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.
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.’
Les Murray will be reading in St Andrews this month.
If you would like to enjoy some world class poetry ahead of the StAnza extravaganza planned for March (see the blog post below), clear a space in your diary for 25 October when the outstanding Australian poet, Les Murray, will be giving a reading in St Andrews, Fife. This is the first time the poet has been to the town since he appeared at StAnza back in 2000. The event is being hosted by the University of St Andrews’ School of English, in association with StAnza, and will take place at 7pm in the town’s historic Parliament Hall.
Murray is a poet of international standing and his work has been published in ten languages. Among his many awards, he won the T. S. Eliot Prize for Best Collection in 1996 and was awarded the Queen’s Medal in 1999, on the recommendation of the late Ted Hughes. Murray has strong connections with Scotland – his ancestors left the Highlands for Sydney in 1848 – and his poetry celebrates Scottish and Scottish Gaelic cultural influences in Australia. His latest collection, Taller When Prone, is to be published in the UK next month by Carcanet and copies will be available at his St Andrews event.
Tickets for the event are available on the door for (£5.00/£3.00). To reserve a ticket, email firstname.lastname@example.org. (NB reserved tickets must be collected by 6.40pm on 25th October).
Ciaran Carson is one of the poets to appear at StAnza 2011
We are celebrating National Poetry Day by announcing our line-up of poets for the 2011 festival. Yes, we are working that far ahead! Here are just some of the poets you can look forward to hearing next March. The full list is available on our website today and we will keep you up to date on the programme over the next couple of months: there are still surprises in store.
Ciaran Carson: the acclaimed poet from Northern Ireland has published nine collections, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2003. He is Director of the prestigious Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at the Queen’s University, Belfast.
Julia Donaldson: the hugely popular children’s author and poet, of ‘Gruffalo ‘ fame, who will be heading up the festival’s Children’s Programme.
Douglas Dunn: Scotland’s most eminent poet, he was awarded an OBE in 2003 and has been tipped as a possible successor to Edwin Morgan as Scotland’s Makar.
Paul Farley: the poet, playwright and broadcaster was one of the Poetry Society’s Next Generation Poets. His most recent poetry books are the collection, Tramp in Flames (2006) and The Atlantic Tunnel: Selected Works (2010). Field Recordings: BBC Poems 1998-2008 (2009), which encompasses his broadcast poetry was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
Selima Hill: one of Britain’s most imaginative poets, whimsical and disturbing, she tackles difficult subjects with a unique range of imagery. She has won many awards and been shortlisted for all three major poetry prizes in the UK.
Yang Lian: Brought up in Bejiing, and now living in London, Yang has published ten collections and his work translated into 20 languages. He is best known for his poetry sequences and long poems which are related to Classical Chinese poetry.
Fiona Sampson: a prolific editor and translator, whose interests include the relationship between poetry and health care, her latest collection, Rough Music (2010) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Poetry Collection). She is editor of the Poetry Review.
Other names on the list include Italy’s Antonella Anedda, Iraqi poet, Adnan Al Sayegh, Belgium’s sound and visual poetry group Krikri, and poets from the USA, Georgia and Australia. Scotland’s voices include John Burnside, Stewart Conn, Helena Nelson, Rab Wilson, Hugh McMillan and Tom Pow.
John Glenday reading at StAnza 2010
Then on Sunday, Shore Poets got underway with their autumn programme. Heading the bill was John Glenday who was such a success at StAnza last March, with support from Alan Gillis, another StAnza favourite, and new poet Ross Wilson. Gerda Stevenson provided the music, and The Lot, Shore Poets' regular venue in the Grassmarket, was packed to capacity - an excellent start to the autumn season.
Patchwork Poem from The National Poetry Society
For more information on how to send in your contributions, check their website.