StAnza was greatly saddened to hear of the death on 20th September of Duncan Glen, Scottish poet, publisher, graphic designer and typographer. Duncan was due to take part in StAnza 2009 until recent ill health forced him to withdraw from the programme. We are indebted to him for his contributions to previous festivals, including a spirited reading at 2007’s 100 Poets’ Gathering and a engaging talk on MacDiarmid in 2001. His superb, inspired design work on our programmes and flyers in 2003 and 2004 resulted in StAnza’s signature long, tall programme style and is the source of much of the festival’s design identity to this day.
John Bell was born in Glasgow in 1946. After his schooling, he attended Glasgow University, studying for the degree of B Ed. John’s career teaching Modern Studies, led ultimately to his appointment as Principal Teacher in Modern Studies at Glenrothes High School. After nine years as PT, John was appointed as the first ever Scottish Secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, a post he held for six years.
In 1984 John was elected as a Liberal Councillor in Glenrothes serving for four years. In 1990, John and his wife Catie moved to Lundin Links and in 2001 John was elected as LibDem councillor for Largo, representing the ward until 2007. John was also a director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, where he took an interest not only in the performance side of the orchestra but also the work that they do in schools.
In 2005 John was asked to join the Board of StAnza, and was a highly active member until his death. In this capacity he attended numerous board meetings, assisting in many aspects of the organisation’s work and advising on various matters, particularly those connected with the local administration. On top of that he was a regular attender at planning committee meetings and festival plenary meetings, always contributing pertinent and well-considered opinions.
John’s council connections enabled him to assist StAnza in numerous ways, most notably in arranging for the festival’s use of our depot at the St Andrews Council Offices and with securing police permission for the memorable projections during our 10th festival in 2007. He was also extremely assiduous in making personal connections with people attending the festival, especially those from overseas. His representation of StAnza in this way will, in particular, be sorely missed. In short, John was one of those people who gave more than they receive, and always with enthusiasm and commitment. All of us involved in StAnza have been privileged to know him.
On 18 March 2007 as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations at StAnza 2007, 103 poets gathered to read one poem each at what turned out to be a very special event. As a finalé, Alastair Reid gave what he said was the last ever reading of his much anthologised poem, Scotland, then set fire to it. There was much enthusiasm from those taking part for some kind of record of the event. Skein of Geese, a limited edition anthology of the poems read that day - except, of course, Scotland - is now available.
The anthology was edited by StAnza's Artistic Director, Eleanor Livingstone, and designed by StAnza Committee Member, Jennifer Elliott. The image of geese on the back cover is from a lithograph, Skein iv by Alan Stones www.alanstones.co.uk. Copies will be for sale at StAnza 2008 for £5, and are also available from the Wordpower Book Shop in Edinburgh. From April 2008, copies can also be purchased by post from Eleanor Livingstone (email email@example.com after 1 April for details) as long as stocks last.