StAnza’s Gaelic feast: from Sorley MacLean to 'A Thousand Sails'

Tuesday 18 January 2011, 14:17

Lurach are set to bring sweet music to StAnza

StAnza's Gaelic Focus  brings together poetry, art and music in a celebration of the richness ofGaelic language and culture. The festival has appointed its first ever Gaelic Poet-in-Residence: Maoilios Caimbeul (Myles Campbell) the acclaimed poet from Skye. He will betaking part in several readings, workshops and events including a special series of tributes to Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley MacLean), the influential Gaelic poet, whose anniversary year this is.

The highlight of these tributes will be a special concert by the soloist Lesley-Jane Rogers and members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the University of St Andrews Chamber Orchestra. They will be performing - for the very first time - new settings for poems by MacGill-Eain, the winning entries in StAnza’s composition competition. The judging has just been completed and we’ll be revealing more about the winners very soon.

Among several wonderful exhibitions at StAnza, Catriona Taylor’s A Thousand Sails offers a visual response to the profoundly Gaelic themes of emigration, clearance and journeys. The exhibition is complemented by a display of Gaelic manuscripts from the rich archives of the Scottish Poetry Library. And the Gaelic theme is continued in a series of poetry films.

Helping to launch StAnza on 16th March will be Mairi and Steaphanaidh Chaimbeul, native Gaelic speakers whose love of Scottish traditional music is deep-rooted, but whose music also draws on jazz, world music, and the classical. And to see the festival out on the 20th, will be Lurach, a quartet of talented musicians who learned their skills in the Outer Hebrides and are certain to get everybody’s feet tapping.

Categories: News

StAnza's brochures now available

Monday 17 January 2011, 22:44

New Year has whizzed past, the snow has melted (on some places anyway) and the StAnza team are forging ahead with preparations for the festival in March. Tickets are already on sale, the events programme is online at for your perusal and best of all, the StAnza new-look brochure is hot off the press and soon to found at poetry venues, libraries, bookshops and theatres across the country. You can also order one to be posted out, free of charge, and plan your visit to StAnza from the comfort of home. Call 01334 474610 or email

Categories: News

StAnza tickets on sale next week

Saturday 1 January 2011, 15:11

Festive greetings from StAnza and all best wishes for 2011.

Our programme for March has grown considerably since it went online a month ago. There is now a parcel of additional events and a few changes elsewhere, so do check it out and let us know what you think.

The printed brochure will be available very soon and tickets go on general sale on Tuesday 11th January: online, by phone or in person at the Box Office in St Andrews. You will note we have kept our prices affordable, plus there are early bird and bulk purchase discounts available too, and numerous free and unticketed events on offer.

There is too much happening to summarise it all here – 87 events, exhibitions, installations and films – but look out for our Gaelic focus and Australian focus, and for a range of Poetry Cafe events as part of Scotland's Land of Food and Drink. For those who like to join in, our Saturday night Slam will have a New York vibe this year and, by popular demand, we've got a new early evening event - for those who prefer a mellow open mic experience.  More on all of this shortly, but meantime why not take advantage of the holidays to check out the updated programme online here


Categories: News

StAnza's programme is now online!

Thursday 9 December 2010, 20:12

If you are snowed in and have time to surf, take a look at StAnza’s programme for 2011 which has just gone online at

The plethora of poets are due to appear at the festival at the Byre Theatre (left) and other venues in St Andrews, 16-20 March. The line-up is one of the most intriguing yet. Just confirmed is slam legend Bob Holman, who made this brand of performance poetry a force to be reckoned with. Fellow New Yorker Marilyn Hacker is also making a rare visit to Scotland. These transatlantic poets will be joining talents from closer to home: Ciaran Carson: the acclaimed poet from Northern Ireland. Julia Donaldson: the hugely popular children’s author and poet, of Gruffalo fame, who will be heading up the festival’s Children’s Programme and Douglas Dunn, Scotland’s most eminent poet. Recent T. S. Eliot Prize winner Philip Gross has also just been added to the list.

More names to plan your visit to StAnza around are Paul Farley, Selima Hill, Yang Lian, Carrie Etter and Fiona Sampson. Scotland’s voices include John Burnside, Stewart Conn, Helena Nelson, Rab Wilson, Hugh MacMillan and Tom Pow.

Among the international voices are Italy’s Antonella Anedda, Iraqi poet, Adnan al- Sayegh, Belgium’s sound and visual poetry group Krikri, and poets from Georgia and Australia. We’ll be posting more entries about the line-up over the next few months.

Categories: News

Poetry & Motion

Sunday 7 November 2010, 22:46

To the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Saturday, escaping the rain to attend the opening film of  Poetry & Motion, a collaboration between the Filmhouse and the Scottish Poetry Library. There was a full house for the showing of Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World, a documentary of the great American poet made in 1963. The film was like the man himself: witty and charming, with an acerbic edge. The poet was seen in his role as a grand public figure, side by side with President Kennedy, reading and talking to college students, but also living a simpler life on his Vermont farm.

There’s more to come this week: Regeneration - Gilles Mackinnon’s film about the First World War poets, Sassoon and Owen; Jane Campion’s Bright Star is an account of the relationship between Keats and Fanny Brawne; The Gruffalo, based on the book by Julia Donaldson (pictured), who will be at StAnza in March. Another rare gem is Boris Ryzhy a visual elegy for this little known Russian poet (who like Keats died young). The season ends with the extravagant cinematic version  of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor (yes, really) and Peter O’Toole. For more details about the programme, click here.

Categories: News

Australian poet walks tall in St Andrews

Tuesday 26 October 2010, 10:32

Les Murray reading at Parliament Hall, St Andrews on 25th October 2010

More than a hundred people turned out to hear Australian poet Les Murray at Parliament Hall, St Andrews last night, leaving behind the cold Scottish night air for a journey to the Antipodes with this most astonishing of poets. Murray is part of the poetic ‘superleague’, regularly compared with Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. Among many awards, he has won the T. S. Eliot prize and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

During his relaxed and informal reading – mainly from his collected works and his new collection Taller when Prone, published in the UK by Carcanet – Murray demonstrated how, with his sometimes deceptively simple vernacular, he could sneak up and surprise you. By turns funny, satiric, moving and profound, his observations of rural life in Australia took in friends, neighbours and the natural world, from the Aboriginal figure of the moon man, to bushfires and dust storms. His eye for natural detail was evident in poems about a ‘window-struck’ kingfisher and a mute Russian Grey pet cat, ‘lapping up clay water’ in the poet’s garden. ‘Science Fiction’ was a deft tribute to Edwin Morgan and a reminder of Murray’s interest in his Scottish roots.

The evening was organised by the School of English at the University of St Andrews in association with StAnza and introduced by the Principal, Dr Louise Richardson. 

The poet Robert Crawford, Professor at the School of English, gave the closing address, commenting on how Murray’s poetry  ‘resonates so remarkably with the contemporary world.’ 

Categories: News
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