Next Friday sees the long awaited arrival of the US poet August Kleinzahler in St Andrews for an evening of poetry and conversation. It’s a chance not to be missed.
The reading will take place at 7pm on 13 May at All Saint’s Hall, St Andrews. As well as reading, Kleinzahler will also be in conversation with Scottish poet Alexander Hutchison, talking about his writing and his influences. There’s still time to order tickets in advance at the Byre Theatre, 01334 475000; email firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.byretheatre.com.
This is a rare chance to see a poet famous for his jazzy inventive style. Among his many accolades (such as the Griffin Prize), he is also the Poet Laureate of his home town, Fort Lee in New Jersey and his early life in this tough neighbourhood is a constant theme in his work. He studied his craft under poets Thom Gunn and Basil Bunting. His most recent volume of poetry is Sleeping It Off In Rapid City: Poems New & Selected (Faber), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has just been published in the UK in paperback.
August Kleinzahler’s reading for StAnza is approaching fast, less than two weeks now, and even before that, as part of a week of activities in St Andrews, two poetry events are on offer, both on Tuesday 3rd May. At 5.30pm in the Garden Seminar Room at the School of English on The Scores, Tom Jones will deliver a workshop on “What makes poetic language poetic”. Then at 7.30pm in the King James Library in St Mary’s Quad off South Street, Douglas Dunn, Chris Jones and Don Paterson are giving a poetry reading.
Poetry has, not surprisingly, played its part in the run-up to the Royal Wedding tomorrow. Last Saturday, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, presented a collection of ‘wedding vows’, published here in the Guardian, by, among others, Scotland's new Makar, Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay, Michael Longley and Wendy Cope. Many are names who have appeared at StAnza.
We were really delighted to see among them, a new poem by Rachael Boast, who has worked for the festival as a volunteer for several years, and whose first poetry collection, Sidereal, is being published next month by Picador. Congratulations to her.
StAnza Showcase, Friday 18 March 2011
Sunday’s Observer included poetry in the news section twice. An article about analogue versus digital in the arts featured poet Claire Askew – who took part in one of this year’s StAnza showcase events – talking about her preference for typewriters in a laptop age.
Elsewhere in Sunday's paper, we learn that a Canadian poet, Christian Bők, is translating a short verse into DNA, using a ‘chemical alphabet’. Most likely it was a happy coincidence that these polar extreme approaches to science and technology as tools for poetry featured in the same edition of a newspaper, though it would be nice to think that it was by design.
While the sun has been shining, April has been a busy month for poetry. Last weekend saw a Calderwood Press triple launch at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh on Saturday evening – new publications from Geoff Cooper, Eddie Gibbons and Lyn Moir. Then on Sunday evening at Rob Mackenzie’s regular Poetry at the Store event, Matthew Stewart was over from Spain to launch his first chapbook collection from HappenStance.
In St Andrews On the Rocks has been taking place this week, a festival organised by local students which will feature the first performance of Robinson, Brian Johnstone’s poem sequence about American poet Weldon Kees with new music composed by Richard Ingham. That’s at the Byre Theatre on Saturday 23rd April at 7.00pm.
James McGonigal at StAnza 2011
Meantime the shortlists have been announced for the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry , and we’re delighted to see Mariscat Press featuring in the best publisher category and James McGonigal shortlisted for his pamphlet Cloud Pibroch. Jim took part in the Saturday In Conversation at StAnza last month discussing Beyond the Last Dragon, his biography of Edwin Morgan. That’s double good news for Jim – Beyond the Last Dragon is in the running for the Scottish Book of the Year awards, for which the long list was also announced this week. Stuart Kelly, who took part in a StAnza Past & Present event on Sir Walter Scott last month is also on the non-fiction list for his book Scott-land. Poets are well represented this year, with two more on the non-fiction list, Jackie Kay and Andrew Greig.
Kei Miller, Poet in Residence at StAnza 2010
Finally, there’s also poetry in the First Book category this year, Maggie Rabatski’s first pamphlet, Down from the Dance.
Vicki Feaver at StAnza 2010
The closing date is June 10th, 2011 and the prize giving at the Edinburgh International Book Festival is scheduled for 17th August.