The view from the chair

Sunday 16 February 2014

Colin WillColin Will is a Scottish poet and publisher based in Dunbar, from where he runs Calder Wood Press. He was Chair of the StAnza Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2009, was reappointed as a trustee in 2013 then as Chair in February 2014. The most recent collection of his own poetry is ‘The Propriety of Weeding’ (Red Squirrel Press, 2012).

StAnza is a team effort. We are very fortunate to have Eleanor Livingstone as our Director, and she does an enormous amount of work to create and sustain each Festival, and to plan future ones. Those who attend the Festival regularly, as I have, will know that StAnza is also supported by a large group of volunteers who give their time and skills generously to be the public face of the Festival – on the ticket desk, at the venues and at other places in the town. They are the ones whose smiles welcome visitors, and who make the Festival such a warm and friendly one. You may also have seen the volunteers who staff the venues, and who bring visiting poets to and from venues. We could not put on the Festival without these resourceful and positive people.

Behind the scenes too there’s a large group of dedicated people who look after technical issues, finances, transport, accommodation, catering, ticketing, venues, publicity, communication and many other essential services. There are people who help with future programme planning, and others who have an overview of the governance and management of the organisation.

That’s where I come in. I first joined the Board of Trustees of StAnza back in 2004, having previously chaired the Scottish Poetry Library’s Board, and having been a senior manager in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. I was asked to chair the Board in 2006, and I served a three-year term, stepping down in 2009. Last year my successor, Angela Wrapson, had to step down for personal reasons, and I was asked to come back on the Board. As from February’s AGM, I now chair it again.

I’m looking forward to another term in office, and I hope to ensure that we are, as we have always been, strong and resilient in the face of change. Who could have foreseen last year’s closure of the Byre Theatre, for example? Director, Board and volunteers stepped up to the challenge magnificently, and last year’s Festival was delivered very successfully. It’s hard to predict what challenges we might have to face in future, but I’m confident we will rise to these challenges and overcome any difficulties that may occur in future.

And now I’m looking forward to this year’s Festival in keen anticipation. I’ve booked my accommodation and bought my tickets, thanks to our new ticketing partners, and I know I’m going to enjoy an enriching experience at the Festival. Some of poets are friends, others I haven’t met yet, but we’re alike in our love for, and commitment to, poetry. Come and join me.

Colin Will blogs as