MC Harry Giles
Fifteen poets were set to take part in the StAnza/Inky Fingers slam. Poetry competitions can be as fiercely contested as any, but this one, held as part of this month’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film festival (as well as fitting in with National Poetry Day and its Games theme), was billed as friendly and thanks to MC Harry Giles (the M is for magnanimous) the fast-moving, electric atmosphere in the Studio Theatre was inspiring. Poets brought up all sorts of subjects: love, sex, anti-depressants, the Coalition Government, supermarkets, men who don’t dance… strong competition indeed and the judges, Sophie Baker and Young Hawkins, descending unashamedly into sporting cliché after the first half, agreed it was ‘all to play for, Harry.’
We were live-tweeting the event and at least one follower was keeping track of the slam while watching the X Factor, but the tensions were rising far higher in St Andrews. The audience had cast their votes, the judges were ready to confer – but would those last three poets make it over the bridge? Yes, following a flurry of texts and ‘where are you now?’ and with seconds to spare, all three arrived, performed their slots and marvelled at their good luck.
More drama as the play-offs started and first –time slammer, Stewart Hogg, emerged as a finalist – good poetry slams are made of such discoveries. Both he and the eventual winner Claire Askew (both pictured) were treated to rapturous applause. All the contestants were awarded prizes to match their poems: fudge for the sweetest poem, a Bart Simpson mug for the scariest, a torch for the flashiest … everyone was a winner.
Our thanks to all the poets who took part Alec Beattie, Andy Jackson, Claire Askew, Stephen Welsh, Colin McGuire, Douglas John McLean Cairns, Jonny Lovett, Mairi Campbell Jack, Rose Fraser, Rory Woodroffe, Matt Macdonald, Stewart Hogg, Nicola Watt, Robin Smith and Gill Andrews, And of course to the enthusiastic audience.
St Andrews has much to celebrate in the Forward Prizes for Poetry this year.
Our congratulations to StAnza regular John Burnside, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews, whose Black Cat Bone won the prize for Best Collection last night; and also to StAnza volunteer Rachael Boast, who studied for a PhD in Creative Writing at the university, and whose Sidereal was a richly deserved winner of the prize for Best First Collection. The prize for Best Single Poem was awarded to the late R. F. Langley for 'To a Nightingale'.
Rachael will be reading at the West Port Book Festival on Saturday, 15 October, and we are delighted to announce that she will also be appearing at StAnza next March.
A full list of the poets for StAnza 2012 will be published on our website later today.
Edinburgh’s best kept secret is the Westport Book Festival, held among the bookshops, pubs and trendy art spaces in the city’s answer to Soho. Starting next Thursday, 13 October and running till Sunday 16th, the festival in its new autumn guise offers a varied and witty programme: new and established talents (the sort of people, such as Janice Galloway, who sell out at the summer festivals can be seen here in smaller, more intimate venues), open mics, plus a spot of book binding and tea dancing.
There’s plenty of poetry to enjoy, including a smattering of folk familiar to StAnza: book a place at Jo Bell’s workshop , catch readings by Rachael Boast, William Letford, Tracey S Rosenberg and Emily Dodd, or listen to Bruce Durie chat about what is thought to the first poem in Scots.
Check the full programme and take advantage of the generous ticketing system: 40 per cent of tickets are available in advance, the rest on the day. All tickets are free! The festival website is a mine of information: www.westportbookfestival.org
National Poetry Day is on Thursday and StAnza's unique contribution to the celebrations take place on Saturday. There's still time to book a ticket!
Risk-A-Verse is a fast-paced poetry slam we've organised with our friends in Edinburgh, the fabulous Inky Fingers, spoken word collective. Fourteen poets are slotted to pit their wits against each other, with a hand-picked panel of discerning judges and the audience to decide on the winners. No one will be on their best behaviour and bad puns will be awarded prizes. The fun begins at 7.30pm at the Byre Theatre on Saturday 8 October. Tickets, £3 (£2) are available from the box office, 01334 475000.
Risk-a-verse is being held as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival
This Thurday, 6th October, is National Poetry Day, 2011 in the UK, with a theme this year of "Games". StAnza's contribution to this is our Friendly Slam at The Byre Theatre in St Andrews next Saturday, 8th October, in partnership with Inky Fingers, when we'll have great fun with the Games theme. The National Poetry Day website has a What's On listing if you want to find out what might be happening near you.
We have been sent details of various activities taking place, including a re-dediation event at the Poetry Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow at around 1.00 pm. The Poetry Garden was built ten years ago as part of Japan 2001. For its 10th anniversary, it has been relocated to a more prominent position at the top of the hill within the Botanic Gardens, next to the small pavilion above the flagpole and the Rose Garden. We hope they have sunshine, but if it rains, it will move indoors. The Consul-General of Japan will be present at a Japanese tea party and there will be readings from Tom Leonard and Katherine Sowerby.
StAnza took part in a worldwide round of poetry readings on Saturday 24th September, organised by the World Poetry Movement. A small but beautifully assembled group of poetry folk gathered in the sunlit Byre Theatre, surrounded by a hefty pile of books and plenty of coffee to replenish us during an afternoon of informal readings and chat.
Ours was just one of 874 poetry readings and events in 540 cities in 107 countries that were planned, with the emphasis on promoting peaceful international links.
And indeed, from our comfy chairs, we managed to cross oceans and continents, choosing poetry that was new to us, inspiring, or by poets we knew and wanted to share. From the Seine to Struga, from Palestine to the shores of California, it was quite a journey. And, in the spirit of Cavafy, having enjoying the travelling, we might set out on another trip soon.
The World Poetry Movement (WPM) was founded in Medellín (Colombia) on July 9, 2011, and includes 108 international poetry festivals, 88 poetry projects and 1.016 poets from 126 countries.