Louise Robertson: StAnza answer to dull poetry events

THE HUMAN body and architecture are twin themes of the 2016 festival, says Louise Robertson

Last year's StAnza Poetry Festival launch. Picture: TSPL

With 2016 designated a year in which Scotland will celebrate its achievements in innovation, architecture and design, we at StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, are delighted to be embracing this theme in our own festival programme for next year.

The first details of our 2016 programme were announced last week to coincide with National Poetry Day and in keeping with tradition our festival will focus on two themes which interweave with one another to give each annual festival in St Andrews, Fife, its own unique flavour.

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Next year’s first theme will be Body of Poetry, which will look at poetry which engages with the human body, its needs, appetites and how it changes. As part of the second theme, City Lines, the festival will have a strong focus on Architecture as part of Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. This will connect St Andrews with various cities worldwide, including Berlin as part of a focus on German poetry for 2016.

StAnza has a well-earned reputation for being a truly international affair and next year’s line-up will not disappoint. However, 2016 will be the first year we have had a dedicated focus on poetry from another language.

As well as a focus on ­Germany, our programme features poets from as far afield as Australia, the US and Sweden, as well as others from across Europe who will travel to join many more from Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Many well-known names from the literary world will be coming to perform in St Andrews next March, as well as a host of new, up and coming talent. Among the big names topping the bill is Scottish poet and jazz musician Don Paterson. Paterson, from Dundee, is no stranger to St Andrews in his role as professor of Poetry at the University here.

Also featuring in next year’s programme is English poet Jo Bell, winner of the Causley Prize and the Manchester Cathedral Prize in 2014.

We’re delighted to welcome Lemn Sissay MBE to St Andrews as another of our headline acts for 2016. Lemn is the official poet for the FA cup final and the first poet to write for the London Olympics. Other UK poets featuring in the 2016 programme include Pascale Petit, Andrew McMillan and Fiona Benson, who will be joined by Nora Gomringer from Germany, Swedish poet Aase Berg, Jane Yolen and Thomas Lynch from the US and Australian poet Sarah Holland-Batt.

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 2-6 March. The full programme will be announced for St Andrew’s Day on 30 November, and further information can be found on StAnza’s website.

• Louise Robertson is Press and Media Manager for StAnza, www.stanzapoetry.org.