StAnza 2017 is officially launched!

Thursday 2 March 2017

StAnza 2017 is officially launched!

StAnza 2017 is officially launched!

'I live for two little words: Land Ahoy!' 

An orange emergency life belt, a mask, a couple of microphones and a light-up globe. The stage is set for John Agard's revolutionary one-man poetry show, Roll Over Atlantic. Enter John Agard himself, as Christopher Columbus, dressed in a gold cap and wheeling a battered pink shopping trolley. 

Roll Over Atlantic was the first Byre Auditorium event of the festival. We came into the theatre with our heads still full of the festival launch, of Sasha Dugdale’s wandering poem, ‘Kittiwake’, and of Aurelia Lassaque’s hauntingly beautiful voice. Our insides were still ringing with the uplifting sounds of the St Andrews University Scholarship Brass Ensemble. We were full of conversations had with glasses of wine in our hands. 

Cue John Agard, and a show spoken by Christopher Columbus, the Atlantic Ocean, and a singing etymological mythological mosquito in a top hat. What followed was an evening of comical, entertaining and thought-provoking performance – one that certainly challenged ideas of what a poetry show can be. 

One of this year's themes is On the Road. The other is The Heights of Poetry. Both of these themes carry the idea of a journey, of stepping out and reaching up, so it was fitting that the festival launched with talk of crossing borders, and forging links. As Sheena Wellington pointed out in her launch speech, StAnza turns 20 this year, and is on its own journey that started in 1998. With mention of that first StAnza poetry festival, it’s easy to see the theme of the journey applying to both space and time – something that will surely come out more in the festival’s ‘Past and Present’ and ‘Border Crossings’ events in the days to come. 

One of the lines from Roll Over Atlantic that particularly struck home for me was this: ‘For foreigner, they say my other heart.’ Or, as Festival Director, Eleanor Livingstone, said in her opening speech: StAnza is about building bridges, not walls. 

A packed evening, a sea full of familiar faces and meetings with new ones, and a plethora of poetry can only mean one thing: Stanza 2017 is officially underway. 

By Katie Hale, in-house blogger for StAnza 2017 


A backstage view of Roll Over Atlantic

A backstage view of Roll Over Atlantic