAnza

Just StAnza in Edinburgh this month

8 Aug
StAnza photo by Jacqueline Skelton

StAnza photograph by Jacqueline Skelton

We’re delighted that the Just Festival asked us to curate three poetry events for them this month in Edinburgh. The three events will be on Tuesdays 11th, 18th and 25th August, all 4pm to 5pm.

Eighteen years ago several Scottish poets got together to create annual StAnza festival, now a major annual international event. This series of three events at the Just Festival turns the spotlight 180° to focus on StAnza itself and some of the poets behind the festival’s success, as well as featuring short tasters of some poetry projects. Full details of each of the events are below. They take place in Edinburgh Fringe Venue 127, St John’s Church Hall, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 4BJ. Tickets are £5 and can be bought online at online here.

Tuesday 11th August, 4pm-5pm:  The current chair of StAnza’s Board of Trustees and himself a well-known and well published Scottish poet Colin Will will read with Jenny Elliott whose poetry pamphlets have been shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Award in both 2014 and 2015, and Peter Jarvis whose first collection was published by HappenStance Press earlier this year. We’re also delighted that they’ll be joined by several poets who have contributed to StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland who will each read their poem from the map, including Charlotte Stirling, Elspeth Brown, Julie Hogg, Donald Adamson and Alwyn Marriage. This is an ongoing project but you can view the current version of the map at https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/poetry-map-of-scotland/.

Tuesday 18th August, 4pm-5pm: The Co-Founder of StAnza and our first Festival Director, Brian Johnstone heads the list of poets reading at this event, where he’ll be joined by two StAnza colleagues, Julia Prescott and Robin MacKenzie. We’re also delighted that they’ll be joined by several poets who have contributed to StAnza’s Poetry Map of Scotland who will each read their poem from the map, including Adam V. Cheshire, Colin Bartie, Peter Kerr, Keith Parker and  Elizabeth Rimmer. This is an ongoing project but you can view the current version of the map at https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/poetry-map-of-scotland/.

Tuesday 25th August, 4pm-5pm: Anna Crowe, one of the StAnza founders and now an Honorary President, is an internationally renowned poet and translator. She reads with the prize winning poet Claudia Daventry and Andy Jackson, poet and editor of the successful anthologies of poems about popular culture, Split Screen and Double Bill. And joining them, Carolyn Richardson, Matthew Macdonald, Nancy Somerville, Morgan Downie, Ruth Aylett and Michael Scott, contributors to the Double Bill anthology to read a selection of poems from it.

So if you are in Edinburgh this month, do come along to one of our events, we’ll be delighted to see you.

Win: Become the Wild-Card StAnza Slam Judge for 2015

6 Mar

Elvis McGonagall is set to host the StAnza Slam this Saturday evening. The stakes will be high: the winner of tomorrow’s event will go on to compete in the Scottish National Slam and from there, if they play their poems right, to the World Slam Championships in Paris.

StAnza heads will remember 2013’s winner, St Andrews’s student Carly Brown, who made it all the way to Paris – the youngest woman ever to do so from Scotland!

It happened then, and it could happen again – the World Slam title beckons, and the StAnza stage might just be the trampoline that launches a talented poet into the global series…

Now the StAnza slam is traditionally judged by three literary luminaries, but this year we’re going to shake things up a little.

Joining the programmed panel of two will be a Third Judge, a Wild-Card Judge, an Audience-Member-Who-Got-Powerful Judge, a You-Could-Win-This-Competition-and-Become-This-Judge.

Because when the stakes are high you want to make sure there’s an element of terrifying randomness. We can’t have the poets resting easy, after all.

If you would like to the this year’s Third Judge, and will be in St Andrews on Saturday evening ready to take the stage and vote like your life depends on it, then all you have to do is write a poem that fits in a tweet with the hashtag #StAnza15 (twoem, poeet?), responding to one of the events or themes of the festival: Archipelago or Unfinished Business.

The deadline to tweet your entry is 17:06 on Saturday. We’ll be RTing your entries all day 🙂

Tweet well, friends, and I’ll hope to see you all at the Slam!

StAnza Turns 18, Contemplates Mortality

5 Mar

“We’re all going to die, so we might as well enjoy this week of poetry, art and music while we can!” So said Clive Russell (AKA The Blackfish in Game of Thrones) as he cut the metaphorical red ribbon on #StAnza15—the eighteenth yearly StAnza festival, no less!

Words to live by, I’d say. Now we’re 18, we’re old enough to go clubbing, read 18-rated poetry, and even vote in the upcoming general election. Now is the time to explore new things, and there’s truly something new and exciting for everyone coming up this week in St Andrews.

Short readings from Glyn Maxwell, Sheenagh Pugh and Shara McCallum at the launch party set the tone, and are a forewarning of extreme variety, for the poetry this year. I was particularly moved by Shara McCallum’s evocation of her childhood, “where violence and beauty still lie down together, city of my birth”—this is Kingston, Jamaica—and I’m looking forward to her reading today at 11:30 in the Town Hall.

Our launching evening event last night was the enthralling Bedazzled – A Welshman in New York. But which Welshman in New York? I hear you cry. Dylan Thomas, of course, of set fire to the stars fame.

Ben Gwalchmai and the Bedazzled Company took over the Byre and transformed it into a New York poet’s dive, replete with a working bar and large amounts of real and stage whisky—served with ice to “take the edge off.” The word “immersive” here is quite literal, as the audience was invited to interact with the cast of six literary figures including e e cummings, Maya Deren and Allen Ginsberg. Much amusement was to be had over at my table by my iPad camera. It’s not exactly period appropriate!



The play itself took place in and among the audience on cabaret seating onstage, with subtle yet effective projections and sound design evoking New York, Swansea, and the various boozy poetic dives therein. Imaginary and real encounters between Dylan and literary figures of the day, from a satirical poet off between cummings and Thomas to a fist fight between young Thomas and old Thomas!—swirled together, culminating in a euphoric dance sequence (no really) and Thomas’s inevitable demise, raging against the dying of the light.

It was a fittingly boozy bang to kick off StAnza this year, celebrating our newly-minded ID for alcohol purchasing and tying in with our theme of Unfinished Business. We’re all going to die, after all, so let’s cram in those stanzas and StAnzas while we still have time.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem 72: Speymouth

18 Oct

Speymouth Dawn

Between the star glazed opacity of night
And the dazzling drift of a deep blue day
The sea and sun embrace
In lovers’ fluent languor
In not long now this seed will burst
On tendrils of gold
To flower to day
At the mouths of the River Spey
Change-full choirs chant
Surf on shingle sliding
Interval shifts minutely gliding
From harmony to dissonance
Somewhere in the key of D (?)
The whole symphonic bay
In constantly impermanent refrain
When the tide comes in like that
Persuaded by a Moray Firth dawn
A fisher’s daughter
As aquiline, as fine, as osprey
Risen from her sleep of eagles
Pausing at the kale yard wall,
Sings out her strong and clear sustain
To an ocean of whale-song
And the triples and trills of terns
See:
A small pod of dolphins
Working in unison
Six slick dorsals
Rising and falling
In a closing loop
Herding the red fish
To a cradling shallow
Where the surface breaks
Then, mercurial, boils
With a panic
Of salmon
Leaping to nothing –
No breaking loose
From the leisurely beaks
Of the bottle-nosed noose
In the rivers rush
On a sand bar oasis
A seal pup waits
With the stillness of youth
For the silver flashing
And saline fruit
Of a returning mother’s
Own salmon pursuit
On a west bank litter of sand and stone:
Slow worm and adder bask in the sun
Dragon flies dance their right angled turns
Broom thickets’ fly speckled haunting yellows
And out in the bay a bull seal bellows.

John Mackie

Part of this poem is carved into a sculpture in The Harbour Garden at The Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay.

To view our map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map of Scotland and on the StAnza Blog are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet’s permission.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem 71: Aberfoyle

17 Oct

The Fall of Water

written at the Little Fawn Waterfall, The Duke’s Pass, Aberfoyle

The lithe leap the river makes
demands its own vocabulary
as ballet does – technical, evolved, exact –
to match its lacy, poised deliberation:
grand jetée,

failli,

sauté de chat.

Rocks heaped in the rift,
frayed and grained by its passage –
a mouthful of teeth, with splintered branches
caught between grinding edges.
Some are weathered like knuckle-bones,
others patted to a fat-buttock roundness,
one a perfect ogee, like the keel of a boat.

In the dapples of the trees a dust-brown moth
abseils down the reveal of sunlight and is lost
among bracken, the stealth of birds
and the sleepy conversation
of water slipping between stones.

Elizabeth Rimmer

To view our map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map of Scotland and on the StAnza Blog are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet’s permission.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem 70: Scourie Bay

16 Oct

Croft at Scourie Bay

In stone the colour of an unwashed fleece,
two small square windows and a low door
reflect a slanted light, all they get here,
where clouds forever jostle for position.

Twin stacks, like bookends, hold the rows of slate;
each black leaf wiped by many readings of the rain.
That rain still writes its own cold code upon the hills –
a cipher with a million years’ refinement.

There are few who try to break it,
who test their keys to this stiff lock of land.
They turn the sheep with heavy-pelted collies,
hoping for a clue among the patterns of their flocks.

Simon Williams

Published in A Weight of Small Things (Lincolnshire and Humberside Arts, 1981)

To view our map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map of Scotland and on the StAnza Blog are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet’s permission.

Poetry Map of Scotland poem 69: Anstruther

15 Oct

Pearl

In South Island seas, Brander’s fortune was founded
Trading coconuts by the million, and black pearls
Filled the ships that sailed the mighty seas, he sent
Exotic goods so favoured by Europe from the Pacific
Pearl-shell for the swanky houses of Paris he gave
The pearl culture enhanced the treasures of the rich.

Tetuanui i reia i te Raiatea, her very name a song
The fourteen year old Tahitian Princess stole his heart,
Cut off from the aquamarine waters of her birth.
A woman of substance she bore him nine children,
An esteemed socialite, her parties were legion
The first lady of Tahiti, did Scotland proud.

On Brander’s death Anstruther gained the princess
In a tiny fishing village in Fife, she flourished
Married again she mothered three more children.
She lies buried in the parish churchyard faraway
From the turquoise lagoons, a paradise on earth
That Gauguin chose to paint in vibrant colours.

Leela Soma

To view our map of Scotland in Poems as it grows, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-map-revealed/ . For more information on this project, and on how to submit a poem, see https://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/mapping-scotland-in-poetry/.

All poems on our poetry map of Scotland and on the StAnza Blog are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet’s permission.

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