Join the conversation at StAnza: talks and debates

Sunday 13 March 2011

A Poetry Breakfast panel gets going at StAnza 2010

StAnza is well known for its lively, energetic atmosphere, for the buzz that it creates around the poetry. This is due as much to its discussion and conversation strands as to the performances and readings. By turns celebratory and controversial, these talks influence the way we think about poetry. It’s a conversation that festival goers carry on long after the festival itself is over.

The StAnza Lectures have a history of their own: of creating conversations on often controversial topics that spill over into the press and the blogosphere.  On Friday 18th, Robert Crawford brings ancient poetry bang up to date with his lecture: ‘Simonides and the War on Terror’. The Greek poet was famous for his commemorations of those who fell in battle and Crawford looks at contemporary concerns for the casualties of terrorism – civilian and military.

The festival themes and other topics get mulled over during the Poetry Breakfast series brings together poets, critics and academics – experts in their fields. The 400th anniversary of the King James Bible reminds us that this is arguably one of the most influential literary texts in English. Poet (and Poetry Review editor) Fiona Sampson joins in the discussion on Friday 18th.  On Saturday 19th the Timepiece theme gets ticking again with the help of poets Hugh McMillan and newcomer Anna Woodford among others. As with all the Breakfasts, the audience get their say too, over the coffee and pastries.

It is often (too often) said that poetry is what gets lost in translation. Sunday’s Poetry Breakfast may well turn that notion on its head: Gaelic poet Kevin MacNeil is presenting some new translations especially commissioned by StAnza, and he will be joined in discussion by Don Paterson (who has major versions of Machado and Rilke under his belt) and Australian poets Tom Petsinis, Lidija Šimkutė, of Greek and  Lithuanian extraction, respectively. That’s a lot of languages in the mix!

Elsewhere, there’s the chance to explore the true  stories behind the great poetry. Edwin Morgan’s biographer, James McGonigal will be in conversation about the much mourned Makar. He will be talking to Robyn Marsack of the Scottish Poetry Library, which holds the Edwin Morgan Archive.  And poet Gawain Douglas will be offering an alternative view of his great uncle Lord Alfred Douglas – Oscar Wilde’s lover – as part of his own family history.

There’s more about the talks at www.stanzapoetry.org. And you can keep the conversations going afterwards via blogs and Twitter (@stanzapoetry).

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