To mark the the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Butler Yeats, at StAnza 2015 the SPL invited a number of poets at the festival to read and reflect on their favourite Yeats poem, including Kei Miller, Ryan Van Winkle, Carolyn Forché, Jim Carruth, Alexander Hutchison, Anne Crowe.
This is a recording of Alice Notley’s Round Table In Conversation event at StAnza 2015 on Saturday 7 March when she was speaking to JL Williams.
We are handing this blog space over to the winner of this year's Digital Slam, Stephen Watt from Dumbarton. Check out his winning StAnza Digital Slam performance at http://stanzapoetry.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/2014-stanza-digital-slam-re....
In this post, Stephen tells us a little about his background, his favourite poets and what he's doing performance wise in the lively poetry and spoken work scene.
Social realism, punk, story-telling, romance, and nostalgia; in a way, these are the things which drive me. If I could write something as masterly as (Carol Ann) Duffy’s “Queen Kong” or as spirited as (John) Cooper-Clarke’s “Beasley Street”, then I would plant a flag in it and begin my own niche.
I am from Dumbarton, on the outskirts of Glasgow. At the age of 19, I began writing poetry into a little notebook after listening to a bin lorry roll down my parent’s street. Within six months, I had been assaulted by drug addicts on two occasions – once with a needle held to my face, the other with a knife pressed into my neck. My counsellor advised that the writing was an excellent form of therapy, and so I continued to write a number of poems around this time. As a very shy and quiet child, it was an easy thing for me to spend time alone with my own thoughts, writing, dreaming, thinking..... Quite often using music to influence my mood, whilst listening to the wistful lyrics of Ian Dury, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mark E Smith and Seething Wells to list a few.
My grandfather had been a poet, writing a book of personal love poems to my grandmother in 1937. I never knew this until my mum alerted me to the fact this book existed – and was written when he was 19 – the same age that I had began writing. It was then I slowly began to come out of my shell. I would watch people around Dumbarton and Glasgow, exaggerating their characters to fill taboo subjects such as brothels, rent boys, domestic violence, etc. Small press magazines across the UK published a number of my poems about these subjects. Having gained confidence during my twenties from this relative success, and with an exceptional circle of friends supporting my writing, I ventured into the literary / spoken word scene in Glasgow in 2010 – nearly a full decade after I had first began scribbling down my thoughts. Since then, things really lifted off. I travelled to Peterborough in 2011 to beat 8,000 entrants by winning the Poetry Rivals Slam, earning a one book publishing contract with Bonacia Ltd, and releasing my debut collection “Spit” one year later. Further awards both on page and stage have been achieved over the last two years but perhaps the greatest satisfaction of all is the number of inspiring, exciting, and inventive poets emerging from Scotland, encompassing all ages and creeds, seemingly all at the same time. It is something I enjoy being part of enormously, and challenges the old caveat that poetry is a one person game.
I have just finished performing at a number of magazine launches and festivals across the country, but should anyone wish to follow me or keep an eye on what happens next, then they can find my ‘Spit’ poetry pages on Facebook and Twitter at:
StAnza 2014 Slam, photo by Helena Fornells Nadal
In third place: Ama Asantewa Diaka
In second place: Batsirai Chigama
And the WINNER of our 2014 Digital Slam is: Stephen Watt
Congratulations to Stephen! Look out for a special blog about him in a week or so. In the meantime, here’s the winning performance:
4. Stephen Watt (Dumbarton)
And if this has whetted your appetite for slam, don't forget the heats of this year's BBC Edinburgh Slam at the Fringe, in which StAnza's Eleanor Livingstone is again a judge, are currently taking place every evening until Thursday at 8.15pm in the Pink Bubble at Potterrow. The final is at 8.00pm for 8.30pm on Saturday in the Blue Bubble. It's all free but the Saturday final is free-but-ticketed (see link below). In last night's first heat, the finalist were Amanda Baker, StAnza 2014 Digital Slam finalist Chris Young and Miko Berry. Amanda Baker was the winner and she'll go forward to Saturday's final, which we understand will be live streamed for those who can't get there non-virtually.
Thanks to everyone who took part this year’s Digital Slam, and a special thanks to our partners at the Badilisha Poetry X-change!
The judges have had a tricky time whittling them down to a final ten. But whittle down they did and so we are delighted to present this year’s shortlist . . .
Scroll down through the entries, click ‘play’, and feast your eyes/ears.
And don’t forget, once you’ve done that, click on our voting widget to register your support for your favourite poet/spoken word artist.
The voting is open from now till 5pm (BST) Monday 11 August.
One vote per person. But if you’ve already voted, spread the word . . .
We’ll announce the winner soon after voting closes on the 11th.
1. Kyle Louw (Cape Town)
2. Batsirai Chigama (Harare)
3. Ama Asantewa Diaka (Ghana)
4. Stephen Watt (Dumbarton)
5. Chris Young (Glasgow)
6. Alexander Velky (Pembrokeshire)
7. Stephanie Arsoska (Kirriemuir)
8. Tracey S. Rosenberg (Edinburgh)
9. Steve Smart (Dundee)
10. Josephine Pizer (Portobello)
UPDATE (11 Aug)
Voting has now closed. Thanks to everyone who took part!