In a few weeks St Andrews welcomes the poetry world

Word is poetry festival is lining up some show-stoppers for this year's event, writes Louise Robertson
StAnza - Scotland's International Poetry Festival based in St Andrews. Picture: Dan PhillipsStAnza - Scotland's International Poetry Festival based in St Andrews. Picture: Dan Phillips
StAnza - Scotland's International Poetry Festival based in St Andrews. Picture: Dan Phillips

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival gets underway in just a few weeks, when St Andrews welcomes the world to a little corner of Fife, brought alive for five days with poetry, music and art.

With the 2016 festival almost upon us we’re thrilled to announce our special opening night guest will be singer songwriter James Yorkston.

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No stranger to Fife, James was one of the original members of The Fence Collective, part of the Fife music initiative that brought us King Creosote, KT Tunstall and Pictish Trail. James is signed to Domino Records, which is also the record label of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. He has released eight albums, a number of singles and compilations and published his book ‘It’s Lovely to be here - The Touring Diaries of a Scottish Gent’ in 2011.

As well as being a respected figure in the music work James has been described as a ‘poetic genius at work’ by Q Magazine, making him a very fitting choice to open this year’s festival. Those who are familiar with StAnza will know that each year our festival starts with a show-stopping first night performance which sets the mood for the following four days.

This year is no different as we present a performance of Sea Threads: comings and goings / Sea Treeds: comins an gyaains.

The performance is a collaboration between Tommy Smith, award winning saxophonist and director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and his celebrated group Karma together with acclaimed Shetlandic poet and Edinburgh Makar, Christine De Luca. Commissioned by Tommy Smith, Christineand her fellow poet Alex Cluness responded to broad themes, creating a loose kind of Sea Chronicle with each poem, in some way, referencing the sea and movement.

Among our headliners this year is Don Paterson, who recently won the Costa Poetry Award for his latest collection, 40 Sonnets, published by Faber and Faber. We were delighted to have Don read for us at our launch event in Edinburgh last month and look forward to welcoming the now twice Costa and twice TS Eliot prize winner to the StAnza stage in a few weeks. The Scottish poet and jazz musician will be joined by recent winner of the Guardian First Book award and Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prize, Andrew McMillan along with other big names from the literary world including Fiona Benson, joint winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, English poet Jo Bell, winner of the Causley Prize and the Manchester Cathedral Prize in 2014, and Lemn Sissay, recipient of an MBE for services to literature and the first poet to write for the London Olympics.

As part of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, architecture will feature strongly in StAnza’s visual art programme of exhibitions and installations, including Building with Words by Lucy Jones who is our Artist in Residence at StAnza. The Edinburgh based artist has produced a series of collage works which feature iconic St Andrews buildings rendered uniquely in text.

From 2-6 March over 60 poets will descend on St Andrews, along with many musicians, visual artists and film makers for over 100 events. To see the full programme and buy tickets go to our website

• Louise Robertson is Press and Media Manager for StAnza