Louise Robertson: You could do verse – come along to poetry festival for a feast of literary fun

Up-and-coming poet William Letford  ' who is appearing at the StAnza festival in St Andrews ' was commissioned  to write a special piece to commemorate 200 years of The Scotsman
Up-and-coming poet William Letford ' who is appearing at the StAnza festival in St Andrews ' was commissioned to write a special piece to commemorate 200 years of The Scotsman
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In just a few days, the historic Fife town of St Andrews will come alive to celebrate ­outstanding poetry in all its forms. For five days the beautiful, coastal town will once again become the lively hub and home of StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry ­festival. This year marks an important ­milestone in our history with StAnza 2018 being the 21st festival since our first in 1998.

This year’s programme is ­without doubt fitting of such an important occasion with internationally-acclaimed poets from all over the world set to descend on Scotland, offering a rare opportunity for ­audiences to experience their work live in one place.

Louise Robertson is Press and Media Manager for StAnza.

Louise Robertson is Press and Media Manager for StAnza.

StAnza will get underway with a ­special opening night gala ­performance, featuring a selection of ­headline poets reading, intertwined with music, film and art. We’re delighted to welcome Barbara ­Dickson as our special guest to ­officially open the ­festival. The Fife singer-songwriter and Olivier Award-winning actress will sing at the opening night ­performance.

A highlight for this year is our ­dedicated focus on the languages and cultures of the Low Countries, Dutch, Flemish and Frisian under the title Going Dutch.

As well as showcasing poets from Flanders and the Netherlands, the festival will have a selection of installations and exhibitions, giving ­audiences an insight into the poetry scene from this part of the world.

Two Dutch Frisian poets will take also take part in a translation ­workshop with two Scottish poets, producing new versions of poetry during the festival, and this year’s guest blogger at StAnza will be a Dutch cyclist.

A number of award-winning Dutch, Flemish and Frisian poets will be among the big names from the ­literary world reading and ­performing at StAnza in March including the Dutch poet laureate Ester Naomi Perquin along with Jan Baeke, Thomas Möhlmann, Frank Starik, Tsead Bruinja, Sigrid Kingma, Geart Tigchelaar, Lies Van Gasse, Maud Vanhauwaert and Andy ­Fierens.

As well as individual poets, the ­festival programme also includes various events celebrating poetry and culture from the Netherlands and Flanders.

These poets from the Low ­Countries will join an exceptional line up of ­talent including former Belfast poet laureate and recent winner of the prestigious Forward Prize for ­Poetry Sinéad Morrissey, Scottish poet and jazz musician Don Paterson who will be in conversation with Marie-Elsa Bragg, Gillian Allnutt, who was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry last year, Tara ­Bergin, winner of the Seamus Heaney First Collection Prize in 2014, and up and coming Scottish poet William Letford.

Other names include Douglas Dunn, Mark Ford, Rachael Boast, Miriam ­Gamble, Catherine Wilson, Martin Figura, Sara Hirsch, Michael ­Symmons Roberts and many more.

For 2018 we’re delighted to be part of Scotland’s Year of Young People with a number of exciting children’s events embracing the spirit of the twelve month programme allowing young people to shine.

Young poetry fans will be in for a treat at StAnza as Scotland’s former Makar, Liz Lochhead shares her favourite poems both old and new for a fantastic family-friendly show, Bairnsangs.

As Scotland’s national poet, Lochhead is a passionate proponent of poetry for fun, reminding us that poetry, first and foremost, is written not to be analysed or interpreted, but to be enjoyed.

StAnza has always featured events for younger poetry fans from ­readings by children’s authors to staged performances. This year poets have been working in schools over recent months and the resulting poems and artwork produced by pupils will be on show at StAnza.

StAnza poets also make school ­visits during the festival and are actively involved in work with teachers on developing poetry teaching skills.

At StAnza, there truly is something for everyone with more than 90 poets and almost 100 events, many of which are free, so why not come along to hear new voices, meet poets and ­writers and enjoy the lively and welcoming atmosphere of one of Europe’s top literary festivals.

Tickets are available by visiting our website at www.stanzapoetry.org or through our box office at the Byre Theatre.

Louise Robertson is press and media manager for StAnza.