A diverse festival of verse as StAnza gets under way

From left - Festival director Eleanor Livingstone with Harry Man and Jane Yolan.

From left - Festival director Eleanor Livingstone with Harry Man and Jane Yolan.

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StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is back for 2016 with a programme which promises another epic festival for Fife.

The annual festival which once again boasts an outstanding line-up of literary talent, started this week when Fife singer songwriter James Yorkston launched the festival followed by a performance of Sea Threads: comings and goings/Sea Treeds: comins an gyaains.

The performance was 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.

Eleanor Livingstone, festival director, said: “Once again we have strived to create a programme which embraces the wonderful diversity of the spoken word.

‘‘This year’s ambitious programme demonstrates the incredible talent within the poetry world. From our headline acts to some of the newest voices on the stage, our line-up is a vibrant and exciting mix of performance poets and artists who will no doubt make this another year to remember.”

Two themes are at the heart of this year’s festival – Body of Poetry, which looks at poetry which engages with the human body, its needs, appetites and how it changes, and City Lines, which takes up the festival’s focus on architecture for Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, connecting St Andrews with various cities worldwide, including Berlin as part of a focus on German poetry.

The festival continues until March 6 with headline acts including Costa Poetry Award winner Don Paterson, Andrew McMillan, Jo Bell, Lemn Sissay, Pascale Petit, Sean O’Brien, Brian Johnstone and John Burnside.

They will be joined by Nora Gomringer from Germany, Swedish poet Aase Berg, Jane Yolen and Thomas Lynch from the USA and Australian poet Sarah Holland-Batt.

Paul Bush OBE, director of events at VisitScotland, commented: “StAnza promises to be a fantastic event, showcasing the very best of both local and international poetic talent. In 2016, the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, it is also fitting that the festival will include exhibitions and events focusing on architecture as part of its exciting programme.”

Other highlights include exhibitions, workshops and readings by poets from around the world.

In Past & Present sessions, contemporary speakers give a personal response to favourite past poets writing in English or other languages.

Open mic sessions throughout the festival give St Andreans the opportunity to perform their own poetry live on stage – just turn up and sing in.

The London Laureates Showcase will feature current laureate Selina Nwulu along with two of her fellow nominees for the award Zia Ahmed and Harriet Creelman.