StAnza: The Organisation

Image of theatre building at night, outside looking in.

David Vallis Photography

StAnza's mission is to celebrate poetry, to bring poetry to audiences and to enable encounters with poetry. The organisation works all year round to deliver poetry events and projects in Scotland and beyond.

StAnza’s main focus is our annual festival in St Andrews each spring. Now recognised as one of the leading poetry festivals in the UK and Europe, StAnza has over the years featured a strong list of contemporary poets from within Scotland and also from across the UK and the rest of the world. StAnza has brought a range of major poets to the festival, commissioned art works from leading artists, featured both past and present Poet Laureates, and has showcased poets from over 50 countries worldwide.

Drawing by Jenny Soep from StAnza 2008 programme

StAnza also actively promotes readings in foreign or minority languages and has featured poets reading in many of the national languages of Europe, as well as in regional languages and dialects. We regularly include Gaelic and Scots language poets.

StAnza is very much a cross-arts festival with poetry at its core. As well as readings, the festival features performances, in conversations, an annual lecture, workshops and masterclasses, films and video projections, children’s events, stand-up sessions and a range of exhibitions and installations. Music, drama, comedy, dance, contemporary circus and regular digital events have all played a part in the festival in recent years. Full lists of all previous festival participants can be seen in the past participants section of the site archives, at the Previously at StAnza page.

The StAnza festival was conceived in 1997 by three St Andrews-based poets, Brian Johnstone, Anna Crowe and Gavin Bowd, the first two of whom continue to be involved in the organisation. The first festival was launched on National Poetry Day in 1998. StAnza continued to take place each October until its relaunch as a spring festival in 2003, from which time it has been held annually in March. All previous festival programmes can be seen in the past programmes section of the site archives.

'Tools of the Trade' book and headphones, as part of audio-installation

Helena Fornells

The festival highlights over the years have been many and varied, from Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s appearances in 1998 and 2010 to our contemporary project, the digital Poetry Map of Scotland. In 2007 we celebrated ten years of StAnza with our 100 Poets Gathering; and our 2009's Distant Voices virtual festival webcast to 68 countries was a world first. As part of our participation in Homecoming Scotland 2009, the festival was launched by then First Minister Alex Salmond, leading to the festival being shortlisted for a Scottish Thistle Award.

StAnza’s spring festival has now grown to be recognised as the major poetry event in Scotland, attracting audiences from across the country and beyond. It is one of the principal poetry festivals with a nationwide reputation operating in the UK and has been recognised as a major European festival of poetry through its involvement with the international poetry festivals’ network based in Berlin. StAnza is also a founder member of Bookfestival Scotland, the professional association of Scottish literary festivals established in 2009.
StAnza also delivers schools and community workshops and projects throughout the year, as well as stand-alone events in St Andrews and elsewhere, and multiple digital projects.

Frisian and Scots poetry installed on a mirror in the theatre foyers, in which the reflections of people can also be seen

Frisian and Scots poetry at StAnza 2018: David Vallis photography

Organisational developments saw StAnza becoming a registered charity in 2001. In 2003 the organisation was reformed as a charitable company limited by guarantee under a board of trustees to whom the paid officials—the Festival Director, Artistic Director and Press & Media Manager—were directly responsible. In 2010 the staffing of StAnza was restructured with the appointment of the current Festival Director who is now supported by a Press & Media Manager, Programme Co-ordinator and Education Co-ordinator, and from 2010 StAnza developed a year round programme of schools, community and public events and projects. StAnza is an Inland Revenue recognised charity.

The festival is put together by the Festival Director and Programme Co-ordinator supported by a planning committee formed of volunteers drawn from the local, student and academic communities who help to plan, organise and develop the programme, meeting throughout the year and chaired by the Festival Director. The committee is supported by various voluntary educational, legal and financial advisors.

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StAnza funding, from the festival's inception in 1998, has been received principally from the Scottish Arts Council and their successor agency, Creative Scotland. This has increased steadily over the years. Regular funding contributions have been received from Fife Council and, since 2003, from various sections of The University of St Andrews. StAnza received funding to contribute in 2009 to Homecoming Scotland, and thereafter received funding from EventScotland. The festival is, however, fully independent of all of these organisations.

StAnza: The People

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone
speaks at a Festival Launch
Photo: Al Buntin

Festival Director: Eleanor Livingstone

Press & Media Manager: Louise Robertson

Programme Co-ordinator: Annie Rutherford

Eleanor Livingstone has worked for StAnza since 2005. She has a background in legal work and as a creative writing tutor. She is also a poet, editor and reviewer.

Annie Rutherford

Programme Co-ordinator: Annie Rutherford
Photo: Perry Jonsson

Annie Rutherford is the editor of Far Off Places and the co-founder of the Poetree Festival in Göttingen. She also writes and is the translator for German poet Nora Gomringer.

Louise Robertson is with the communications company, Message Matters. She studied tourism management and journalist at Napier University. She has worked in broadcast journalism and PR work since 2001, including work for other festivals and as Head of Public Affairs for an animal welfare charity.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP
Professor Douglas Dunn
Professor Kathleen Jamie
Billy Kay

Honorary Presidents:
Anna Crowe
Brian Johnstone


Drew Clegg (Secretary): Joined StAnza Board in 2003; Chair 2004-6, during which StAnza gained charitable status as a limited company. Retired as Managing Director of Errol Developments Ltd, a brick production company, in 2005.

Anna Crowe: In 1998, Brian Johnstone, Gavin Bowd and Anna Crowe sat down and decided that a poetry festival in St Andrews should be international and Scottish, promote a love of poetry in children and embrace other arts. Poet and translator, Anna was Artistic Director of StAnza for 7 years.

Dr Kate Hendry: joined the StAnza Board in 2018. Kate teaches English; previously in prisons, further and higher education, currently in a secondary school. She was reader-in-residence at the NLS and reading group facilitator at the Scottish Poetry Library. She has co-edited three SPL anthologies: for prisoners, doctors and teachers. Her own poetry is published by Happenstance Press.

Maureen Jack: Joined the StAnza Board in 2005. A retired educational psychologist, she brings to the StAnza Board experience in charity governance and as a senior manager in the public sector.

Dr Tom Jones: Joined StAnza Board in 2010. Lecturer in the School of English, St Andrews University; teaches eighteenth-century poetry, fiction and philosophy, as well as poetic theory and practice across a broader historical range.

Dr Robyn Marsack, FRSE (Chair): Joined StAnza Board 2017. Publishers’ editor, translator and critic, she was Director of the Scottish Poetry Library 2000-2016. Currently Member of the Board of Directors of Carcanet Press, Forward Arts Foundation, Edwin Morgan Trust.

Shona Munro: Joined StAnza Board 2007. Co-Director then Director of Edinburgh International Book Festival, 1987-95. Previously an educational psychologist. Trustee of Life Changes Trust.

Kathryn Ross: Joined StAnza Board in 2015. Partner in Fraser Ross Associates Literary Agency and co-administrator of the Pushkin Prizes in Scotland and the Young Walter Scott Prize creative writing awards for young people. She was deputy director of Scottish Book Trust from 1991 to 2002, and previously a teacher of English.

Amina Shah is Assistant Director (User Services & Engagement), St Andrews University Library, and was previously Director of Programme at Scottish Book Trust. A former CEO of the Scottish Library and Information Council, she led on the development of the first National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland. Amina is a Visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University's School of Cultural and Creative Business and a Trustee of the National Library of Scotland.

Bob Steel (Treasurer): Joined StAnza Board in 2014. Retired chartered accountant and former managing partner at Henderson Loggie CA.



Margaret Jarvis (Committee Secretary)
Jean Johnstone (Exhibitions Advisor)
Andy Jackson (Programme Assistant)
Robin MacKenzie (Distribution)
Peter Jarvis (Distribution)
Kathleen Gray (Workshops Officer)
Jim Carruth (Artistic Advisor)
Colm Lyons (Legal Advisor)
Jenny Elliott (Exhibitions)
Julia Prescott (Exhibitions)
Colin Mackay (Accommodation)
Brian Johnstone
Claudia Daventry
Barbara Davey
Helen Nicholson
Rupert Crisswell
Alan Gay
Wendy Orr
Katherine Bone
Mercedes Weidmer
Gabriela Milkova
Catriona Aitken
Alexandra Rego
Violet Chaudoir
Lily Clarke
Rachel Wells
Annie Leverton
Michael Grieve

StAnza - Scotland's Poetry Festival - is a private company limited by guarantee and registered under the Companies Acts (Registered No. SC253342). Recognised by the Inland Revenue as a Scottish Charity (Charity No. SC 031789). StAnza is a fully independent festival funded by Creative Scotland, with contributions from Fife Council and the University of St Andrews.