Birdspeed: Poetry Cafe @ StAnza 2020
David Vallis Photography
Goodness, doesn’t StAnza 2020 seem a lifetime ago? Hard to believe how much the world has changed in the weeks and months since then. It’s been wonderful – if bittersweet – hearing from some of you how the poetry, the warmth and the encounters at the festival nourished and sustained you in the time that followed.
We’re leafing through the programme now with a sense of joy and loss and longing. So glad that we got to see Carolyn Forché and Mimi Khalvati read again and that we could meet the force of nature that is Joelle Taylor. So heartbroken for our fellow festival organisers elsewhere, who just weeks later saw months of passionate hard work unravel out of their reach.
If poetry is a touchstone, an amulet, a candle to carry into the darkness then we need it now more than ever. Perhaps for you that touchstone was Jay Bernard’s searing, electrifying performance, a powerful inditement of racism in the UK. Perhaps it was Yolanda Castano’s warm, wry reading which followed, building us all back up again after Bernard had torn us down, so that between the two of them they sent us out into the world as slightly different people. You might remember with wonder D.A. Powell’s hilarious, meandering reading or Jen Hadfield’s gentle, weighty one. Or maybe it was something completely different – the joyful singing of the almost prophetic parody of ‘Delilah’ (“Buy, buy, buy tomatoes!”) at our WrapperRhymes Meet the Artist.
Maybe you re-set your poetic compass with our theme of Due North and discovered new poetry and new translations from our Scandinavian neighbours. (Juana Adcock’s political, musical versions of the Swedish poet Ida Börjel have stayed with us.) Or maybe our theme of Coast Lines made you turn your gaze to poetry from the far-flung corners and islands of Scotland.
Personally, when we want to be warmed, we think back to that final night in the Byre as the whole theatre joined in singing. What a send-off. What an audience. Or we think of our volunteers – we had so many new faces in the team this year and they were so generous with their time, their thoughts, their work. And of course, we think of our marvellous poets and artists, each of whom, in their way, made us see the world a little bit different.
Wherever your StAnza journey led you, we’re glad you let us be travelling companions for a while.
Photos of poets and others taking part in StAnza 2020 and some of our favourite venue or atmosphere shots of St Andrews
Podcasts and Videos
Digital Festival Material
StAnza 2020 took place from 4-8 March, 2020
Our themes for StAnza 2020 were Coast Lines and Due North.
Funding for 2020
StAnza is funded by Creative Scotland, EventScotland, as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters, and Fife Council and supported by the University of St Andrews, the School of English and St Leonards, with additional support for 2020 from NORLA, the Norwegian Embassy in London, the Swedish Arts Council, the Goethe-Institut, the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Flanders Literature.