Sheena Wellington adds shine to 20th StAnza festival

St Andrews comes alive this week as StAnza, Scotland's international Poetry Festival, returns with another outstanding programme for its 20th festival.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 10:33 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:53 am
From left;Maram Ralmassire, Eleanor Livingstone, and Rachel Hazel.

The festival, which boasts a line-up of literary talent, was launched with traditional Scottish singer Sheena Wellington, who gave a rendition of Robert Burns’ A Man’s a Man for A’ That, which she famously sang at opening of the Scottish parliament in 1999.

StAnza traditionally opens with a showstopping first night performance and this year the audience was treated to John Agard’s quirky re-visioning of the notorious New World Enterprise of Christopher Columbus in Roll Over Atlantic.

Agard, one of Britain’s foremost cross-cultural voices, known for his mischievous satirical wit and winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, took on the voices of Columbus, The Atlantic Ocean, a native shaman and The Mighty Mosquito.

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Sheena Wellington

Festival director Eleanor Livingstone said: “20 years is a wonderful milestone for Stanza, and to mark this we have strived to create a programme which not only embraces the wonderful diversity of the spoken word but truly reflects the journey the festival has been on up until now.

“It’s always an exciting time for us as we look forward to welcoming the world to Fife to share our love of poetry, and this year especially so, as we launched our 20th annual festival.”

Over five days St Andrews will celebrate live poetry in all its forms around this year’s two themes.

The first, On the Road showcases poetry inspired by and reflecting on travel and migration, while the second theme The Heights of Poetry looks at how poetry engages with Scotland’s high places, and the poetic connections between Scotland’s hills and mountains and those elsewhere.

Sheena Wellington

Headline acts include British poet Alice Oswald, winner of the Costa Poetry Book prize and previous winner of the T.S. Eliot prize, Scotland’s new Makar, Jackie Kay and Kathleen Jamie, winner of the Saltire Book of the Year Award.

Also Vahni Capildeo, recent winner of this year’s Forward Prize, who said: “StAnza has been a legendary presence to me; I feel thrilled to cut loose from the unpoetic calendar, and to be summoned to attend.”

Aly Barr, Acting Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “StAnza has cemented its place as one of the foremost poetry festivals in the world. Its programme brings poets of all styles from all nations to a five day long poetry oasis in Fife. I’d recommend all thirsty readers and listeners travel along and drink deep.”

Full programme and tickets at