Voices warming up for St Andrews poetry festival

'Bedazzled - A Welshman in New York' is the opening event at StAnza 2015.
'Bedazzled - A Welshman in New York' is the opening event at StAnza 2015.

Poets are limbering up their words for the annual celebration of all-things poetry that is StAnza 2015.

Scotland’s international poetry festival, which starts next Wednesday, celebrates its 18th anniversary this year and organisers are promising a programme set to ‘Bedazzle’.

StAnza2015 poster

StAnza2015 poster

Launching proceedings at the Byre Theatre will be Fife actor Clive Russell – most recently seen in the global blockbuster Game of Thrones – followed by an opening night performance of ‘Bedazzled: A Welshman in New York’, which celebrates Dylan Thomas’ fascination with the Big Apple in the bohemian world of Greenwich Village in the 1950s.

Clive Russell said he had fond memories of St Andrews when he was growing up in Fife, particularly the original Byre where he had one of his first experiences of theatre.

Festival director Eleanor Livingstone said: “We are delighted to have an artist of such talent and stature launching the 18th StAnza festival. Not only does he connect with Fife, StAnza’s home, but he also shares a love of poetry.”

Over the five days of the festival, the town will be abuzz with words as poets from around the world gather in a celebration of live poetry in all its forms round this year’s themes of ‘Unfinished Business’ and ‘An Archipelago of Poetry’.

This is a very special year for StAnza and we have marked it with an ambitious programme

Eleanor Livingstone

Headline acts include Simon Armitage and New Zealand’s first Poet Laureate, Bill Manhire, along with three poets making their first appearance at StAnza, American poet Alice Notley, Sinéad Morrissey, currently Belfast’s Poet Laureate, and Ian Duhig.

Winners of the 2014 Forward Prize for best collection and Forward First Prize for best first collection, Kei Miller and Liz Berry respectively, are also in this year’s line up, with Helen Mort, recent winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection prize, and Hollie McNish, winner of the Arts Foundation spoken word award.

Among the newer voices will be spoken word poets Agnes Török, Toby Campion and Erin Fornoff.

Agnes Török was the 2014 StAnza Poetry Slam winner and won the Best International Spoken Word Show award at the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe for her show ‘Sorry I Don’t Speak Culture’.

Toby Campion was a finalist in the BBC Poetry Slam 2014 and the UK National Slam 2014 while Erin Fornoff won the StAnza 2013 digital slam.

Eleanor Livingstone said: “This is a very special year for StAnza and we have marked it with an ambitious programme which demonstrates the incredible creative talent there is within the poetry world.

“Our line-up is an eclectic, vibrant and exciting mix of performance poets and artists who will no doubt make 2015 a festival to remember.”

Full details at the website www.stanzapoetry.org