Australian poet walks tall in St Andrews

Tuesday 26 October 2010, 10:32

Les Murray reading at Parliament Hall, St Andrews on 25th October 2010

More than a hundred people turned out to hear Australian poet Les Murray at Parliament Hall, St Andrews last night, leaving behind the cold Scottish night air for a journey to the Antipodes with this most astonishing of poets. Murray is part of the poetic ‘superleague’, regularly compared with Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. Among many awards, he has won the T. S. Eliot prize and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

During his relaxed and informal reading – mainly from his collected works and his new collection Taller when Prone, published in the UK by Carcanet – Murray demonstrated how, with his sometimes deceptively simple vernacular, he could sneak up and surprise you. By turns funny, satiric, moving and profound, his observations of rural life in Australia took in friends, neighbours and the natural world, from the Aboriginal figure of the moon man, to bushfires and dust storms. His eye for natural detail was evident in poems about a ‘window-struck’ kingfisher and a mute Russian Grey pet cat, ‘lapping up clay water’ in the poet’s garden. ‘Science Fiction’ was a deft tribute to Edwin Morgan and a reminder of Murray’s interest in his Scottish roots.

The evening was organised by the School of English at the University of St Andrews in association with StAnza and introduced by the Principal, Dr Louise Richardson. 

The poet Robert Crawford, Professor at the School of English, gave the closing address, commenting on how Murray’s poetry  ‘resonates so remarkably with the contemporary world.’ 

Categories: News

Australian poet Les Murray to visit St Andrews

Sunday 10 October 2010, 14:32

Les Murray will be reading in St Andrews this month.

If you would like to enjoy some world class poetry ahead of the StAnza extravaganza planned for March (see the blog post below), clear a space in your diary for 25 October when the outstanding Australian poet, Les Murray, will be giving a reading  in St Andrews, Fife. This is the first time the poet has been to the town since he appeared at StAnza back in 2000. The event is being hosted by the University of St Andrews’ School of English, in association with StAnza, and will take place at 7pm in the town’s historic Parliament Hall.

Murray is a poet of international standing and his work has been published in ten languages. Among his many awards, he won the T. S. Eliot Prize for Best Collection in 1996 and was awarded the Queen’s Medal in 1999, on the recommendation of the late Ted Hughes. Murray has strong connections with Scotland – his ancestors left the Highlands for Sydney in 1848 – and his poetry celebrates Scottish and Scottish Gaelic cultural influences in Australia. His latest collection, Taller When Prone, is to be published in the UK next month by Carcanet and copies will be available at his St Andrews event.

Tickets for the event are available on the door for (£5.00/£3.00). To reserve a ticket, email (NB reserved tickets must be collected by 6.40pm on 25th October).

Categories: News

StAnza's line-up for 2011 announced

Thursday 7 October 2010, 13:04

Ciaran Carson is one of the poets to appear at StAnza 2011

We are celebrating National Poetry Day by announcing our line-up of poets for the 2011 festival. Yes, we are working that far ahead! Here are just some of  the poets you can look forward to hearing next March. The full list is available on our website today and we will keep you up to date on the programme over the next couple of months: there are still surprises in store.

Ciaran Carson: the acclaimed poet from Northern Ireland has published nine collections, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2003. He is Director of the prestigious Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at the Queen’s University, Belfast.

Julia Donaldson: the hugely popular children’s author and poet, of ‘Gruffalo ‘ fame, who will be heading up the festival’s Children’s Programme.

Douglas Dunn: Scotland’s most eminent poet, he was awarded an OBE in 2003 and has been tipped as a possible successor to Edwin Morgan as Scotland’s Makar.

Paul Farley: the poet, playwright and broadcaster was one of the Poetry Society’s Next Generation Poets. His most recent poetry books are the collection, Tramp in Flames (2006) and The Atlantic Tunnel: Selected Works (2010). Field Recordings: BBC Poems 1998-2008 (2009), which encompasses his broadcast poetry was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

Selima Hill: one of Britain’s most imaginative poets, whimsical and disturbing, she tackles difficult subjects with a unique range of imagery. She has won many awards and been shortlisted for all three major poetry prizes in the UK.

Yang Lian: Brought up in Bejiing, and now living in London, Yang has published ten collections and his work translated into 20 languages. He is best known for his poetry sequences and long poems which are related to Classical Chinese poetry.

Fiona Sampson: a prolific editor and translator, whose interests include the relationship between poetry and health care, her latest collection, Rough Music (2010) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Poetry Collection). She is editor of the Poetry Review.

Other names on the list include Italy’s Antonella Anedda, Iraqi poet, Adnan Al Sayegh, Belgium’s sound and visual poetry group Krikri, and poets from the USA, Georgia and Australia. Scotland’s voices include John Burnside, Stewart Conn, Helena Nelson, Rab Wilson, Hugh McMillan and Tom Pow.

Categories: News

Mellow Fruitfulness

Wednesday 29 September 2010, 13:41

John Glenday reading at StAnza 2010

The late September sun shone on various poetry activities in Edinburgh last weekend. On Saturday the Scottish Poetry Library held their annual small press fair, By Leaves We Live. With plentiful stalls, all kinds of artists' books on show or for sale, and a lively programme of workshops and talks, it had something for everyone. Lots of people turned out for it.

Then on Sunday, Shore Poets got underway with their autumn programme. Heading the bill was John Glenday who was such a success at StAnza last March, with support from Alan Gillis, another StAnza favourite, and new poet Ross Wilson. Gerda Stevenson provided the music, and The Lot, Shore Poets' regular venue in the Grassmarket, was packed to capacity - an excellent start to the autumn season.

Categories: News

Patchwork Poem for National Poetry Day

Friday 24 September 2010, 07:38

Patchwork Poem from The National Poetry Society

Less than two weeks now to National Poetry Day. This year’s theme is “Home” and to celebrate North Carr Light would like to construct a Patchwork Poem or Cento on the theme for Scotland.  They are asking people to send them their own original poems on “home”, or even random lines or thoughts on the theme, from which they’ll create a Patchwork Poem.

For more information on how to send in your contributions, check their website.

Categories: News

The Troubadour International Poetry Prize Competition

Thursday 23 September 2010, 08:48

Anne-Marie Fyfe at StAnza 2010

Anne-Marie Fyfe of Troubadour Coffee House Poetry in London, who graced the stage at StAnza in March, has just sent us details of this year's Troubadour International Poetry Prize Competition. The judges are Gwyneth Lewis (who read at StAnza a couple of years ago) and the Irish poet Maurice Riordan. The closing date is 15 October, so there's still time to enter. First prize is £1,000.

The full competition and entry details are at

Categories: News
Subscribe to StAnza Poetry Festival Blog