Talking poetry with StAnza 2021's Burning Eye Poets

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Our guest editors for the day, Burning Eye Books, interview some StAnza 2021 poets.

Burning Eye has a strong connection with StAnza. Many of our poets have appeared at the festival in the nine years we have been publishing including Jemima Foxtrot, Vanessa Kisuule, Paula Varjack, Kirsten Luckins, Ash Dickinson, Selina Nwulu and Scott Tyrrell. This year is no different, with three poets published by Burning Eye: Raymond Antrobus, Hannah Raymond-Cox and Desree.

We published Raymond Antrobus’ debut pamphlet in 2012 but it was his trailblazing Penned in the Margins' collection The Perseverance in 2018 that bagged him wide acclaim and a hat full of prizes. With a new collection due this year from Picador we asked Ray whether he felt a weight of expectation in following such a successful book:

"To be honest," he said, "I haven't thought about the noise around the success of The Perseverance. I've just aligned myself with the next book I had to write that felt urgent for me. It's called All The Names Given and loosely examines the life of my grandfather, who was a preacher, and my mother, as well becoming newly married, which was a surprise for me. The real theme of the book is time, history and intimacy. It's coming out with in September and I can't wait for it to be in the world."

Watch Raymond Antrobus' Poetry Centre Stage, which goes live on Thursday at 7:30.

Hannah Raymond-Cox’s collection Amuse Girl was one of the highlights of our 2019 list. As she prepared to MC this year’s StAnza Slam - Sleepover Style, we asked Hannah whether the last year had changed the course of her writing:

"The last year allowed me to really focus on what kind of poetry I wanted to write," she said. "I was coming to the tail end of my time as a Barbican Young Poet, where I had the chance to see a cross-section of poets’ work, and learn what I responded to creatively. I have been steadily moving into interactive and immersive work across all my artistic practices, and decided that I would want my poetry to do the same, to push boundaries of form. Audio and visual stimulus is very fun, but in a world where live arts have been severely impacted, I wanted to think about sustainable and accessible poetry that speaks to an audience hungry for narrative choice. With that in mind, I’ve been developing an interactive digital and physical poetry installation game centred on memory loss and grief with Jeff Tanton at Mediatonic."

Watch the StAnza slam on Saturday night, and check out Hannah's interactive poetry tour of St Andrews.

We will publish Desree’s book I Find My Strength in Simple Things in May. She will be performing in Sunday’s Poetry Café, a lunchtime slot regularly filled in recent years by a Burning Eye poet. We asked her what she felt were the best characteristics of the performance poetry world:

"The community," she said. "There is a sense of family within the performance poetry world that comes with seeing people, often, more than twice a week. That coupled with the fact that a lot of the time due to the nature of our work, it means that we tend to know a lot about each other. Another thing that I love about the performance poetry world is that, in the dark rooms, sometimes in the basement of pubs, is where revolution feels possible. Though it can often be described as an echo chamber (and don’t get me wrong, it can be), it can provide the fuel to go out into the wider world and demand change."

Check out Desree's Poetry Cafe, which goes live on Sunday at 1pm.