StAnza promises a festival to remember as 20th year programme is announced

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is preparing for a year to remember as it launches its core programme for the 20th festival next March.

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone said: "We're very excited to be planning our 20th festival and have strived to create an ambitious and vibrant programme fitting of this terrific milestone.  As we move into our third decade we have much to celebrate including the launch of a special project which will be revealed next year.

"Like previous years, StAnza 2017 will showcase an eclectic mix of some of the biggest names in the literary world alongside some of the newest and brightest talent and we're delighted to be announcing details of this today."

The festival takes place in the Fife coastal town of St Andrews from 1st to 5th March and traditionally opens with a show-stopping first night performance. StAnza 2017's opening night will be no different with the audience invited to join poet John Agard on a quirky re-visioning of the notorious New World Enterprise of Christopher Columbus.

 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, takes on the voices of Columbus, The Atlantic Ocean, a native shaman and The Mighty Mosquito. An uproarious voyage in verse - with songs - that mixes the subversive tides of cabaret and calypso. Directed by Mark C. Hewitt with music by Thomas Arnold of Stomp's Lost and Found Orchestra, creating a one man show like no other.

 The opening night show will launch the five day festival with a line up including internationally acclaimed poets from all over the world. Among StAnza’s 2017 headliners is British poet Alice Oswald, a previous winner of the T.S. Eliot prize, Scotland's new Makar, Jackie Kay, poet, critic, biographer and professor at the University of St Andrews, Robert Crawford and Jim Carruth, appointed poet laureate for Glasgow in 2014. Vahni Capildeo, recent winner of this year’s Forward Prize, Scottish poets James McGonigal and A.B. Jackson as well as Sarah Howe, winner of the T.S Eliot prize for her first collection Loop of Jade . Hard-hitting British poet Patience Agbabi, Zambian poet, Kayo Chingonyi and Jacques Darras from France are also included in the programme.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour. Next year’s first theme 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.

Following on from the success of StAnza's focus for 2016, on German poetry and culture, next year's festival will have a dedicated language focus on French, under the title, La Nouvelle Alliance which will see various French speaking poets taking part along with other events with a French connection. Through La Nouvelle Alliance and the theme The Heights of Poetry, StAnza will engage with Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Other highlights for 2017 include a Poetry Café with lunch and spoken word for social justice from the South African poet Sibusiso Conelius Simelane. Originally from a Johannesburg township, Simelane’s work is informed by experiences of township life and inspired by the ways in which language can be used to prompt social transformation.

The Loud Poets, currently taking the country by storm generating a huge following with their unique take on spoken word poetry are also on the programme as well as a tribute event to Alexander (Sandy) Hutchison, one of Scotland’s leading poets who's untimely death in late 2014 shocked his many friends and readers. Sandy was a very familiar face at StAnza and our 2017 festival is honoured to host this tribute event which will feature readings of some of Sandy’s poems and tributes from some of the people who had the privilege of calling him a friend. 

 Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “As Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, StAnza allows visitors to enjoy an exciting variety of performing arts and we are delighted to support the event in its 20th year through our National Programme.

“Among the many highlights promised by the 2017 programme, I particularly look forward to discover how themes relating to Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology are explored and would encourage as many visitors as possible to take in the festival when it arrives in March.”

Over 60 poets will be taking part at StAnza in St Andrews, along with many musicians, visual artists and film makers bringing the historic Fife town alive with poetry, music and art for five days from 1st to 5th March. 

For more info visit: www.stanzapoetry.org

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