Stars of poetry prepare to shine in St Andrews

Louise Robertson of StAnza
Louise Robertson of StAnza
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In 2017 Scotland will celebrate its unique heritage and history over 12 months that have been designated the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. With a diverse programme of activity planned to encourage visitors to Scotland and boost our events sector, we at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, are proud to be part of this special year. We will be embracing these themes in our own programme as we look ahead to StAnza 2017 which takes place in the beautiful town of St Andrews from 1-5 March.

The next two years are particularly special for us as we celebrate our StAnza 20:20 Vision project to mark our 20th festival in 2017 and our 20th anniversary is 2018, 20 years on from the very first StAnza back in 1998. We’ll launch StAnza 20:20 Vision in March when we’ll host a festival to remember as we move into our third decade.

In keeping with tradition our festival will focus on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour.

Next year’s first theme, On the Road, showcases poetry inspired by and reflecting on travel and migration, while the second theme, The Heights of Poetry, looks at how poetry engages with Scotland’s high places, and the poetic connections between Scotland’s hills and mountains and those elsewhere.

StAnza has a well-earned reputation for being a truly international affair and next year’s line-up will not disappoint regular visitors to the festival or those attending for the first time. In this year’s festival we introduced a focus on poetry from another language bringing a flavour of Germany poetry and culture to the programme.

Such was the success of this that next year’s festival will have a dedicated language focus on French, under the title La Nouvelle Alliance which will see various French-speaking poets taking part along with other events with a French connection.

Each year we welcome some of the biggest names from the literary world to perform in St Andrews along with up and coming talent to give us a fresh and exciting programme with wide appeal. Among the big names to perform at next year’s festival are Scotland’s new Makar Jackie Kay, an award-winning writer of poetry, plays and fiction; Robert Crawford, a poet, critic, biographer and professor at the University of St Andrews; and Jim Carruth, appointed poet laureate for Glasgow in 2014. Other Scottish poets in the line-up include James McGonigal and AB Jackson.

They will be joined by Vahni Capildeo, winner of this year’s Forward Prize as well as Sarah Howe, winner of the T.S Eliot prize for her first collection Loop of Jade and previous T.S. Eliot prizewinner Alice Oswald. Zambian poet Kayo Chingonyi and Afro-Guyanese playwright, poet and children’s writer John Agard, both British-based, will also perform.

Our programme always features something for younger poetry fans from readings by children’s authors to staged performances. Prior to the festival we shall also be taking poetry projects into school and during the festival, poets will be making school visits.

For a flavour of what StAnza is all about, please read the Afterword, which looks back at the highlights from this year’s festival and is now on our website. With such a fantastic line-up of literary talent in prospect, we can only flag up a few of the 60-plus poets taking part over five days from 1-5 March in Scotland’s annual celebration of the written and spoken word in all its forms. Our festival hub will once again be the Byre Theatre.

There will be in total around 100 events, exhibitions and installations in the Byre and other venues in and around the town centre of St Andrews, many of which will be free. The full programme will be announced for St Andrews Day on 30 November, and further information, along with the Afterword, can be found on StAnza’s website at

Louise Robertson is press and media manager for StAnza.