Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 291

Sunday 1 December 2019, 10:39

North Berwick Law

The wind gasps, exasperated;
scattering my seaweed curls,
the waves scraping my cheeks,
obscuring endless views so blue,
a map that unfurls on and on.
The guttural gorse scent,
overpowering below, blasted away
by the salted gust that whispers
tales of hermits, wars and prisoners –
histories woven in its midst.
My voice sings out, swallowed instantly,
anonymous and fleeting
in this lyrical landscape –
an uninhabited island forgotten
in a beautiful immensity.

Kirsty A. Niven

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

StAnza 2020 launched!

Saturday 30 November 2019, 17:06

Artwork by Astrid Jaekel

Happy St Andrews Day and greetings from StAnza. I'm delighted to announce that we have launched our core programme for March. You can see it online now at this link. We shall be adding to this over the weeks ahead, so keep watching this space, but I hope you find the core programme as exciting as we do.

As per the last two years, the festival launch will be a free opening night gala offering a taste of what’s to come with poets reading and performing, interspersed with film, music and art from some of the internationally acclaimed poets from Scotland, the UK and overseas coming to St Andrews in March.

This will launch the festival with a line-up including internationally acclaimed poets from all over the world. Among the headline voices performing at next year’s festival are Jen Hadfield, the youngest ever winner of the T S Eliot Prize, American poet, editor and human rights advocate Carolyn Forché, recently shortlisted for the US National Book Awards, D.A. Powell, also from the USA, Anthony Anaxagarou, winner of the 2019 H-100 Award for writing and publishing. They are joined by British writer, artist, film programmer and activist, Jay Bernard, just this week shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize. The festival will also welcome one of Scotland’s best-known crime writers, Fife’s Val McDermid who will share her favourite poems at StAnza’s first ever Desert Island Poems event .

Other poets performing at StAnza include Wendy Cope, Michael Longley, Alec Finlay, Cecile Lǿveid, Mimi Khalvati, Johan Sandberg McGuinne, Gerry Cambridge, Maitreyabandhu, Anna Crowe, Ida Börjel, Maja Langvad, Cecilie Lǿveid, Morten Langeland, Charlotte Van der Broeck, Yolanda Casstaño, Jan Baeke, Pauli Tapio, Lesley Harrison, Juana Adcock and many more. The annual StAnza lecture, Mother, Mother Ocean will be delivered by Matthew Caley.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour. Next year’s themes are Coast Lines and Due North. StAnza will also feature a Nordic language focus, including a Norwegian/Scottish translation workshop and showcase project, and we are very happy to be part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

We will also have a strong Gaelic presence at the festival, including a Gaelic poetry showcase in partnershp with The Gaelic Books Council. Our other showcases this year will be in partnership with Wigtown Poetry Prize and the Edwin Morgan Prize. We also have a diverse and interesting range of past poets featuring in this year’s Past & Present sessions, from the great Norwegian poet Stein Mehren who died recently to Dorothy Wordsworth, Robert Lois Stevenson and “Mrs” Ann Radcliffe of The Mysteries of Udolpho fame.

Once again, the festival presents a dynamic line-up of spoken word and performance poetry, with lively Poetry Café events from Sabrina Mahfouz, Tony Walsh, Birdspeed, Angie Strachan and Colin Bramwell, as well as two poetry shows, The Remains of Logan Dankworth from Luke Wright and Songs My Enemy Taught Me from Joelle Taylor. There will be a range of exciting art exhibitions and installations – including artwork from Astrid Jaekel, Valerie Coffin Price and Tom Humberstone – and all the usual favourites: Border Crossings, Five O’Clock Verses, Poetry Centre Stages.

With around 80 poets taking part in over 100 events at StAnza in St Andrews, it's impossible to mention them all but there is certainly something to suit everyone’s taste. So, come along and join the many poets, musicians, visual artists and filmmakers who'll be bringing the historic Fife town alive with poetry, music and art for five days from 4 to 8 March. Or you can perform your own work at our open mics and the annual StAnza Slam, hosted by Katie Ailes, sign-up for one of our many workshops, or join in the Saturday evening Collective Reading. If after this you need a pick-me-up, stop by The Old Chemist Shop where we’ll have supplies from The Poetry Pharmacy waiting for you.

Start the day with poetry: let coffee, pastries and a provocative panel discussion at our breakfast events ease you into the festival day (join the live webcasts if you can’t be there in person). And if you’re a night owl, late night poetry and music events will keep things lively until midnight. The festival hub at the Byre Theatre is the perfect place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, or to relax with a book and coffee. With its plethora of exhibitions, installations, films and talks about poets and poetry past and present – and the chance to enjoy the wonderful town of St Andrews rich with beaches and walks, ruins and shops – StAnza 2020 offers a multi-layered festival experience with something for everyone. There are too many wonderful poets, artists and musicians taking part to list them all here, so please do check out the website programme.

Tickets will go on sale in January, so you have plenty of time to browse and make choices. However, if you will be travelling to St Andrews, and haven't already booked accommodation, now would be a good time to do so and you might find useful for this.

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 290

Sunday 10 November 2019, 12:45

The Iolaire

After four years of brutal war eager to board the Iolaire
The boat laden with too many homeward sailing for Hogmanay

The fires were bright, their clothes airing food prepared, all for welcoming
In sight of home broken on rocks dragged down by sodden great coats

A wailing began as news came on carts we brought their bodies home
One lost her words, was mute, silenced we could no way be comforted

Religion gave the only grace singing psalms a keening in waves
It is why we are the way we are not easy for the survivors

Homeward sailing for Hogmanay the boat laden with too many
Eager to board the Iolaire after four years of brutal war

Mary Thomson

The Iolaire left Kyle of Lochalsh on 31 December 1918 for Stornoway, carrying naval reservists coming home on New Year's leave or demobbed from the Royal Navy. Early on the morning of 1 January 1919, approaching Stornoway in the dark, she struck the Beasts of Holm and was wrecked, with the loss of some 205 lives; only 75 passengers survived. Some of the words in the poem are the islanders own, taken from the BBC TV documentary “In Sight of Home: The Iolaire”

View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 289

Saturday 2 November 2019, 14:13

Argyll November


The creel boat races before the whitecaps
The wren clings to the skeleton bough
The stars gone from the skies rammed black
Tonight we hear an older world growl
The cattle are come down off the high ground
The paths scoured bare by stiff leaves
The wind hammers through hard from Ireland
Tonight we may know little ease
The broad gusts are outrun by the rainclouds
The waves dissolve the sea to ragged foam
The loch washes up over the shore roads
Tonight we stand together alone
The forked coasts of the unflinching margin
The season remorseless in relentless change
The time for respite in safe harbour
Tonight we are at the end of our range
The haven reached and lone wreck overcome
The shelter shared from the gales and rain
That older world tells us through the trees and stones
Tonight we must put the stars back again.
Peter Russell


View our full map of Scotland in Poems as it grows »

For instructions on how to submit your own poems, click here

All poems from our Poetry Map of Scotland  are subject to copyright and should not be reproduced otherwise without the poet's permission.

Categories: Poetry Map

Book Week Scotland - Celebrate with StAnza at Toppings!

Saturday 26 October 2019, 21:08

Book Week Scotland is an annual celebration of all things bookish. For 2019 it will take place from 18 to 24 November and we're delighted that this year StAnza are partnering Toppings Bookshop in St Andrews on Tuesday 19 November for an evening with the wonderful poet, John Glenday.

He will treat us to an evening of the poems he holds most dear in a celebration of committing poems to memory, and of carrying them through life. In the words of John’s poem, 'The Matchsafe': 'If you must carry fire, carry it in / your heart.'

Toppings Bookshop is at 7 Greyfriars Gardens, St Andrews, KY16 9HG. The event starts at 8pm and doors open at 7.40pm. You can find more information on the event, and a link to booking a seat at the following link:

The Matchsafe, an Evening of Poetry with John Glenday

Categories: News

Wigtown Poetry Prize - the Winners!

Monday 14 October 2019, 20:25

(c) Ruairi / Wigtown Book Festival

Last weekend StAnza was at Wigtown Book Festival enjoying various events as well as a wonderful evening at their Poetry Awards at Bladnoch Distillery. Congratulations again to the winners:

• Wigtown Prize: Mhairi Owens (winner), Claudia Daventry (runner up)
• Wigtown Scottish Gaelic Prize: Daibhidh Eyre (winner), Marcas Mac an Tuairneir (runner up).
• Wigtown Scots Prize: Dorothy Lawrenson (winner), Robert Duncan (runner up).
• Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award: Clare Phillips (winner)
• Alastair Reid Pamphlet Prize: Beverley Bie Brahic (winner)

In local festival news, a reminder that the St Andrews Voices Festival runs from 17-20 October. Celebrating all that the human voice has to offer from jazz, folk, opera, choral, lieder to family events, it’s one not to miss!


Categories: News
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