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StAnza International Poetry Festival

Events: StAnza 2013

Following the popularity last March of our first all-day workshop at Balmungo House, the home of the renowned twentieth-century artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, this year the festival kicked off with not one but two Balmungo workshops, from 10.30am to 4.00pm on 5th and 6th March, both tying in with our festival themes for 2013 Poetry by Design and Legacy & Place. In the former, we considered the broad spectrum of poetic form and how poetry itself is designed, as well as looking at relationships between poetry and other types of design..

For our second theme, as celebrations for the 600th anniversary of Scotland’s oldest University approach their conclusion, we considered what poetry inherits from the past, what it can gift to the future, and the particular legacy tied up in place, not least in St Andrews with its long and significant history. However we also looked at ‘place’ in a wider context. StAnza 2013 featured a strong focus on Welsh poetry, a line-up of three Canadian poets and, going even further afield, we marked the bicentenary of the birth of David Livingstone, through a collaboration with the Badilisha Poetry X-change, bringing together poets from Scotland and Africa. 2013 is also the Year of Natural Scotland and poetry’s engagement with nature and the environment was a recurring topic throughout the festival in a range of events and exhibitions.   

We welcomed as headline poets at StAnza 2013 the Welsh National Poet, Gillian Clarke along with Scotland’s own Makar, Liz Lochhead, Robin Robertson who read with Paula Meehan from Ireland, from across the Atlantic, Mark Doty from the US who read with this year’s Poet in Residence, Canadian Erín Moure, also poet and climber Andrew Greig, and for a Saturday night performance special, the ever popular John Hegley. They were joined by poets from Palestine, Iceland, Germany, Romania, Australia, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden and Singapore, along with poets from across Scotland and the UK, as well as visual artists, musicians, actors, film-makers and other writers.

Performance events included Jacobean music from the Fires of Love quartet as well as Martin Dimery’s Shakespeare, Rattle & Roll, and there was drama in a rehearsed reading of Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion, when Young Lochinvar came a StAnza stage, and a re-enacting of Dunbar and Kennedy’s famous Flyting. Other special events included a European Poetry special chaired by George Szirtes, experimental poetry from Iceland and England, and from Ireland a dazzling multimedia journey through Dublin in words, music and image for our gala opening night. 

As ever, as part of the diversity of StAnza, there was be plenty of lighter entertainment on the programme as well, with cabaret performances every lunchtime from leading performers such as Luke Wright just part of our Poetry Café strand. From Poetry Breakfast panel events over coffee and pastries to late night poetry and music events in the Byre Bar Bistro, along with a plethora of workshops, exhibitions, talks and cross-media performances, StAnza 2013 offered something for everyone.

Eleanor Livingstone, Director

Online brochure for StAnza 2013 available here

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