International line-up unveiled for renowned St Andrews poetry festival

Andrew McMillan, winner of  Guardian First Book award and Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prize, who will be appearing at StAnza 2016. (Picture: Innes Morrison.)
Andrew McMillan, winner of Guardian First Book award and Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prize, who will be appearing at StAnza 2016. (Picture: Innes Morrison.)
  • 2016 line-up unveiled
  • More than 60 poets, musicians and visual artists taking part
  • Themes will be ‘Body of Poetry’ and ‘City Lines’

Next year’s StAnza poetry festival will open with a performance of a collaborative work by award-winning jazz musician Tommy Smith and acclaimed Shetlandic poet Christine De Luca.

‘Sea Threads: comings and goings/Sea Treeds: comins an gyaains’ has been produced by the saxophonist, his group Karma, De Luca and fellow poet Alex Cluness.

The festival has just unveiled its stellar line-up.

More than 60 poets will be taking part, along with musicians, visual artists and film makers, bringing St Andrews alive with poetry, music and art from March 2-6.

Among the headliners is recent winner of the Guardian First Book award and Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prize, Andrew McMillan.

“Stanza is an iconic festival which has seen some of the world’s best poets perform - I’m honoured and delighted to be there next year,” said Andrew, who, with fellow StAnza headliner Don Paterson, has been shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award.

Other big names set to perform include Fiona Benson, Jo Bell and Lemn Sissay, recipient of an MBE for services to literature.

UK headliners Pascale Petit, Sean O’Brien, Brian Johnstone and John Burnside 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.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two intertwining themes and next year’s will be Body of Poetry, looking at poetry which engages with the human body, and City Lines, which will have a strong connection with architecture for Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, and will connect St Andrews with various cities worldwide, including Berlin as part of a focus on German poetry for 2016.

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone said: “It is a huge pleasure to reveal the full programme for next year’s StAnza festival and we’re delighted to have pushed the boundaries once again to bring such a dynamic and exiting mix of poets and performances for 2016.

“We are thrilled to be setting the stage once again to celebrate the spoken word in all its forms and to be focusing on themes and subjects which are in fitting with Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

Architecture will also feature strongly in StAnza’s visual art programme of exhibitions and installations, including Building with Words by Lucy Jones, Artist in Residence at StAnza. The Edinburgh-based artist has produced a series of collage works which feature iconic St Andrews buildings rendered uniquely in text.

Elsewhere in the festival, poets will debate how poetry engages with the environmental impact of the built environment. And a focus on German includes an exhibition from Berlin, ‘What’s the point of poetry’, and an event based on a recent Scottish/German VERSschmuggel (verse-smuggling) project.

Other highlights in the programme include ‘To the Lighthouse’, a concert inspired by Virginia Woolf’s famous novel; and ‘A Potter, A Painter and a Poet’, an exhibition of the collaboration between artists Paul Tebble and Anne Gilchrist and the poet Elizabeth Burns who died in August 2015, and whose poem Spiral is currently writ large on a banner on the Royal Mile. A film of the collaboration by Sitar Rose will also be screened as part of StAnza’s film programme for 2016, along with ‘The Complete Works’, Canadian film-maker Justin Stephenson’s feature length film on the avant-garde poet bpNichol.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Once again StAnza has delivered an exceptional programme, featuring award-winning poets and covering a broad subject matter, ensuring there is something for all audiences. As one of Scotland most inspiring and historical locations, St Andrews will provide an outstanding setting and there is no doubt that thousands of spectators will gather in the town to celebrate the festival in 2016.”