StAnza returns for its 21st year
- Alex Johnston
- 14 December 2017
Headliners include Sinead Morrissey, Ko Un, Gillian Allnutt and Douglas Dunn
StAnza, the international poetry festival based in St Andrews, returns in March 2018 with more than 80 readings, discussions and performances. The festival has two themes this year: 'The Self' and 'Borderlines', as well as a strand named 'Going Dutch' which examines the relationship between English and the closely related languages of Dutch, Frisian and Flemish.
Scotland's only poetry festival is celebrating its 21st birthday in style. Among the headliners are the multi-award-winning Sinead Morrissey; South Korean poet Ko Un, whose long life is almost as remarkable as his work; Irish poet Tara Bergin, whose much-praised first collection came out in 2014; Gillian Allnutt, who received the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 2016; the distinguished Irish-language poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill; and Scotland's very own former Makar, Liz Lochead.
By way of illustrating the theme of 'Self', poets Brian Johnstone and Anne Pia share a joint event on Fri 9 Mar, From Metaphor to Memoir, in which they talk about their new books Double Exposure and Language of my Choosing, which use memoir as well as poetry to talk about the writer's own pasts. Elsewhere, the Poetry Cafe on Sat 10 Mar will have a breakfast-time discussion about Interrogating the 'I' in Poetry, with Poetry International programmer Jan Baeke, poet Sara Hirsch and choreographer Luke Pell. The 'Borderlines' theme will be addressed by panels showing poems on those themes, which you can find scattered in shop and business windows around the town and beyond.
Douglas Dunn, one of Scotland's most eminent poets, gives an intimate and informal afternoon reading on Fri 9 Mar; only 12 places are available for this. Seamus Heaney's version of Beowulf has helped to spark an explosion of interest in Old English (although the early 00's revival of interest in Tolkien might also have had something to do with it), and Chris Jones of the University of St Andrews leads a workshop on the same day in 'kennings', compound words that take two separate things to illustrate a third thing: one modern example is 'rug-rat'.
There are, as usual, plenty of Open Mic opportunities to read your own poetry, including a Quiet Open Mic on the evening of Fri 9; many other readings, workshops, performances and writing showcases; and the festival winds up with a finale on the evening of Sun 11 Mar.
StAnza runs in various venues in St Andrews from Tue 6--Sun 11 Mar 2018.