'Ideas that make it big start here': Sally Evans previews StAnza's Poets Market

Friday 22 February 2013

The first of this year's guest bloggers, Sally Evans, looks forward to the StAnza Poets Market. Sally is a poet based in Callander, where she runs a bookshop and both edits and publishes the broadsheet magazine Poetry Scotland

All Saints Hall, North Castle Street is the venue for the Saturday Poets Market at this year's StAnza. That's Saturday, 9 March and it isn't far away!

Stalls at StAnza's Poets Market

All poet publishers are saints, as are all those who put on events at which our poets can meet and perform. At a time when recession puts pressure on public funding and mainstream bookshops, and has even closed the Byre Theatre, giving StAnza the biggest challenge of its fifteen years,  poetry is published regardless of the difficulties, by ordinary people who believe in its power for good.

From a bone folder and stapler and a computer and printer, right through to book distribution on a national and international scale, poets and their publishers meet every year at the StAnza Poets Market to show their wares, see each other's latest productions and ideas, to talk and network, meet readers and writers from elsewhere, enjoy the fun, sell a few items and make contacts that reach into the future.

StAnza's Poets Market is now a firm institution. For the last six years it's been managed very effectively and reliably by Alan Gay. There were pamphlet fairs before that. This year, The Poetry Society, Templar Press and other visitors exhibit alongside Scottish publishers of all types, including writers' groups. Any type of publication is fair game: pamphlets, magazines, postcards, zines, posters –  and books of course. A great place to suss out your markets as well as to pick up freebies and perhaps buy one or two treasures..

It is such a good idea that it is no longer the only such annual market: there 's a similar annual event at the National Library at Christmas and one at the Scottish Poetry Library in the autumn. I've exhibited at most of the StAnza Poets Markets over the years.

Poetry Scotland's first issue was out at the very first StAnza, back in the mists of time, when we wandered round the town with Gael Turnbull giving out copies to all and sundry. Having just passed another milestone by distributing Issues 75, 76 and 77 this January, we'll be doing a retrospective at this year's Poet's Market, picking out special issues of Poetry Scotland for display – for instance some single poet issues, including Rody Gorman's Gaelic and English one, Robert Alan Jamieson's The Cutting Down of Cutty Sark, and the English Diaspora (English poets settled in Scotland) and Caves of Gold (the Long Poem issue), and our newest Scots only issue In Oor Ain Wurds. Since we have a Welsh theme at StAnza I will also look out those with contributions in Welsh by David Annwn

We'll have our diehard backlist (more to come later this year so nothing brand new in that line) and some examples of our poetry bookbindings. The books below were our nod to the Kindle: metallic bindings, two tone car spray straight onto the boards, and open flat sewn bindings inside. There were labour intensive and and we had to do the spraying outdoors in fine weather, but they were a huge success and sold out as fast as we could make them.

photo Murdo Macdonald

I'll be demonstrating book and pamphlet sewing on this book sewing frame (see the photograph below). Edinburgh, once the city of bookbinding, used to be awash with these frames.

photo Julie Johnstone


You'll find much more as you go round the tables. Everyone is there to display and talk about their newest ideas and offerings. People you last met in London or Oxford or Aberdeen or Glasgow. The  Poets market is inclusive and up to the moment, a hotbed of poetic invention. The ideas that make it big start here.

 Read more from Sally Evans at desktopsallye.com