It’s that time of year again. The birds are singing, the buds are blooming, there’s even a little bit of sunshine here and there. No, I’m not talking about spring. StAnza is here!
Yes, Scotland’s leading poetry festival is already in full swing. A national treasure, StAnza brings poets from around Britain and the world to St Andrews for 5 days of performances, panels and special events. The organisers are to be congratulated on putting together a fantastic line-up of beloved poets and new names sure to be taking up space on your bookshelves soon.
Many of the poets appearing have come though the SPL’s doorway at some point, when we tend to pounce on them and beg them to record a poem or two for us (so why don’t we link to some of them? Just click on the poet’s name). Sometimes we even make the poet a member of our board, as happened with Forward Prize-winner Kei Miller (appearing at StAnza on Sat 7, 10am, and 8pm).
A year and a half ago, Glyn Maxwell (Thu 5, 8pm) performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where we caught up with him. He told us about why actors make such good readers of poetry and the importance of Auden to his work. Coming from further afield, New Zealand’s Bill Manhire (Sat 7, 10am and Sun 8, 3.45pm and 8.00pm) was the subject of a SPL podcast last year (Gregory O’Brien recorded an interview with him and kindly emailed it to us from the other side of the world). Manhire’s performance at StAnza is a sort of homecoming; as he reveals in his interview, Manhire has Scottish ancestry.
Tom Pow (Fri 6, 10.00am and 2.25pm) is as seasoned a traveller as he is a poet, with much of his work – like his Dying Villages project – inspired by his trips. Alexander Hutchison travels far and wide in his imagination, as he demonstrated in the podcast he recorded with us last year, shortly before winning the Saltire Poetry Prize.
In addition to podcasts, the SPL has a Soundcloud page where we host recordings of individual poems. Last year, the poem that overwhelmingly got the most hits was Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca’s (Fri 6, 3.45pm and Saturday, 10.00am) conciliatory referendum poem ‘The Morning After’.
Mandy Haggith (Sun 8, 11.30am) took part in our Walking With Poets project, where we posted poets to Scotland’s botanical gardens. Mandy took up residence in Edinburgh’s during a surprisingly sunny (this is Scotland) June. After the project wound up, Mandy and the other poets spoke about the project in a special SPL podcast.
It would be very remiss of us not to mention that the SPL’s podcaster extraordinaire Ryan Van Winkle will be staging his amazing ViewMaster experience across the weekend at StAnza. We had the pleasure of experiencing it last August at the Edinburgh Fringe and if you’re in St Andrews, don’t miss it. A unique mixture of poetry and music, performed in a den made out of blankets, ViewMaster takes you round the world in 15 minutes. And if I’m mentioning Ryan, I better flag up performances by our Jennifer, a.k.a. Saltire Prize-nominated poet J.L. Williams (Fri 5pm, and Sat 7, 11.30am), with who we also – natch – bagged a podcast with last year.
The SPL is pleased to say it will have a presence at StAnza this year. If you see us, say hullo, take a flyer to two, and please, please donate to our building campaign. And if you can’t make it up to StAnza this year, worry not, as we’ll be recording poets for podcasts and another exciting project we hope to announce soon…
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The SPL needs to raise £120,000 for the building renovation which will hugely extend our reach. Your gift helps us to give: to lend books; to send books, poetry postcards and poets around Scotland; to record and send poets’ voices around the world; to bring people and poems together in care homes, schools, hospitals…
Every donation counts, so spread the word!
Text LEAF70 £5 to 70070 or visit our Just Giving page to donate any amount.