A slam-dunk lineup for StAnza festival

Saxophonist Tommy Smith - SNJO Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
Saxophonist Tommy Smith - SNJO Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

As wintry snow gives way to spring

To St Andrews comes the poetry fling

From far and wide

The poets will glide

Into town for the annual bonanza

That is StAnza.

And three months ahead of the event, a fabulous lineup has been announced for StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival – all producing infinitely better verse than the doggerel above.

A host of big names from across the arts has been lined up, with award-winning Scottish jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith leading the programme with a performance of Sea Threads: comings and goings/Sea Treeds: comins an gyaains. The performance is a collaboration between Smith, director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and his celebrated group Karma together with acclaimed Shetlandic poet and Edinburgh Makar, Christine De Luca.

Poets Alex Cluness and Christine De Luca were commissioned by Tommy Smith to create a loose kind of Sea Chronicle with each poem in some way referencing the sea and movement.

From this seascape of themes Smith has composed music that captures the mood and the poetic feelings of the poems to create a unique collaboration.

The performance opens the four day long festival leading a line up of more than 60 poets, that includes internationally acclaimed poets from all over the world including a string of award-winning writers – Andrew McMillan, Don Paterson, Fiona Benson, Jo Bell, and Lemn Sissay. Nora Gomringer from Germany, Swedish poet Aase Berg, Jane Yolen and Thomas Lynch from the USA and Australian poet Sarah Holland-Batt will also make appearances.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour – in 2016 the themes will be Body of Poetry, looking at poetry which engages with the human body, and City Lines, bringing a focus on architecture for Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, connecting St Andrews with cities worldwide.

Other highlights include To the Lighthouse, a concert inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 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.

A film of the collaboration by Sitar Rose will also be screened along with ‘The Complete Works’, Canadian film-maker Justin Stephenson’s feature length film on the avant-garde poet bpnicol.

StAnza runs from March 2-6 – more information on the programme is available at www.stanzapoetry.org/