November Newsletter

Sunday 4 November 2018

As nights are drawing in and autumn arrives, we’re delighted to look ahead to spring as we bring you the first news on StAnza 2019, which will take place from 6 – 10 March next year (plus a workshop on 5 March). We also have for you today a bumper newsletter with details of our Book Week Scotland event on 20 November and a round-up of other forthcoming poetry events in Dundee, St Andrews and Edinburgh.

A recent press release revealed some of the headline acts who will take part at StAnza in March. In keeping with our reputation of being a truly international affair, next year’s programme will not disappoint, featuring poets from all over the world who will travel to join many more from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Among the headline voices performing at next year's annual festival is poet, artist and film-maker, Imtiaz Dharker, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry in 2014. She is joined by award-winning Jamaican poet and essayist, Ishion Hutchinson and Welsh poet, playwright, columnist, and editor Menna Elfyn. Also on the programme for 2019 is Caroline Bird, shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Award and the Ted Hughes Award in 2017.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour. Next year’s themes are Off the Page and Another Place. The dedicated language/culture focus for 2019 will be the Mediterranean and Beyond. We will also be engaging with Scotland’s Year of Conversation.

Dozens of poets will be taking part in StAnza, along with many musicians, visual artists and filmmakers bringing the town of St Andrews alive with poetry, music and art for five days in March, and I look forward to revealing further details of our exciting 2019 programme over the coming months.

Meantime, you don't need to wait until next March as StAnza will be taking part again in Book Week Scotland later this month. To celebrate BWS, which this year is exploring the theme of 'rebellion', we're running a workshop with the award-winning poet Hugh McMillan.

Join us as we read and write poetry on the theme of rebellion. We’ll be asking how poets have historically responded to and engaged with protest in their times – be it political, social or religious – in order to explore how poetry can be political without being polemical. We’ll then use this as a starting point to produce new work.

Hugh McMillan has seen his work published widely in Scotland and beyond. He’s won a number of awards for his poetry, most recently the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2017, and has published six full-length collections, in addition to numerous pamphlets. His most recent collection, Heliopolis, appeared in 2018. Here are the details:

When - 11:00 - 13:00, Tuesday 20 November
Where - Public Library, Church Square, St Andrews
Tickets - free but ticketed, please email, or phone 07391 247 661

In Dundee next weekend, Cooper Gallery in Dundee offer a free oral poetry workshop with poet JL Williams who led one of the StAnza workshops last March. The workshop connects with their current exhibition, Great Noises that Fill the Air, by artist collective Bow Gamelan Ensemble. Full info about the workshop can be found here; and participants can sign-up by emailing

Pages of the Sea is a unique moment to say goodbye, together, to the millions of men and women who left these shores during the war, many never to return. Film-maker Danny Boyle invites us to join him in a project to mark 100 years since Armistice and the end of the First World War. On West Sands in St Andrews on 11 November between 12.00 to 2.30pm a portrait of an individual from the First World War will emerge from the sand. And then, as the tide rises, we'll watch as it's washed away. Similar events will take place elsewhere in the UK.

Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem especially for the moment, to be read by individuals, families and communities on the day of the 11th.

There are more great poetry events coming up at Toppings in St Andrews in November, starting with Don Paterson on 6th November, Kathleen Jamie on 8th November, and then readings from the popular and much missed Jim Stewart's posthumous collection This on 14th November.

Jim was a regular attendee at StAnza and took part in the festival in 2016. Kirsty Gunn writes a foreword to the collection, describing it as “testament to the poet Jim Stewart's singular and distinctive way of being in the world.” WN Herbert, the Dundee Makar, says of it:

‛THIS serves to establish Jim Stewart, with a single volume, as one of the most significant Scottish poets of the last decade.’

More information on this launch of This and all the Toppings events at andrews/

The ties between Scotland and Norway are traditionally marked each Christmas. This year on 18th November, events will this year include a free poetry and music evening with Christine De Luca and Norwegian poet, translator and musician Odd Magne Goksøyr. Full information is online here.

Further on the WW1 theme, Robyn Marsack will be giving a talk at the SPL on Thursday 22 November about Edmund Blunden and WWI, to mark the publication of her edition of his Selected Poems, and will also be in conversation with his daughter, Margi, about the aftermath of the war and living with a WWI veteran.

Finally, this weekend the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival takes place in Suffolk, and in Edinburgh there’s been more poetry at the Radical Book Fair at the Lighthouse in Edinburgh.