Guest editors at StAnza: starting the festival with Glasgow Women's Library

Saturday 6 March 2021

Morag Smith from the Glasgow Women's Library looks forwrad to her highlights at StAnza.

I’m national development worker for Glasgow Women’s Library and a big fan of Stanza so it’s a pleasure to be asked to contribute to the festival blog. GWL champions the work and lives of women poets and writers past and present, so I’m excited to see so many great events focusing on women.


I’ve recently been reading the selected poems of Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye (Words Under the Words, selected poems). GWL staff frequently read from Naomi’s work in workshops and Story Cafe events so I’ll be making sure to catch her and Tim Liardet on Tuesday 9th March.


I’m also looking forward to hearing Tishani Doshi, the Welsh-Gujurati poet, reading live on Friday 12th March. Tishani’s poem 'Girls are Coming Out of the Woods' blew me away when I first read it and her collection of the same name was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes award.


Another little box of treats I’m signing up for are Stanza’s Poets at Home series of short 15 minute films which run throughout the festival. They are perfect for my lockdown attention span and I can easily fit them into my day – I’m especially looking forward to Ella Frears on Monday 8th March (1730 to 1745). I saw Ella read just a few weeks ago at the T.S. Elliot awards – her energetically present poetry is dark, humorous, beautifully written and touches on many things including sexual politics, womanhood and girlhood.


We work with many volunteers at GWL, so I asked Jo one of our volunteers who is also a keen poet and writer, for her Stanza recommendations and she picked out these two sessions:


Sun 7th March 10.30-11.30: Poetry and meditation

I love the idea of listening to meditation and readings in the morning, especially at its later start of 10.30 and gently be eased into feeling you’ve been active while extending your relaxing Sunday morning.


Sun 7th March 12-12.10: Inspire session

I love this idea of becoming inspired in 10 mins, that you can then take creatively into your own poetic practise, or inject excitement into your conversations through the week!


Three women of different ages sitting and reading at a table with coffee in a libraryIf you start getting withdrawal symptoms when Stanza is over, have a look at some of GWL’s exciting online literary events coming up in the near future. Our online Story Cafes are a chance to draw up your chair, sit back and relax while listening to readings of poetry, fiction and non-fiction by GWL staff and volunteers from a wide range of women writers. You can take part in the zoom chat and ask questions or just listen in and (re)discover the pleasure of being read to at these lovely informal events. Story Cafes coming up soon include:

Brave Your Day on Thursday 18th March at 1pm with Charley Gavigan ( Charley looks at how the power of stories can unite us in these uncertain times.

Story Café special with Kirsten MacQuarrie on 22nd April at 1pm ( Kirsten will be reading from her debut novel, Ellen and Arbor.

Talking of festivals, May 2021 also sees the return of GWL’s innovative Open the Door festival, which will run online from 20th to 22nd May. Open the Door is a unique festival that aims to break down the barriers between writers and readers and generate new discussions. The title of the festival comes from Catherine Carswell’s classic work of fiction and we want to create open doors into the worlds of reading and writing through every event and conversation. Each year the festival focuses on the life and work of three women writers from the past whose work deserves more attention. Past writers have included Sandy Craigie, Wangaari Mathai, Jessie Kesson and Maud Sulter. This year we will be looking at writers who are artists and artists who are writers and have a really exciting line–up of live chats between women authors/artists, conversations on social media, informal workshops and much more. We will also be looking for entries for our Calm Slam - the GWL Open the Door Calm Slam is for every woman* who loves poetry but likes the quiet life and is aimed at women who haven’t taken part in poetry slams before. We’ll looking for your words and your videos, with you in front or behind the camera. Details of how to enter the Calm Slam and of all Open the Door events will be announced very soon, so keep an eye on the events programme on our website:

Thanks for reading the blog, have an amazing time at Stanza and hope to see some of you at Glasgow Women’s Library events in the future!

You can find GWL on Facebook, Twitter (@womenslibrary) and Instagram (@womenslibrary). You can also join their mailing list for monthly updates.

Glasgow Women's Library in black letters, next to a sign like a children crossing the road sign, but where one of the figures is a stick girl and the other is an "i"