Tag Archives: W N Herbert

A date to note for 2014

1 Jan

Tanya Shirley

Tanya Shirley


Happy New Year! Now 2014 is with us, here’s an early date for this year’s diary. Tickets for StAnza 2014 will go on public sale next week on Friday 10th January. For full details, check our website at http://www.stanzapoetry.org and before you draw up your own StAnza schedule, be sure to note several updates to the programme with new events and participants just added, including the poet W. N. Herbert and King Creosote of Fence Records.

First of all, we’ve several additions to the programme for Friday 7th March.

At 10.30am, Tanya Shirley will tutor a workshop on “Pop Story Gi Mi: The Art of Narrative Poetry”. Later that day the poet W. N. Herbert will join Tanya Shirley for the Five O’Clock Verses reading at 5.00pm in Parliament Hall.

On the Friday afternoon at 3.30pm, we’re delighted to be collaborating with the University of St Andrews Library on their first Poetry Aloud competition, in which students will compete for a prize for best recitation or performance of a published poem.

In another innovation for 2014, for the first time we will also have a poetry coach in residence at the festival. Philippa Johnston will be available to book for 90 minute individual sessions. And for our final night party to play out the festival, King Creosote will be making his first appearance at StAnza.

Full details of all these new events can be found online at http://www.stanzapoetry.org, and keep watching this space for more updates on ticket sales.

Split Screen – Do Not Adjust Your Set!

12 Mar

Guest blogger Andy Jackson explains how his new anthology, inspired by cult film and TV, came about. It’s being launched at StAnza and promises to be an entertaining event. Where else would Callan meet The Clangers in verse?

Poetry habitually takes its inspiration from the great themes – love, loss, beauty, the human condition. All noble concepts, but sometimes you just want to write about the silly fripperies of life that please and excite you. Dancing. Chocolate. Uma Thurman. Yet, somehow, unless your poem reaches for some deeper ideas that address the spirituality of chocolate or the universal language of dancing, you sometimes feel you’ve written about…well, nothing of much importance.

I was born in the 1960s, and I therefore grew up knowing the presenters of Blue Peter (in order), the names of the crew of the Trumpton Fire Engine and all the words to all the songs in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I should have been out playing in the dubious Manchester sunshine, but I was usually glued to the box or fidgeting in the darkness of my local single-screen cinema.

About eighteen months ago I observed a conversation on Facebook between Salt Publishing’s Chris Hamilton-Emery and Yorkshire’s suavest poet Tim Turnbull, who challenged each other to write a short poem about a cult TV programme of the 60s or 70s. Chris chose US series Mission Impossible while Tim went for Lew Grade’s espionage thriller The Champions. This was the kind of poetry I’d been writing in my own head since childhood, but here were two fearless and savvy writers who weren’t afraid to publish their poetry on these most populist of topics. And I mean proper poetry!

I felt there must be more poets out there who longed to write about the TV or the movies they loved, so after discussion with Red Squirrel’s Kevin Cadwallender, the idea for Split Screen was born.

I drew up a list of sixty themes, pairing up the likes of Camberwick Green with the Clangers, Ealing Comedy with Bollywood and Walmington-on-Sea with Weatherfield. I invited poets I knew and respected to pick a theme on which to write a poem of up to 30 lines. Word travelled around and I found poets contacting me asking, and occasionally pleading, to have a go, even suggesting their own themes in some cases. The resulting poems from the likes of Ian McMillan, George Szirtes, W N Herbert and Annie Freud were as diverse they were entertaining.

To keep with the TV & movie theme, I decided that we could punctuate the book with short poems inspired by adverts included as ‘commercial breaks’. This part of the book was an open section, and I selected 10 advert poems from the 50 or so which I received. Add to this a couple of poems at the end about the Closedown and the White Dot, and you have Split Screen – poems inspired by film and television.

Split Screen will be launched with a multimedia reading on the Sunday afternoon of this year’s StAnza festival, with a stellar cast of poets (and some reading in public for the first time). Compiling and editing it has been the most fun I’ve had in poetry. Why not come along on Sunday 18th March at 2.15pm and listen to poetry that unashamedly wears its cultural influences on its sleeve.

Our thanks to Andy Jackson: http://www.soutarwriters.co.uk/andyjackson/

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