The summer of outstanding poetry continues with the announcement of the shortlist for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition, chosen this year by Vicki Feaver and Kona MacPhee, both of whom have appeared recently at StAnza. The shortlisted poets are Gill Andrews (above), Sarah Jackson, Lydia MacPherson, Jane McKie and Jane Yeh. The poets on the Commended list are Aileen Ballantyne, Ian Crockatt, Paula Cunningham, Sarah Jackson and Helen Mort. You can read the poems and the judges' comments on the competition website, and vote for your favourite from both lists. The results will be announced at a special event on 17th August during the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
SAnza’s inaugural Summer Open Mic took place last night in Zest Juicing and Coffee Bar in St Andrews. This was our second joint venture with the lovely people at Zest, following the great success of the Early Evening Open Mic held in the same venue during last March’s festival. This time around, over fifty people braved the changeable Fife summer weather for a splendid couple of hours of coffees and smoothies, cakes and cookies, songs and poetry.
The event was run in collaboration with the University of St Andrews Creative Writing Summer School programme, and so as well as local poets from Fife and Tayside (a mixture of familiar faces and new arrivals), and the course tutors and staff, there was also an international feel to the evening with a selection of aspiring young poets from New York, Philadelphia, California, Brazil, Columbia, Uruguay and elsewhere. Several of the students read poems they had written in workshops that very morning: from page to stage in under six hours, poetry doesn’t get much newer than that.
Our MC for the evening, Milton Balgonie, asked the people signing up for slots to supply “one fact about you”, and these included, in no particular order: “I’m a glider pilot”; “I spent yesterday at the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood”; “makes a mean risotto & is a devil with a chainsaw”; “I have curly hair”; “blankets frighten me”; and “once trained an emu to assist with handicapped children”.
We also had a passing poet who was on his way to dinner further along the street, but who noticed the open door (and the open mic), and so stepped in to read a poem.
And by the end, even the sun showed up again to close off a fine and fabulous evening for all.
Milton Balgoni will be MC at the Open Mic
Hosted by Milton Balgoni, the line-up will feature the best of local poetic talent, with contributions from students of the St Andrews Creative Writing Summer Programme. If you're in St Andrews and want to sign up for a slot, there might still be time: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Otherwise, just come along to the cafe for a listen – it's at 95 South Street – and to chill out with the crowd over a smoothie, a coffee and a snack from the Zest menu. It's what those long Scottish summer evenings are for.
Congratulations to Kona Macphee, who has just won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, for her collection 'Perfect Blue', published by Bloodaxe. Kona gave a reading at StAnza back in March. The Australian born poet now lives in Perthshire and this is her second collection.
The judges praised it thus: ‘It was a book that we found ourselves returning to. What impressed us most of all was the way that Macphee’s work combined clarity and depth with a surprising and sometimes unsettling view of the world.'
Celestial success for StAnza volunteer
We’ve mentioned before that StAnza volunteer Rachael Boast has just had her first collection published by Picador. And we've been following its success with great delight. ‘Sidereal’ has already created a buzz in the last few weeks, with poems and/or reviews in the Times, and the Independent and her book was reviewed this weekend by the Guardian. She will be reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Poetry lovers have plenty to look forward to at the Edinburgh International Book Festival which has just announced its programme for August. With a range of writers chosen to reflect the fast-changing times we live in, political change, ecology and the internet, the festival aims to give a snapshot of life and literature in the 21st century.
Liz Lochhead, Scotland's Makar
The line-up of present day poets features Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley, Robin Robertson, and Andrew Greig, David Harsent, and Robert Bringhurst and eminent Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. Among the new voices are Rachael Boast, a StAnza volunteer for several years, whose first collection has just been published by Picador, and Ryan van Winkle, Reader-in-Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library, who hosted the Golden Hour at StAnza earlier this year.
The Scottish Poetry Library (who, like the EIBF are partners to StAnza), have brought their successful series ‘Nothing But the Poem’, offering people the chance to read poetry in depth, without prior knowledge, and in a relaxed environment. Join them for a relaxed hour at the Writers Retreat: subjects include, of course, Sorley MacLean and Czelaw Milosz.
Other treats include poets on their prose writing: Don Paterson talking about sonnets, John Burnside on both his new poetry collection, Black Cat Bone and his new novel set in the Arctic; and Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts praise the beauty of modern wastelands.
All this, plus the announcement of the winners of two major awards: the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards (which have on the shortlist, Stewart Conn and Jackie Kay), and the Edwin Morgan Competition.
Tickets for the Edinburgh International Book Festival go on sale, 28 June. The festival runs from 13-29 August. For programme and booking details click here
StAnza is looking for a dynamic and creative Education Programme Co-ordinator to work with the Festival Director on the organisation’s Education Programme during the festival and throughout the year, and to devise and deliver other poetry-focused educational projects. The position is supported by Creative Scotland and will run initially for approximately eight months, from August 2011 to end March 2012. Applicants should have qualifications and experience in education at school level, a knowledge of poetry and enthusiasm for the arts.
This is a temporary, part-time freelance post for six to eight months on a contractual stipend equivalent to £5,000 per annum pro rata for the period of the contract, with the possibility of an extension. Start Date: August 2011.
For a full job description and more details, please contact Eleanor Livingstone at email@example.com. The post will be based in Fife and the deadline for applications is 12 noon on Friday 15th July.