Happy St Andrews Day!
Our programme for 2021 is now revealed! During a glorious week of companionship around poetry in St Andrews last March, we had little idea of the challenges which were ahead. Like everyone else, StAnza has had to respond and adapt. This is reflected in our 2021 programme, most of which is offered on a ‘Pay What You Can’ basis to make it accessible to all, with thanks to some generous donors, and we hope you’ll support us if you are able to.
Throughout the pandemic, people have been turning to poetry for consolation and inspiration, emphasising the pivotal nature of the artform to our emotional lives. StAnza 2021 celebrates this profound relevance of poetry, showcasing a wide range of the artform, from page to performance, concrete verse to spoken word, established artists to emerging voices – committed as ever to the fact that when it comes to poetry there really is something for everyone. As we cannot invite people to travel to St Andrews, we’re delighted to be bringing StAnza to you wherever you are – including something of St Andrews itself – and we have a packed programme for you, with events, installations and exhibitions which celebrate and interrogate this year’s festival themes of ‘Make It New’ and ‘No Rhyme nor Reason’, and a translated language focus of ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’.
We’ve built on our experience of offering online events since 2009 to create a dynamic mix
of audio and digital, virtual and streamed events, engaging formats which harness digital potential, such as our Poets at Home strand and podcast crossovers. However, you’ll also find many familiar favourites here, from Past & Present and Meet the Artist sessions to the annual StAnza Lecture, Masterclass and Slam, as well as workshops and open mic events. And as a sense of community is integral to the festival, Zoom will allow you to meet up informally in our virtual Byre Theatre café.
If Covid-19 regulations permit in March, we hope to offer St Andrews folk two outdoor readings
and two poetry walks, while the Byre Theatre and possibly other arts venues around Scotland screen some of our events to small and socially distanced audiences. Check out our Covid safety policy here. If you’re accessing the festival remotely but without good internet connection, there’s material you can download quickly, and you can also ask for a little bit of the festival to be posted out to you in the form of postcards or window poems – or even call up our poetry hotline, Dial-a-Poem.
Our Border Crossings sessions have always been a popular feature at the festival. In a time travel is
limited and divisions are rife, it is all the more important that poetry can cross borders and be given a centre stage position. So for 2021, all our main readings see borders being crossed, and all our readings will be centre stage. Across the programme we feature poets from Russia, Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Germany, India, Singapore, Australia, Tasmania, the USA and more, bringing us poetry and commentary from where they are, letting us see through their eyes – literally with our WindowSwap project. And of course, they share StAnza’s virtual platform with UK-based poets, artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers, offering a multi-layered festival experience with something for everyone. This will also be Eleanor Livingstone’s last StAnza as Festival Director, after eleven years at the helm, making this festival especially memorable for us. We hope you join us online to celebrate StAnza 2021 in March!
st ninian’s isle
there’s a wind blowing in from the southlands
those dumpling clouds will bring rain tomorrow
but right now these hills are dry and the wild grass is golden
the ayre before me is glorious
gravel sparkling in the late summer sun
crunching this way and that as i make my crossing to st ninian’s
one lonesome seal sheltering in the bay follows my journey
a guardian angel watching over me like no other
such solitude is bliss and i am immortal
overhead the call of a curlew announces his flight
gliding toward the moorland to feed
whilst i navigate thrift on the bank
a wheatear watches as ancient kirk ruins appear over the brae
picts and norsemen long since departed
like the treasures once found under a tombstone
yet this isle
this old norse place
Festival Director Vacancy
We are looking for a creative, dynamic and hard-working person with a passion for poetry to take up the freelance role of Director of StAnza, Scotland’s annual international poetry festival, which is based in St Andrews.
Having been Festival Director since 2010, Eleanor Livingstone will be stepping down after the March 2021 Festival, and as director-designate you will be able to shadow her during the run-up and delivery of that festival, taking over on 1 April 2021.
To maintain StAnza’s high reputation in the poetry community nationally and internationally, you will need the ability to deliver high quality cultural programmes, considerable experience in cultural administration, and a flair for communicating with a wide range of artists (from emergent to renowned), audiences and stakeholders.
For full details of the post and how to apply, see here.
Application deadline: 6 November 2020
The evenings are drawing in and the nights are getting longer, which can only mean one thing: Book Week Scotland is almost upon us! This year the annual celebration of books and reading takes place from 16 - 22 November, and here at StAnza we've commissioned a rather special project to mark the occasion.
THIS is an interactive poetry reading, created by Steve Smart and Rebecca Sharp and formed around Rebecca Sharp’s original poem of the same name. Bringing poetry together with sound, visual art and digital media, the work playfully asks what the reader brings to the experience of reading and what they receive in return.
THIS is a piece of exploration, of curiosity and of hope – but it’s also a piece which holds back from offering solid ‘answers’. At the end of a year of uncertainty, THIS reminds readers that not knowing is OK, and that we’re all doing the same, underneath the skin of things. The piece playfully demonstrates the ability of poetry to present intricate and elusive ideas, images and feelings for interaction and transformative experience.
You can access THIS here, just scroll down to the 'About THIS' section, and click on 'Begin THIS'.
If your curiousity is whetted, then don't miss our Meet the Artists event with Steve and Rebecca on Saturday 21 November from 16:00 to 16:45. Join us hear readings from Rebecca and Steve, including the piece which THIS is built around, as well as to learn more about their collaboration and how the installation came to be. To attend the Meet the Artist, which will take place by Zoom, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meantime, happy reading!
Happy National Poetry Day!
(c) Michael Macari
StAnza 2021 will take place from 10 to 14 March offering a dynamic mix of audio and digital, live-streamed, virtual and pre-recorded events. As ever we’ll work to two themes, fittingly ‘Make It New’; and some light verse with ‘No Rhyme nor Reason’, because we all need a reason to laugh; and as 2021 is the 30th anniversary of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, our translated language focus, ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’, will be on languages from the former Eastern bloc.
The new format festival will still include traditional StAnza favourites such as readings and round table events, but we also plan new events capturing the full potential of the digital realm, including interactive poetry installations, ‘At Home’ events with poets and an enhanced filmpoem and sound poem programme. We are also working on a series of events which can be enjoyed by those with little or no access to the internet. We hope to be able to offer a few live outdoor events, though this will depend on what happens about Covid and regulations for events; we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed, but also prepared for everything to be delivered online if need be.
Throughout the pandemic, people have turned to poetry as a way of dealing with these unusual circumstances, illustrating the impact poetry has on our wellbeing and emotional lives. StAnza 2021 will celebrate this profound relevance showcasing a wide range of poetry, from page to performance, concrete verse to spoken word, established artists to emerging voices – committed as ever to the fact that when it comes to poetry there really is something for everyone. We are also well aware that a festival has to be more than the sum of its events, that a community is created around each festival, and we will do our very best to ensure that we manage that next March, albeit in different ways. We really hope you’ll join us on this journey towards a differently rewarding festival experience.
And as this is National Poetry Day, we'd like to offer you a poem. Here is one we came across recently, by a Latvian poet Knuts Skujenieks. This link is to the Lyrikline website, where you can find this and many more poems to read and listen to.
Happy National Poetry Day!
We asked eight poets from this year's festival for their top tip for writing good poems. The variety of ways in how they approached this, both in terms of the advice they gave and how they gave it, has delighted and impressed us. We've been sharing these as they came in over the past couple of months but now we've collated them together to share with you here.