StAnza 2015 pulls in thousands of visitors to St Andrews

Even for poets, no visit to St Andrews is complete without seeing the Old Course. Pictured, from left, are Robin Cairns, Elivis McGonagall, Jo Bell and Kei Miller. (Photo: Karen Cairns)
Even for poets, no visit to St Andrews is complete without seeing the Old Course. Pictured, from left, are Robin Cairns, Elivis McGonagall, Jo Bell and Kei Miller. (Photo: Karen Cairns)
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After four days with more than 100 poetry-linked events, involving performances, readings, music and shows, 70 artists and thousands of visitors, the organisers of StAnza 2015 might be expected to be lost for words.

But festival director Eleanor Livingstone was still full of enthusiasm after the 18th international poetry gathering had come to an end.

“StAnza 2015 was an overwhelming success,” she said.“We are thrilled that StAnza was so well attended this year with box office sales being better than ever before.”

With such a varied programme, which also included workshops, open mic events and installations, featuring some of the major literary talent from around the world, it would be difficult to pick out just one highlight but Eleanor said award-winning Jamaican poet Kei Miller gave a stand-out performance that had a great reception from his audience.

The festival was launched by Game of Thrones star Clive Russell who also appeared ‘In Conversation’ on Saturday.

Headline poets this year included Simon Armitage, Belfast’s inaugural Poet Laureate Sinéad Morrissey, Ian Duhig, New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate Bill Manhire, Alice Notley and Paul Durcan.

StAnza provides a stage for new and aspiring voices and joining Kei Miller among this year’s newcomers were Agnes Török, Toby Campion and Hollie McNish.

The festival prides itself on being an international event and this year was no different with poets from as far afield as New Zealand, the USA, Denmark, Sweden, Mallorca, Sardinia and the Faroe Islands.

However, it is not only the thousands of visitors who enjoy the festival - it has become an annual gathering relished by the poets too.

Speaking afterwards, American poet Carolyn Forché said “...it was one of the most wonderful festivals I’ve been to,” while New Zealand poet Bill Manhire described it as “one of the most pleasant things on the planet”.