From 1 April the StAnza 2021 festival content on this page is no longer available.
Some of our favourite events are all about bringing poetry off the page, so we are delighted to have Poems Aloud return to StAnza for another year, albeit in a brand new format. The University of St Andrews Library developed Poems Aloud in response to Poetry Out Loud in the US: a project that made an impact on digital audiences and demonstrated the power and success of poetry delivered well.
About the participants
My name is Ellie King and I am a current student at St Andrews University, studying Sustainable Development and German. Poetry for me has always been a way to create dialogue between author and reader, where common threads of thought and interpretation can blend and intertwine like a private conversation between old friends, even though our lives may be hundreds of years apart. Spoken poetry is beautiful in that it brings those conversations from the imagined into the real; they speak to you with the shape of the words, and you speak back with intonations, pacings and pauses. I have personally struggled with mental wellbeing in the past, and I find voice in these poems that I can use to paint and make peace with my struggles. That's what poetry is to me.
As far as a 'short paragraph about me' goes, I instantly connected with this poem because of its wistful premise. I come from a very rural part of Northumberland and I've always been interested in becoming a well-travelled, 'cultured' person -- at fourteen, my life's ambition was to be 'glamorous'! My dad is a travel-writer, so watching him jet off to far-flung places I'd never heard of before, while I stayed at home doing Physics homework, felt particularly bitter to my high school self. As I'm sure it is the case for lots of people, the desire to travel and experience new things has really been exacerbated by the pandemic for me. A few days before I heard about the competition, I was listening to the radio and some students were being interviewed in Antwerp and I remember suddenly feeling a sense of loss that I would never be a student in Antwerp and go to supermarkets and eat chips and mayonnaise! I love to write, so I think inhabiting made up characters will have to do for now, while I sit in my childhood bedroom in Northumberland.
Salma Ali is a 4th year Biochemistry student, who enjoys writing poetry. She was recently published in the PANK Magazine Azza fi Hawak folio, along with other Sudanese writers.
The poems performed are 'The Ground' by Caroline Bird from The Air Year (Carcanet, 2020) 'In Wales, wanting to be Italian' by Imtiaz Dharker from Over the Moon (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), and 'Plainspeak' by Astrid Alben from Plainspeak (Prototype Publishing, 2019).
Presented in partnership with the University of St Andrews Library