Small screen for StAnza . .

Eleanor Livingstone'Leven'STANZA director
Eleanor Livingstone'Leven'STANZA director

a DOCUMENTARY of StAnza’s vibrant 2012 festival is to be released next week.

StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival will officially launch its new film on Monday, August 20.

The documentary has been previewed on YouTube, Facebook and uploaded on StAnza’s website, but this will be the first time it has been screened in front of a live audience during the ‘St Andrews A Year of Celebration’ showcase at Creative Scotland, Waverley Gate.

St Andrews was a recipient of a Creative Places Award for 2012 and the film is a record of the outstandingly successful festival and a celebration of the connections between poetry and the historic town.

The project had its beginnings when Eleanor Livingstone, director of StAnza, commissioned the filmmaker Daniel Warren to make a short documentary of the 2012 festival.

She told the Citizen: ‘‘The festival is grateful for the help of EventScotland who provided funding.

‘We wanted to capture the essence of the festival on film, to give a flavour of how lively and diverse it can be, in the stunning setting of St Andrews.

‘‘With our vibrant hub at the Byre Theatre, StAnza has a unique, welcoming atmosphere and the film is a visual record of that.’

Daniel came to St Andrews for the festival (which took place from March 11-14) and, with the assistance of Ishbel Beeson, filmed poets in live readings and performances, on stage and behind the scenes.

He also interviewed poets, artists, musicians and festivalgoers, took in the sights and sounds of the town itself and the result was an intriguing insight into the festival.

The film is structured as ‘a day in the life of StAnza,’ opening with arrival of visitors at Leuchars Station.

The camera takes the viewer around town and through many events from art exhibitions, an open mic in a local café, to centre stage readings and performances at the Byre by, among others, Jackie Kay, actor Karen Dunbar, and performance poet Robin Cairns. As the sun goes down, the party atmosphere gets – literally – into full swing with music from the Mending Hearts Trio.

Daniel also interviewed poets, performers and visitors, asking them what was special about St Andrews as a base for the festival and what was special about the art of poetry itself. The reactions are funny, thoughtful and inspiring.

‘‘Poetry says the things we want to say to one another,’’ observes poet Jo Bell.

‘‘The poem reminds us of the humanity in us,’’ says Jamaican American poet Kwame Dawes.

Eleanor added: ‘‘The connection between place and poetry becomes clear as the camera cuts between the crowds and the beauty spots in St Andrews, bringing together the celebratory and the contemplative aspects of both the place and the festival.

‘‘Poetry turns up in unexpected guises: on Poetry Digest’s biscuits and bananas, as labels attached to whisky bottles in Ken Cockburn and Alec Finlay’s collaboration, The Road North, and slowly appearing under the chisel of patient stone carver John Neilson. Then there’s the bartender who bursts into a recitation of Tam O’ Shanter; poetic ‘Clanger speak’ from Andy Jackson during the launch of his TV and film inspired anthology, and slam champion Robin Cairns performing in a Mozart wig. The film shows how poetry can inspire other art forms, and become by turns humorous, experimental, crowd pleasing, celebratory and thought-provoking.

‘‘The title is taken from a story told by Jackie Kay during her performance. Her son, on hearing that his mother was ‘going out to the poetry,’ used to ask where this place called poetry was. StAnza – and St Andrews - she joked was certainly one of these places. The film successfully captures the humour, charm and the sense of community created by StAnza and by St Andrews.’’

View the film on StAnza’s website: http://www.stanzapoetry.org/