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StAnza's Edinburgh Fest Poetry List, 2017 (I)

Monday 24 July 2017, 21:10

As promised, we’re happy to list any poetry related events happening in Edinburgh in August, and here are first details sent to us. Do keep them coming, and once we get into August and everything kicks off, please do also send in your reviews, all to stanza@stanzapoetry.org.

Umbrellas of Edinburgh (Russell Jones, Claire Askew, Jane Yolen, Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Harry Giles and Finola Scott)

Venue : Bosco Theatre

Time and Dates: 17 August, 12:30-13:30

Ticket price/free: £12/£10

Get inspired to find new ways to explore Edinburgh with Claire Askew and Russell Jones, who have put together the anthology Umbrellas of Edinburgh. They will be joined by some of the book's contributors including Harry Giles, Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Jane Yolen and Finola Scott.

 

Event Horizon (sci-fi cabaret) at Unbound

Venue : Spiegel Tent

Time and Dates: 16 August, 21:00-23:00

Ticket price/free: Free

Edinburgh’s monthly live SF cabaret with a special show celebrating Ken MacLeod’s Guest Selected series of Book Festival events and featuring science fiction writers from the Festival plus a mix of poetry, songs, music, drama and art. Over 18s only.

 

Come Down the Mile – Edinburgh Poetry Tours (Ken Cockburn)

Venue 167, Outside the Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DT

August 5–28 (not Thursdays & Fridays), 11.00 (12.30)

Tickets £10.00 (£5.00) – NB tickets for previews on 5 & 6 August are £6.00 (£4.00), and there is a 2-for-1 offer on 7 & 8 August.

Edinburgh has inspired writers for centuries. Join poet Ken Cockburn for a walk illustrated by poetry, shifting between parliament & palace, cemeteries & gardens, narrow streets & open parkland. Hear poems about Edinburgh by Robert Burns, Carolina Oliphant, the great Anon. & many more. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/come-down-the-mile

Categories: News

Poetry at the Edinburgh Festivals

Thursday 20 July 2017, 12:25

Kevin McLean: StAnza Slam Champion 2017

Kevin McLean: StAnza Slam Champion 2017

Edinburgh Festival time is almost upon us. As ever, there will be an abundance of poetry on offer across the city, whether as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (and we’ll be sharing information on their poetry programme soon), or at various Fringe venues, including the many Free Fringe programmes. For fans of poetry and spoken word of the poetry sort, sifting through all the online listings can be a bit hit and miss. So we’re offering to open up the StAnza Blog for listings of all poetry related events, exhibitions or installations taking place in Edinburgh during August, whether in the form of poetry and spoken word readings and performances, or events in other art forms which relate to poetry, including theatre, dance, comedy, etc.

So if you are involved in any poetry related activity in Edinburgh next month, or happy to pass on information you’ve received about interesting sounding events, please let us know and we’ll post regular listings here. It would help if you could send in the information in the following format:

  • Event name, and or poets names
  • Venue (name and Edinburgh Fringe venue number if known)
  • Time and Dates
  • Ticket price/free
  • Optional short description, say up to 50 words max

And then once all the fun gets going, we invite anyone attending poetry events to send in reviews, giving them from one to five stars, and an optional comment of up to 50 words*, or you can send links to other online reviews.

You can email us with listings or reviews to stanza@stanzapoetry.org and as well as posting on our Blog, we’ll share on our StAnza Facebook Page and StAnza Twitter feed, and sharing links in our e-newsletter.

So, what are you waiting for!

 

*Please note we won’t publish anything we consider to be abusive.

Categories: News

StAnza 2017 in word and image

Saturday 6 May 2017, 12:27

It's hard to believe that two months have passed since this year's festival, with the words and images from those glorious days still vivid in our memories. A full Afterword will be coming shortly. Meantime, however, with thanks to all the photographers, journalists and bloggers who covered StAnza, we now have galleries of photographs from the festival for you to browse and links to a dazzling range of reviews and articles.  You can see selected favourite photographs from the festival at our Flickr Album for StAnza 2017, and the whole range of photographs taken which we've received so far on our Flickr photostream, if you want to browse some more. So enjoy the view, and then delve in to some of the thousands of words written about this year's festival.

The Skinny: Strong Words, Strange Times

The Scotsman: StAnza 2017 review

The List: Imprisoned poets

The List: It’s like an apprenticeship …                                                    

The List: Writing poetry in the age of Twitter and Facebook

The List: StAnza 2017 celebrates Scotland’s heritage and international partnerships

Article about Jean Portante on Luxembourg Radio

The French Institute: StAnza

Burned Thumb: Day One at StAnza

Burned Thumb: Day Two at StAnza

StAnza: Recurring motifs

The Mumble: an afternoon at StAnza 2017

The Mumble: a second slice of StAnza

The Mumble: Capildeo and Feinstein 

Sightlines at StAnza

Paul Stephenson: Back from StAnza

Mini Meet up at StAnza

Past & Present

Vicki Husband Blog

StAnza 2017 is officially launched!

Words & Wanderlust: Thursday at StAnza 2017

Friday at StAnza: the halfway mark & pacing yourself at the festival

Saturday at StAnza: a coming together of fragments

Sunday: the festival finale

Categories: News

Sunday: the festival finale

Monday 6 March 2017, 12:03

The final wine photo from StAnza 2017: to the fabulous sounds of the Ekobirds

The final wine photo from StAnza 2017: to the fabulous sounds of the Ekobirds

All good things must come to an end… 

In some ways, it feels as though this year’s festival lasted for weeks – every day was packed full of several days worth of events, so that I started to feel as though I had always been at StAnza. Then Sunday arrived and suddenly I was wondering how it had all gone so quickly. 

Compared to the frenzy of Saturday, trying to concertina myself into as many events as possible, Sunday had a kind of easy calm. Perhaps it was the early onset of end-of-festival Blues, or perhaps people’s brains were just saturated with so much wonderful poetry – but all day you could see volunteers, participants and audience members sitting on the comfy red sofas in the Byre, or having coffee downstairs, enjoying the calm and soaking up the feel of just being there. 

But of course, it wasn’t just a day for sitting around on the outside of the events. On the final day of StAnza 2017, I attended five events. 

The first was, of course, Poetry Breakfast. Powered by much-needed coffee and delicious Fisher & Donaldson pastries, we settled into the cosy armchairs of the Studio Theatre. 

The morning’s discussion centred around translation, in the sense of movement across from one language to another, but also around the collaborative nature of translating. As Aurelia Lassaque put it, ‘When you write, you are very alone, and collaboration is a way of first sharing your work.’ Claudia Daventry, who chaired the event, described translation as the child of two creative minds: the poet and the translator. ‘The translation,’ she said, ‘always has the ghost of the translator in it.’ 

Though of course, it also carries the spirit of the original writer. As Jean Portante said, ‘You are never translating a language into another language. You are translating the language of one poet, and every poet has his own. Rimbaud is not writing in French, he is writing in Rimbaud.’

This notion of every poet having their own language continued into my second event of the day: the Clydebuilt Showcase. Four poets, who have all come through the Clydebuilt mentoring programme, performed their work amid the grandeur of the Town Hall Council Chamber. 

One of the things I always find fascinating about StAnza is the diversity of voices, and the diversity of styles. Like a microcosm of the festival as a whole, each of the poets at the Showcase was very distinct in their style, and spoke to the audience – to that poetry-receiving part of our brain – in a different way: even more impressive given that they had all come through the same mentoring programme. 

Continuing the theme of different voices, the day wouldn’t have been complete with the Loud Poets showcase to start the evening off. Curated by Kevin McLean and Katie Ailes (whose name is so similar to my own, it’s led to a bit of confusion this festival…) the Loud Poets is a Scottish poetry collective, creating events that are enjoyed by both ‘poetry-people’ and ‘non-poetry-people’ alike. Accompanied by the Ekobirds, the a selection of poets took the audience on another journey through varying styles and voices and subject matter – right across the whole range of our emotions. We left the Studio Theatre feeling energised and passionate, and ready for the night ahead. 

Which was a good thing, because the night ahead blew me away. 

The final Centre Stage event of this year’s festival featured Vahni Capildeo and Elaine Feinstein. Although very different in their styles, both poets spoke with a wry humour that worked in synergy with the strength and power of their poetry, and that complemented each other’s readings, creating the perfect Centre Stage to round off the festival. 

Out into the Byre bar for a well-deserved glass of wine, and dancing to the energy-packed sounds of the Ekobirds. As we whirled and stomped and swung around on the dance-floor, it was as if all the rhythm and language and thought of the past few days came out in pure joyous movement – movement that will hopefully carry us forward, through whatever dark times the world might offer up, until we come together again next year. 

By Katie Hale, officially signing off as In-House Blogger for StAnza 2017. Thanks for reading!

#StAnza17

Eleanor Livingstone's closing speech of StAnza 2017

Eleanor Livingstone's closing speech of StAnza 2017


Categories: News

Saturday at StAnza: a coming together of fragments

Sunday 5 March 2017, 16:07

St Andrews in the mist...

St Andrews in the mist...

'There's a winding and a wending and a being lost that's really important to writing poems.' -  R. A. Villanueva

Yesterday, I talked a bit about uncertainty, and the opportunities uncertainty offers. Far from a negative thing, it’s all about possibility. Of course, this can be stressful in itself – just ask anyone who works freelance. But it can also be freeing. 

Something that has come up again and again in connection with the festival theme of On The Road is the necessity of getting lost. 

At Poetry Breakfast, David Evans talking about flaneuring: the idea of wandering, observing and being lost, in contrast to the fragmented nature of our modern existence, where we are constantly hurrying from A to B, bombarded on all sides by images and information clamouring for our attention. Michelle Cahill then linked this fragmentation of modern experience to the fragmented narrative of the journey, and particularly of migration. ‘Is identity a structured thing,’ she asked, ‘or is poetry a way of bringing it together through fragments?’ 

Poetry certainly brought people together in my second event of the day: Border Crossings, with R. A. Villanueva and Matthew Caley. In the atmospheric cavern of the Undercroft, R. A. Villanueva captivated and carried the audience through his set, finishing on a poem that involved audience participation. Normally, audience participation is something I balk at (isn’t it sometimes like going to a Robbie Williams concert, where he makes the audience do most of the singing?) but what R. A. Villanueva set up was a kind of call and response, an intonation of a repeated line, ‘The world has always been ending.’ With the collective voices echoing off the rough stone of the Undercroft, it was like a congregational affirmation at a church service. The poem felt ritualistic, almost religious. 

Next Mattew Caley took the microphone, his deep rich voice resonating through the low-arched room, causing a ripple of laughter at his definition of a tanga as ‘a morbidly obese haiku.’

From one of the festival’s most intimate venues to its largest, with In Conversation with Hamish Brown and Jim Crumley. The event was billed as two writers discussing ‘poetry, travel and seeking high places’, but the part of the event I found most arresting was the discussion of silence. Both writers described moments of experiencing absolute silence in nature, when there were no human noises, no bird sounds, no rustles in the grass. They talked about ‘feeling’ the silence as much as hearing it, and Jim Crumley described that kind of absolute natural silence as ‘sacred’. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last few days with my head so steeped in words, but the sanctity of that silence really hit home for me. In the midst of language, it can be so easy to forget about the silence that it is born out of. 

But, at the penultimate day of StAnza, silence can only reign for so long. After a quick dinner at the Byre, it was time for Poetry Centre Stage. 

The first poet to perform was Sarah Howe, reading from her T S Eliot Prize-winning collection, Loop of Jade. A personal thanks has to go here to Annie Rutherford, who introduced the evening, for mentioning the #derangedpoetess twitter hashtag, and for her shoutout to me for being the hashtag’s initiator. 

Sarah Howe’s poetry struck me as being very tied up with the idea of protest. Not just because of the controversy that emerged following her winning of the T S Eliot Prize last year, but because of the rhetoric with which she surrounded her poems. She spoke about prose poems, and described the prose poem as a form  that defies definition, falling in the gap between poetry and prose – in a sense, a form that protests against segregation of different forms. In reference to her own position as a ‘controversial’ figure, she said: ‘If Plato thought poets were important enough to banish us from the ideal Republic, that’s good enough for me.’ Reading in her beautifully narrative voice, she kept the audience hooked right through her reading, until I couldn’t believe it when the interval arrived so soon. 

After the interval, it was Jackie Kay who took to the stage. She spoke about her role as Makar, and how the word is so much more appealing than the English term ‘laureate’; rather than resting on her laurels, her role is all about making – the creation of poetry. In contrast to Sarah Howe’s calm and restrained storytelling, Jackie Kay is an entertainer. Watching via the big screen in the upstairs Studio (or, as she called us, the ‘overspill’ people), her fun and humour translated into a kind of raucousness. There's something about the poet not actually being in the room that allows for a kind of free and raucous reaction to the work. (It also allows you to take off your shoes and curl up in the big comfy armchairs, but maybe that's just me.) 

And speaking of raucousness… Last night was the StAnza Slam. Hosted by Paula Varjack, poets competed for the title of StAnza Slam Champion 2017, and the chance to go on to compete in the Scottish National Slam. The crowd whooped and hollered and cheered for their favourites, as a wide variety of voices and styles stood before us on the stage. However, there could only be one winner. With a fiercely energetic poem about tiredness (one which seemed hugely appropriate as we reach towards the end of StAnza 2017), Kevin McLean took the coveted title, to rapturous applause. 

Kevin’s victory poem rounded off the night, and we headed home with words still flickering through our heads. A late night hot chocolate and a sleep, ready to begin the final day of StAnza 2017. 

By Katie Hale, In-House Blogger for StAnza 2017

​​​​​​​#StAnza17

Kevin McLean: StAnza Slam Champion 2017

Kevin McLean: StAnza Slam Champion 2017

Categories: News

Friday at StAnza: the halfway mark & pacing yourself at the festival

Saturday 4 March 2017, 12:44

StAnza 2017

Just a pretty picture of St Andrews...

After so much talk yesterday about how to pace yourself at the festival, I actually followed my own advice, and had quite a relaxed Friday at StAnza. It’s the middle point of the festival, which makes it the perfect point to take it easy, soak up conversation in the Byre, and recharge my batteries ready for a packed weekend. 

Of course, all things are relative, and my ‘relaxed Friday’ still saw me attending four events, plus tuning in to the live tweeting that was happening during Poetry Breakfast – while I was holed up in a café with an enormous latte, writing Thursday’s blog post. (The only downside to StAnza is that it’s so packed full of wonderful events, I have to be very strict on myself to wrangle a moment or two to write.)

So, fuelled by caffeine and curiosity, I headed to the Town Hall for the Society of Authors event, ‘Making a Living as a Poet’. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this event – but any event that pairs poetry with the ability to make a living is like a rare jewel, so it didn’t seem like one to miss. 

Chaired by Ken Cockburn, poets Sarah Heskith and Harry Giles talked about ways to make poetry pay – although, as Harry qualified, ‘You can make a living from poetry, but it’s a crap living.’ 

The overwhelming advice seemed to be about going out and finding your own work, rather than waiting for the work to come to you. Create your own residencies, live somewhere where the rent is cheap, turn up to things, meet interesting people, meet deadlines, be a nice person to work with, say yes to opportunities. You may not be able to get a full-time job just making art, but (as Harry Giles made clear), you can stitch together enough arts jobs to almost make a living. There’s an uncertainty to being an artist and trying to exist solely on arts-related jobs, but both writers made it clear that (for them) this was something they preferred to working in a non-arts job in order to support their writing. 

StAnza 2017

StAnza 2017

Uncertainty was a topic that seemed to keep on cropping up today (along with Gogglebox and Blind Date – but who said all conversations at poetry festivals had to be intellectual?). I had a really interesting conversation with a poet over lunch time about how uncertainty is always portrayed as a negative, and yet it’s much more useful to see it as possibility. 

In fact, I spent so much time having interesting conversations with people in the Byre bar, that the next event I made it to was the Poems Aloud University Library Recitation Competition. Twelve students from the University of St Andrews recited poems by poets who are at StAnza this year, and the thought of all the effort that had gone into the learning of the poems, and which went into their performances, was enough to leave me needing a rest by the end of it! 

Poems Aloud led almost straight into Five O’Clock Verses, today with Aurelia Lassaque and Sasha Dugdale. 

Having heard Aurelia sing at the festival launch, I was excited at the chance to hear her again. Writing in French and Occitan, Aurelia Lassaque’s lilting, travelling melodies carried over into the music of her spoken poetry. Her poetry (read in translation by StAnza’s own Annie Rutherford) became a cradle in which the audience rocked. 

The spell cast by Aurelia Lassaque continued to be cast by Sasha Dugdale. One phrase that stood out to me was ‘crow-pocked wind’, not just because of the music of its sounds, all existing like a breath exhaled at the front of the mouth, but also because it tied in with something Alice Oswald said on Thursday, about poetry that has movement, and a wind blowing through it. 
This idea of movement is something that continued into the evening, with Jacques Darras and Kathleen Jamie at Poetry Centre Stage. 

As Jacques Darras said, ‘To be a poet is to sit on an armchair to write about movement. To read a poem is like sitting on that chair that has just been left vacant by the poet.’ Sitting in the armchairs of the Byre Studio Theatre, watching the event being live screened from the auditorium, it was as though both poets were speaking directly to me, curled up in the dark box of the Studio: Jacques Darras’ rhythmic energy and Kathleen Jamie’s soft measures speaking directly into my head. As at Five O’Clock Verses, at one point I felt as though I was rocking gently in a boat, surrounded by a sea of poetry. 

Continuing my theme of a relaxing middle day at StAnza, I left before the open mic night really got underway in the Byre bar. Instead, I went back to the guest house, where I fell asleep to the sound of the rain, beating like consonants on the roof. 

By Katie Hale, In-House Blogger for StAnza 2017

#StAnza17

 

Categories: News
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