Photo: Nicky Davidson
Photo: Nicky Davidson
“Coming to StAnza is always like coming home.” – Katie Hale
“The energy running through the streets around the Byre and the other sites was generated by a sense of human connection. It could be said that the StAnza 2018 theme of ‘borderlines and the self’ was being realised via a kind of collective activity, as well as through the programmed or green-flash transformations within and between languages and arts.” – Vahni Capildeo, PN Review
“At StAnza Festival the buzz is palpable from the moment you arrive. It’s where you feel privileged to be on the programme and lucky to be in the audience. The energy spills out onto the streets and into the cafes and bars. It sends you home, changed.” – Martin Figura
Looking out today onto our sun-drenched summer, it is hard to believe that just a few months ago, Vanessa Kisuule’s Joyriding the Storm seemed the most relevant of all the poetry collections at StAnza. It’s time to take a look back to the festival which (whisper it) almost wasn’t.
As February’s snow fell, and fell, and fell, Britain collectively held its breath to watch the woods fill up with snow. But here at StAnza, we had promises to keep. Contingency plans were dreamt up and deployed, when – with the festival ticking ever closer – training meetings had to be cancelled and deliveries delayed. So much kudos goes to our ever amazing volunteers, who went above and beyond to keep festival preparations going smoothly. Remarkably, the thaw began the week of the festival. Roads were cleared and trains started running just in time to make sure our first poets, as well as the festival team, arrived with time to spare.
We launched StAnza 2018 with a brand new event, our Festival Launch Extravaganza which offered a taster of the festival to come. It was such a joy to see how enthusiastically this was received, and the launch became a microcosm of the festival itself: a welcoming space for all kinds of poetry, from Catherine Wilson’s passionate spoken word to Lies Van Gasse’s remarkable illustrated “graphic poetry”. We heard poems in English, Gaelic, and (in our Going Dutch focus) Frisian and Dutch, and saw emerging voices like Will Harris sharing a stage with headliners Sinéad Morrissey and Michael Symmons Roberts.
Both of this year’s festival themes – Borderlines and The Self – explored how we see ourselves and others, and asked where and how we encounter and open up to those others. Encounters and dialogues permeated the festival: from Flemish poet Maud Vanhauwaert’s exuberant collaborative performance with Katie Hale, to the Byre Youth Theatre’s heartrending production of Catastrophe/Forms, a performance of WW1 poetry originally developed in Berlin and incorporating a number of different languages. Excitingly, some of the conversations which started at the festival are continuing beyond borders, with some of our Frisian and Scottish poets furthering their collaborations.
StAnza 2018 also held some remarkable moments which reminded us how poetry can open us up to be our most self, and least personal. Martin Figura’s powerful performance in Dr Zeeman’s Catastrophe Machine was one such moment. The warmth of our collective reading, from the anthology Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and disabled poets write back, was another.
In a world which can seem increasingly fractured and isolated, seeing these performances spark conversations which wove their way through the festival (and beyond) was a joyful, necessary thing. As ever, StAnza 2018 became more than the sum of its parts not merely thanks to our talented poets and dedicated volunteers, but also thanks to our audience, whose generosity in opening up their selves to poetry, to dialogue and to others is always heart-warming, and astounding
Photos of poets and others taking part in StAnza 2018 and some of our favourite venue or atmosphere shots of St Andrews
2018 Broadcasts and Podcasts
2018 Reviews and Interviews
StAnza 2018 took place from 7-11 March, 2018
Our themes for StAnza 2018 were The Self and Borderlines.
Funding for 2018
StAnza is funded by Creative Scotland, EventScotland and Fife Council and supported by the University of St Andrews, the School of English, StayInStAndrews and St Leonards. For 2018 we are also grateful for support from Al-Maktoum College Community Fund through Foundation Scotland, Culture Ireland as part of GB18: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain, the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Flanders Literature, The Government of Flanders, LTI Korea, the British Council, the Estonian Literature Centre, and the Goethe-Institut.