Poetry Map of Scotland: poem no. 321

Tuesday 14 July 2020, 15:25

Faces Land, North Ellen Street, Dundee

Here in Visage Land
all the gargoyles, spouts, grotesques
have flown from their buttresses
in a rooftop flit
leaving the haunt of ecclesiastics
to down-size in old age
closer to the shops.
Bereft of holy observances,
they stare uneasily
from this tenement block.
It will take time before
they find their feet
in a place as new as this.
Neil Leadbeater

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Categories: Poetry Map

Homefound: take part in this crowd-sourced poem!

Saturday 11 July 2020, 15:59

(c) Catherine Wilson

We're delighted to be working with the poet Catherine Wilson who is creating a special crowd-sourced poem for StAnza, with your help! You can listen to her explain it in this video, or read about it here. So, over to Catherine!

"Hello, my name is Catherine Wilson and I'm an Edinburgh-based spoken word poet and writer and I'm working on a project where I need YOUR words! I'm creating a crowd-sourced, scavenger hunt digital poem.

How does that work? I'm very glad that you asked.

I'm working on a project called Homefound which aims to connect with people who are shielding or struggling to leave the house for whatever reason to show how far a word can travel, even when we can't.

If you want to join in then here's how you do it. Step 1: I want you to think about what's made you happy during lockdown. It could be as big as connecting with your family or as small but, equally important, as having a cheese toastie for lunch.

Once you've got a word or phrase in your head, you're ready to move onto Step 1.

This is where the scavenging comes in!

I want you to take a metaphorical photograph. That's just a really fancy way of me saying "a photo that represents what you're talking about... but isn't of what you're talking about."

Let me explain. If what's been keeping you happy during lockdown is something like "sunshine". You could submit a photo of sunscreen or sunglasses or something round and yellow or the big light turned on in your living room. The odder the better, though bonus points if you find something you thought you'd lost whilst hunting through your house.

If you're able to go outside you can take your photos whilst you're out and about or you can do it entirely within your own home, it's up to you.

When you've got your word and you've got your photo you're going to submit them to me, and I'm going to put them together into one big poem.

You need to email them to

Don't forget to attach your photo and don't forget to mention your word or phrase in the body of the email.

We'd also love to hear a little bit about you, maybe your name and where in the world you're sending your word from.

So to recap:
Step 1 - think of a word or phrase that sums up what's made you happy during lockdown
Step 2 - take a metaphorical photograph of it
Step 3 - submit both to

So what are you waiting for? We've all been saying lockdown is the perfect time to write a novel, so why not contribute to an online poem.

Thank you so much for listening to me talk about my project and get excited about poetry. And thank you too to StAnza Poetry Festival for supporting this project through their Micro Commissions. I cannot wait to create a poem with you all!"

And here's that video again.

Categories: News

Top tips from Gerry Cambridge and Anthony Anaxagorou

Saturday 11 July 2020, 15:26

Continuing with our top tips for writing good poems from poets who took part at this year's festival, we can now share videos from Gerry Cambridge, Anthony Anaxagorou and Jen Hadfield. We hope you find these are interesting as we did!

Gerry Cambridge's top tips

Anthony Anaxagorou's top tips

Silent Words, by Jen Hadfield

And so you have them all easily accessible, here are the earlier top tips (this time in audio versions) from John Glenday and Shehzar Doja.

Categories: News, Digital

Creativity challenge, with feedback from Juana Adcock

Monday 6 July 2020, 10:01

Our workshop with Polly Atkin has proved very popular, we had 10 emails within a couple of hours of sending out the newsletter, however the good news is that we plan to arrange a further workshop this month, so more news on that soon.

Meantime, along with partners we're offering the opportunity for up to 20 people to have a new poem critiqued by the acclaimed poet Juana Adcock, whose current collection was a PBS choice in 2019. Our collaboration with St Andrews Museums has a poetry focus for July and Juana will give feedback on the first 20 poems submitted which are written in response to this month's prompt. You can get full information online at this link: Please be sure to read the guidelines.

You will see that you are invited to write a poem responding to the lithograph of a polar bear by the Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Fridtjof Nansen. You can read more about him at this link:

Once you've written your poem, send it to us at by Monday 13 July at the latest. We will send the first 20 received to Juana Adcock who has agreed to read them and offer feedback.

If you'd value some suggestions on how to write a good poem by some of this year's poets at StAnza, we've asked several to share their top tips, and you can hear what John Glenday had to say here, and what Shehzar Doja had to say here.

We will share information on our second summer workshop shortly. Meantime, while we work on our gallery of festival photographs, we've shared photographs from Carolyn Forché's reading with a link to an audio recording of her reading, offering a chance to re-live some moments from that wonderful event. You can see and hear this on our recent blog post.

Categories: News

Carolyn Forché at StAnza: photos by David Vallis Photography

Saturday 4 July 2020, 15:24

(c) David Vallis Photography

Selecting photographs from the festival to share is usually a post-festival highlight for us. This year it has been a bittersweet experience, remembering those wonderful poets, events and moments from StAnza 2020, aware how much things have changed since then - and the change began just a couple of weeks after our festival finale, feeling so sorry for other festivals which couldn't go ahead as planned, and sorry too that we haven't been able to attend them. However, hearing how memories of this year's festival have sustained people through the hard months ahead has been poignant and heartwarming, and of course we want to share these photographs with them and with everyone. So, we're creating our usual flickr gallery and you'll soon be able to re-live the whole festival there.

And this year, instead of just sharing the photographs, we'd like to offer a bit more of a taste of some of those amazing events in early March, starting with the wonderful Carolyn Forché who gave us such a memorable Poetry Centre Stage performance. Here are photographs of that, but also a link to Carolyn reading once of the poems she read for us, so you can hear her voice as you enjoy the photographs, and thanks to David Vallis Photography for them. 

Carolyn Forché reads The Boatman

You can read more about Carolyn Forché here, and find more of her poems here. And if you didn't manage to get a copy in March, you can buy her latest collection, In the Lateness of the World, from StAnza's booksellers, J & G Innes. If you can't get to the shop, email them at and they can order it for you and post it out! 

Categories: News

Top tips from top poets (2)

Thursday 2 July 2020, 15:47

Photo: Brian Cook

We have asked several of the poets who took part at this year's festival for their top tips for writing a good poem and we'll be sharing their thoughts on this over the coming weeks. We hope you'll enjoy listening to them as much as we have. Today, we're sharing advice from Shehzar Doja, who read at this year's first Border Crossing event.

Categories: News, Digital
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