Sunday: the festival finale

Monday 6 March 2017

The final wine photo from StAnza 2017: to the fabulous sounds of the Ekobirds

The final wine photo from StAnza 2017: to the fabulous sounds of the Ekobirds

All good things must come to an end… 

In some ways, it feels as though this year’s festival lasted for weeks – every day was packed full of several days worth of events, so that I started to feel as though I had always been at StAnza. Then Sunday arrived and suddenly I was wondering how it had all gone so quickly. 

Compared to the frenzy of Saturday, trying to concertina myself into as many events as possible, Sunday had a kind of easy calm. Perhaps it was the early onset of end-of-festival Blues, or perhaps people’s brains were just saturated with so much wonderful poetry – but all day you could see volunteers, participants and audience members sitting on the comfy red sofas in the Byre, or having coffee downstairs, enjoying the calm and soaking up the feel of just being there. 

But of course, it wasn’t just a day for sitting around on the outside of the events. On the final day of StAnza 2017, I attended five events. 

The first was, of course, Poetry Breakfast. Powered by much-needed coffee and delicious Fisher & Donaldson pastries, we settled into the cosy armchairs of the Studio Theatre. 

The morning’s discussion centred around translation, in the sense of movement across from one language to another, but also around the collaborative nature of translating. As Aurelia Lassaque put it, ‘When you write, you are very alone, and collaboration is a way of first sharing your work.’ Claudia Daventry, who chaired the event, described translation as the child of two creative minds: the poet and the translator. ‘The translation,’ she said, ‘always has the ghost of the translator in it.’ 

Though of course, it also carries the spirit of the original writer. As Jean Portante said, ‘You are never translating a language into another language. You are translating the language of one poet, and every poet has his own. Rimbaud is not writing in French, he is writing in Rimbaud.’

This notion of every poet having their own language continued into my second event of the day: the Clydebuilt Showcase. Four poets, who have all come through the Clydebuilt mentoring programme, performed their work amid the grandeur of the Town Hall Council Chamber. 

One of the things I always find fascinating about StAnza is the diversity of voices, and the diversity of styles. Like a microcosm of the festival as a whole, each of the poets at the Showcase was very distinct in their style, and spoke to the audience – to that poetry-receiving part of our brain – in a different way: even more impressive given that they had all come through the same mentoring programme. 

Continuing the theme of different voices, the day wouldn’t have been complete with the Loud Poets showcase to start the evening off. Curated by Kevin McLean and Katie Ailes (whose name is so similar to my own, it’s led to a bit of confusion this festival…) the Loud Poets is a Scottish poetry collective, creating events that are enjoyed by both ‘poetry-people’ and ‘non-poetry-people’ alike. Accompanied by the Ekobirds, the a selection of poets took the audience on another journey through varying styles and voices and subject matter – right across the whole range of our emotions. We left the Studio Theatre feeling energised and passionate, and ready for the night ahead. 

Which was a good thing, because the night ahead blew me away. 

The final Centre Stage event of this year’s festival featured Vahni Capildeo and Elaine Feinstein. Although very different in their styles, both poets spoke with a wry humour that worked in synergy with the strength and power of their poetry, and that complemented each other’s readings, creating the perfect Centre Stage to round off the festival. 

Out into the Byre bar for a well-deserved glass of wine, and dancing to the energy-packed sounds of the Ekobirds. As we whirled and stomped and swung around on the dance-floor, it was as if all the rhythm and language and thought of the past few days came out in pure joyous movement – movement that will hopefully carry us forward, through whatever dark times the world might offer up, until we come together again next year. 

By Katie Hale, officially signing off as In-House Blogger for StAnza 2017. Thanks for reading!


Eleanor Livingstone's closing speech of StAnza 2017

Eleanor Livingstone's closing speech of StAnza 2017