John Burnside

John Burnside was born in West Fife when rationing was still in force. His 2011 collection, Black Cat Bone, won both the T.S. Eliot and the Forward Prize; his radio play Coldhaven was voted the best production in Germany in 2017; and his most recent novel is Ashland & Vine (which was written before Donald Trump came to power in the USA). He publishes occasionally in The London Review of Books, and writes a regular nature column for The New Statesman.

Photo: (c) Lucas


Poetry Centre Stage »

A double bill of poetry for Thursday evening
20:00 Reading – A.E. Stallings
21:00 Reading – John Burnside​​​​​​​

Thu 7 March | 20:00 - 22:00 | £9.75/£8.00 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium

The StAnza 2019 Lecture: John Burnside »

‘The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it’

Thu 7 March | 15:30 - 16:30 | £4.50/£3.50 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium

Round Table »

Enjoy an intimate reading with John Burnside

Sat 9 March | 11:30 - 12:15 | £6.50/£4.50 | The Green Room, St Leonards Quad, St Leonards School, South Street

Festival Launch Extravaganza »

Enjoy a sneak peek of some of the highlights of StAnza 2019

Wed 6 March | 18:30 - 20:45 | free / ticketed | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


Pig Latin

       Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty
       and the pig likes it. 
                     George Bernard Shaw

bringing home the sleek
autochthon who might have passed
for the last of his kind,

I pledge to ignore the flag, for a choir
of birdcalls far in the trees
and the stink of the dogs coming through
on pockmarked snow.

Ashamed of surviving so long
in the hushed estates,
I occupy the dative like a fallen
mustardseed, determined to arrive

at light and rain, all sanctuary foregone,
to go back to the verb, and nothing else,
my brothers submerged in the earth
with the aurochs and auks,

whole dynasties
of saddlebacks and lops
pooled on a rammed earth floor
with the blood of kings.

John Burnside