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Stanza 2007

14 - 18 March 2007, St Andrews

StAnza celebrates it's 10th Birthday
StAnza Poetry Boat - Homelands and Exile
Poetry and the Moving Image
International Poets
UK Poets

StAnza celebrates it's 10th Birthday

StAnza, Scotland’s poetry festival, marks its tenth birthday this year with a programme that celebrates the impact it has made over the past decade.  From fairly modest beginnings, StAnza has established itself as a highlight of the literary calendar, attracting major poets from home and abroad.

The festival will run for five days rather than the usual four, in order to fit in a bigger 'birthday' programme.  This is thanks to the Scottish Arts Council, StAnza's principal funder, and the Fife Council Events Programme, which is supporting a series of 10th birthday special events.

Chief among these is a marathon reading session, the 100 Poets Gathering, all in the space of one afternoon.  According to the organiser, poet Jim Carruth, 'To our knowledge, this is the first time in Scotland so many poets have appeared together under one roof'.

Film Still; Photo: StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival

StAnza Poetry Boat - Homelands and Exile

StAnza prides itself on its international outlook, and this year’s main theme, Homelands and Exile, appeals to many of the invited poets with varied cultural backgrounds, from George Szirtes, to Jack Mapanje, Imtiaz Dharkar and newcomer Daljit Nagra.

Poetry boat 'Reaper'; Photo: StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival

Down in St Andrews harbour, the StAnza poetry boat, the historic vessel The Reaper, launches the main theme on Friday 16 March. It welcomes visitors on board to experience sight and sound installations on maritime themes by poets Robert Alan Jamieson and Alan Gay.

Poetry and the Moving Image

StAnza’s other theme, Poetry and the Moving Image develops Stanza’s forays into visual art, with short films, film installations and specially commissioned video projections.

To add movement to the visual feast, there’s the unique and powerful Contemporary Dance Association from Slovakia, whose Love in Bilingual Motion, is an extravaganza  of poetry, music, dance and light effects.

Dancer; Photo: StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival

International Poets

Among a larger than ever roster of poets reading this year, StAnza is particularly delighted to welcome two Pulitzer Prize winning poets from the USA.

Mark Strand is a former Poet Laureate and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He has written ten collections of poetry including A Blizzard of One, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.  He currently teaches at Columbia University and is also well-known as an essayist and translator.

Jorie Graham; Photo: StAnza: Scotland's Poetry Festival

Jorie Graham is Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University and, like Strand, has had a distinguished career as a poet. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1996, with The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994. Her most recent collection, Overlord (2005) is a powerful meditation on the Normandy landings in 1944, where she lives for part of each year, which she also links with present day concerns about war and a fragile environment.

The poet George Szirtes will deliver this year’s StAnza Lecture, which has become a platform for informed and sometimes controversial  debate. 

Born in Hungary, Szirtes came to England as an eight-year-old refugee after the Hungarian Uprising in 1956.  His poetry collection, Reel, which won the TS Eliot Prize in 2004, explores the nature of memory and displacement, using film among its metaphors.  Szirtes has taken to the podium before, in 2005, he gave the prestigious annual TS Eliot Lecture in London. 

UK Poets

Other  important voices taking part in the festival include the eminent Scottish poets Jackie Kay and Alastair Reid, translator of Neruda and Borges.  Former Welsh Poet Laureate Gwyneth Lewis will be StAnza’s Writer-in-Residence.  Poets Roy Fisher and Mimi Khalvati, Matt Harvey and John Hegley are also among those to be heard at the Byre Theatre evening readings. 

The Voices in Scotland series includes Gaelic poets Aonghas Macneacail and Anne Frater, and Scots poets William Hershaw and Janet Paisley. Not to be missed is the premiere of a new musical suite based on the work of Scots poet Marion Angus.

The poems will be read by Aimée Chalmers (editor of  The Singin Lass, Selected Work of Marion Angus, published by Edinburgh’s Polygon), in a specially commissioned setting by the University of St Andrews visiting Professor of Jazz, Richard Ingham, and played by the Heisenberg Ensemble.

'Poetry seeps from the very stones', one critic once commented about StAnza. This year, that sentiment will come true, thanks to Language on Stone, a series of text and images based on Alastair Reid’s poem 'Scotland' which will be projected on walls around St Andrews after sunset every day of the festival.

Jackie Kay; Photo: Jerry Bauer

Join the birthday celebrations! 

Visit the StAnza Poetry festival's website to view the programme and for more information.

Funded by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council.

See also
* Scottish Poetry Library
* Short Story - Grace and Rose by Jackie Kay
* Poem of the month
* Scots Poem of the Month
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