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StAnza International Poetry Festival

Events: StAnza 2012

StAnza celebrated its 15th annual festival with themes for 2012 of The Image and Poetry by Degrees. We brought these together in our first ever all-day poetry workshop at the home of the renowned twentieth-century artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and in collaborations with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design. More generally, we looked at the image in poetry, and at the poem as an image, with occasional references to the psychology of vision and perception and the role of the icon, all in the context of St Andrews’ significance in the history of photography.

For our second theme, to celebrate the 600th anniversary celebrations at Scotland’s oldest University, we not only developed our own education focus but also invited leading poets connected with creative writing programmes at other universities, including Lavinia Greenlaw, whom we were delighted to have as this year’s Poet in Residence. She was joined by poets from Poland, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, Canada, the USA, Palestine, Macedonia, Ireland and from across the UK, as well as visual artists, musicians, actors, film-makers and other writers.

We welcomed as headline poets Jackie Kay, Kathleen Jamie and Michael Symmons Roberts, who were joined by Chase Twichell, Christopher Reid, Kwame Dawes and Grace Nichols, the latter all new to StAnza, as well as a trio of Irish poets to mark the St Patrick’s Day weekend. We also focused on all that is avant-garde, experimental and cutting-edge in today’s poetry with a dedicated strand featuring poet and critic Keston Sutherland, the Dutch contemporary composer/poet Rozalie Hirs, and film-maker Alastair Cook.

As ever, as part of the diversity of StAnza, there was plenty of lighter entertainment on the programme as well, with cabaret performances every lunchtime featuring some of the UK’s leading performance poets and Open Mic events just part of our Poetry Café series of events, from Poetry Breakfast panel events over coffee and pastries to late night poetry and music events in the Byre Bar Bistro. There was even a chance for the lucky few to enjoy afternoon tea and cakes with Jackie Kay. Add to all that a Masterclass from David Morley, along with a plethora of workshops, exhibitions, talks and cross-media performances ensured that StAnza 2012 offered something for everyone.

Eleanor Livingstone, Director

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