StAnza 2015 boasts a world-class lineup
- David Pollock
- 11 February 2015
St Andrews' international poetry festival features Simon Armitage, Bill Manhire and Alice Notley
‘There’s a long tradition of poetry festivals in St Andrews,’ explains Eleanor Livingstone, director of the town’s current incumbent StAnza. ‘It dates back to the 1970s, when the US writer Jay Parini, then studying at St Andrews University, started one.’
There were a couple of further attempts from poets Douglas Dunn and Nick Rowe, before the trio of friends Brian Johnstone, Gavin Bowd and Anna Crowe began StAnza in 1998.
Guests at that first instalment included John Burnside and the Irish poet Paul Durcan, the latter of whom is on a bill this year that also includes Simon Armitage, New Zealand poet laureate Bill Manhire and American poet Alice Notley.
There are also be a range of associated events over the five-day festival, including Bedazzled, a dramatic tribute to Dylan Thomas; the Saturday night StAnza Slam; and an appearance by Fife-raised actor and poetry reader Clive Russell.
Amid the 100-plus events across 23 venues there will be two themes: ‘Unfinished Business’, which turns the spotlight on classic poets, and ‘An Archipelago of Poetry’, which focuses on island poets from around the world.
‘St Andrews is a great location for a festival,’ says Livingstone. ‘It’s not just a beautiful town, but there are also a range of diverse, atmospheric venues all within walking distance, and plenty of accommodation. We’ve also got a strong food and drink focus, as the festival develops each year.’
Highlights of StAnza 2015:
Bedazzled – A Welshman in New York
An immersive dramatic tale of Dylan Thomas in New York, created for the Dylan Thomas 100 celebrations last year.
Byre Theatre, Wed 4 Mar.
American poet famed for her collection The Country Between Us about the disappeared of El Salvador, first reading and then discussing her friend, the late Mark Strand.
With Paul Durcan at Byre Theatre, Fri 6 Mar; with Ilya Kaminsky at Town Hall, Sat 7 Mar.
In Conversation: Clive Russell
The Ripper Street, Game of Thrones and Casualty actor, who grew up in Fife, discusses the influence of poetry on his life.
Byre Theatre, Sat 7 Mar.
One of Britain’s most iconic contemporary poets reads for an intimate audience of 12, then for a larger group in the Byre Theatre, as well as conducting a masterclass for aspiring poets.
The Green Room, St Leonard’s Quad, & Byre Theatre, Sat 7 Mar; StAnza Masterclass at Town Hall, Sun 8 Mar.
Former World Slam Champion, frequent broadcaster and ‘armchair revolutionary’ McGonagall MCs the Saturday night StAnza poetry slam, then hosts his own Poetry Café show.
StAnza Slam at Byre Theatre, Sat 7 Mar; Poetry Café at Byre Theatre, Sun 8 Mar.
Stanza takes place across various venues, St Andrews, Wed 4–Sun 8 Mar.