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POETS @ STANZA 2020: A SELECTION OF REVIEWS BY DURA ‒ JAY BERNARD

Friday 24 January 2020, 15:28

For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at  https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing. 

Jay Bernard, Surge, reviewed by Beth McDonough 

In 2016, Jay Bernard became writer in residence at the George Padmore Institute, ‘an archive, library and research centre dedicated to radical black history in Britain’.  With a mission to investigate the ‘New Cross Massacre’, and its aftermath, Bernard soon became aware, in those days after the Brexit vote, ‘that the events of the present were eerily similar […]. Then in June 2017, Grenfell happened’, ‘the archive became, for me, a mirror of the present, a much-needed instruction manual[…]’

Bernard’s investigation takes the echoes of both fires, Windrush, and more personally, their own ‘place in Britain as a queer black person’, channelling these major themes through many forms and voices. Surge (the poet’s first full collection, after three pamphlets) in its earlier incarnation as a multimedia performance work, Surge: Side A, won the 2017 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

By any standards, that’s a commanding mix for 53 pages of poetry, which includes various plates. In terms of the enervating response to the recent and not-so-recent historical events, Surge works brilliantly. I’m a little less certain, however, that their exploration of the emergence of their own queer black identity and the painful nature of that identity’s shifting places in that community is so well-served. That is not to say that these poems are not profound, well-structured and stirring, but I feel there is a need for more space to develop this poignant and important theme. It may take another volume to unpack what we need to face in the sometimes false promises of intersectionality, with its myriad tripwires.... [Yet] Bernard's Surge is a testament to courage in the face of overwhelming ruling indifference. In Johnson's Britain, we need to add our voices now

Categories: News

POETS @ STANZA 2020 - A SELECTION OF REVIEWS BY DURA

Tuesday 21 January 2020, 11:39

For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at  https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing. 

Anthony Anaxagorou, After the Formalities, reviewed by Nick Mulgrew 

What makes After the Formalities stand out is its bravery, chiefly in its suggestion that intergenerational trauma may be interrupted– or at least, like a ganglion, lanced. But ganglions have roots, of course, and

Some roots
have been in the earth
for so long
they know only to call themselves earth[.]

(‘Cause’)

The collection is also – if you’ll excuse this further bit of word-based free-association – an earthing. Peppered throughout are poems about – and, save for one, never explicitly for – his son. These genuinely tender and moving slices-of-life hint at the burden of trauma inherited from one’s forebears, and constitute a meditation on how to ensure trauma does not become an heirloom. The poet wants to ‘warn’ his son ‘about getting / attached to things already lost’, while remaining a protective and loving father (‘Things Already Lost’). Perhaps it is necessary to ‘pick cartilage from the ribs of our sorrows’, and perhaps too ‘a microscope’s lens’ is a ‘conceit’ (‘What the Lesser Water Boatman Had to Say’). If he sometimes unsuccessfully experiments with form – throwing things at hand and seeing what sticks – he successfully and more generatively does with approaches to catharsis.

Regardless, Anaxagorou has the ability to write with a grace that suits his smart, often delicate poetics....

Categories: News

Looking ahead!

Monday 20 January 2020, 19:29

There are changes in prospect at StAnza. Eleanor Livingstone, who has been such a brilliant Festival Director, has decided to step down from that post in 2021. So we will be advertising later this year for an Assistant Festival Director to shadow Eleanor during the preparations for the 2021 Festival, and then – always funding permitting! – to step up to the plate as Director for the next festivals.

Naturally we’ll be singing Eleanor’s praises nearer the time of her actual departure. We’re announcing this now because if there’s anyone out there who longs to take the helm at StAnza, then of course they should be planning to come to StAnza 2020. We’re sure anyone with love of poetry festivals will have made their plans to come this year, for the sheer pleasure and professionalism of StAnza. But if you were swithering, and you are looking for a leadership role in a very special sector, this is your signal to go on and book your tickets!

Categories: News

StAnza 2020 Edinburgh Preview Event, 4 February

Wednesday 15 January 2020, 16:20

If you like to have your StAnza programme in paper and ink, the good news is that the StAnza brochure for 2020 is almost ready and packed with exciting listings. We expect to have supplies fresh from the printers at our Edinburgh preview event on 4 February.

Thanks to our generous and welcoming hosts, this preview takes place at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW. This year it's on Tuesday 4 February from 2pm to 3pm, and we’re very grateful to the NLS for their support.

There will be short readings from two of this year’s festival poets, Robert Alan Jamieson and Jay G Ying, plus some music from Alannah Moar who will be playing at the Festival launch in March, as well as a round-up of some of the festival highlights. Rachel Rankin, who is taking part in our Norwegian/Scottish translation project will also offer some translations of poems from Norwegian. It promises to be a delightful hour of entertainment and if you’re in the Edinburgh area, be sure not to miss it. It’s a free event but please book a seat. You can do this online at this link.

And keep watching this space for news of this year's StAnza pre-festival Book Group, coming soon. 

Categories: News

2020!

Tuesday 31 December 2019, 21:30

Artwork by Astrid Jaekel

We hope you are enjoying this holiday season and catching some of the glorious winter sunshine we’ve had here today. As we approach the end of 2019, we’d like to thank you for your continued interest and support in StAnza, without which we couldn’t achieve what we do.

Our box office online bookings begin on Tuesday 14 January. The first ticketed event at StAnza 2020 is on 4th March and the main festival runs from 4th to 8th March, but we are hoping to add in a further eve-of-festival event on 3 March so more information on that soon.

Meantime, we have been adding more events and poets and artists to the online programme since it was launched on 30th November, so do be sure to keep checking for the latest programme news. Further events will be posted over the next week or two. When you're relaxing over the holidays, why not spend some time checking through the core programme, and if you haven't yet booked your accommodation and travel, perhaps now is the time to do so. StayInStAndrews offer a one-stop shop for a huge range of accommodation in town, and advance rail tickets are now on sale for the festival dates.

You may have noticed already that we plan to arrange BSL interpretation or captioning for our Saturday Poetry Centre Stage event and would be happy to arrange this for other events on request. Full information on this can be found here.

We're delighted to be part of Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 programme, which begins tomorrow, and we'll have more information on that shortly. We'll also soon have information about our line-up for our Edinburgh Preview at the National Library of Scotland on 5 February, and about this year's pre-festival Book Group in St Andrews, so watch out for more news on all that's coming up.

Meantime, all that remains for the moment is for us to send you very best wishes for 2020 and to hope that it is kind to us all. There is a wonderful new moon shining in a perfectly clear sky above Fife. Let us hope that’s a good omen. To finish, here is a quote from one of our 2020 poets, Lachlan Mackinnon.

"I sat on a hillside, alone
with the universe, hugging my knees.
The moon looked good, shining down through the trees."

Lachlan Mackinnon From Doves (Faber, 2017)

Happy New Year!

Categories: News

Poetry Map of Scotland, poem no 292

Tuesday 31 December 2019, 15:39

Midnight In Stranraer

Oyster catcher hour
in the midnight port,
delving sleekit through
thick velvet blackcurrant;
phweeps ringing sweetly
through sleepytime streets.

No lime northern lights
to outline the dives
against the skyline.
No splintered doorway
exposing Heaven’s riches;
God flashlit in repose.

Just the lonesome echoes
of a luckless flyer, whose
hopes of a meal are fading
on the grey of the breeze.

Still she eases over
garage, police station,
with a sharp imitation
of a fat, happy constable,
blowing blue faced
on his wornout whistle.

This will be a quiet one,
save for the piper in the sky,
waiting impatient for a catch
in the bask of moonshine.

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
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