Friday, 25 March 2011

Scotland's Poetry Capital

I've returned from my first visit to St Andrew's and StAnza 2011, head spilling over with words.  It's felt like a long weekend because so much was new and so much was going on, and now I'm back, a short one.
The town seemed almost constantly sunny, crowstepped, winding, full of people.  Hey, it's nice, though I did think the high-end shopping must reflect the royals-at-uni element.   

The only regular festival dedicated to poetry in Scotland had chosen as themes for 2011 Timepiece and The Poet's Ark.  Certainly I heard great discussions of history in poetry - and some great poems - at a delicious Poetry Breakfast (pastries, poetry and coffee, I rest my case).  And interesting thoughts about how writing about place implicitly invites us to write about time.  And Polly Atkin did a great reading (at pointblank range, standing in for a missing poet) which addressed the Ark.   Eerie, feral foxes and a wonderfully exact little poem I've heard before featuring frogs in a child's red tin wheelbarrow.

A treat for me was to be there with what Hugh Bryden calls the 'Roncadora Stable'.  Roncadora featured in the StAnza programme as one of the invited exhibitions ‘Black and White’, which was installed in the picturesque – and appropriate – half timbered surroundings of the Trust House Museum. 
Rab Wilson and Hugh McMillan both read on the main programme.  Rab was launching not only his new pamphlet (though that is too small a word for this creation) ‘Ye’re There Horace!’, a Scots version of Horace’s Odes, but also his great new collection from Luath, ‘A Map for the Blind’.  (I still want one Rab).

Hugh McMillan’s reading was likewise at sell-out, with the audience emerging still grinning.  His new Roncadora pamphlet, a nifty version of drystone origami, ‘Cairn’ is a bit of a beauty.

Andy Forster, who was Literature Development Officer in D&G for 5 years before he went off to work for The Wordsworth Trust over the border in Cumbria, was at StAnza with his lovely Roncadora pamphlet ‘Digging’.  He was very good at being there for the craic, too.    
I went to see my Roncadora pamphlet, ‘Lost At Sea’, looking beautiful in an old fashioned glass-topped museum case in the Trust House Museum.  I met many new friends in the space of three days, and was made very welcome.

From Catriona Taylor's 'A Thousand Sails' inspired by Sorley McLean
 Sleep was short and the gaps between readings, workshops, exhibitions, discussion groups and talking a lot in the café-bar were extremely short.  Highlights were the Poet’s Market, the SPL's gigantic Knit A Poem (it’s a Dylan Thomas poem and would cover a village green), Philip Gross, Ciaran Carson, Douglas Dunn, Marilyn Hacker, Catriona Taylor’s gorgeous exhibition ‘A Thousand Sails’ inspired by Sorley McLean, and more…

No comments:

Post a Comment