StAnza returns with another outstanding programme for its 20th festival

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is set for another outstanding festival as it prepares to open for its 20th year celebrations in Fife.  

The annual festival which once again boasts a fantastic line-up of literary talent, gets underway next week with traditional Scottish singer Sheena Wellington opening the festival in St Andrews. Sheena, who previously performed at one of the early StAnza festivals and returns to celebrate the 20th year famously sang Robert Burns' A Man's A Man For A' That at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

StAnza traditionally opens with a showstopping first night performance and this year the audience will be 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, 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.

Festival Director Eleanor Livingstone said: "We are thrilled to have such a fantastic opening night show with Roll Over Atlantic to get our 20th festival off to a fitting start. Twenty 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 is especially so, as we prepare to launch our twentieth annual festival.”

Over five days Fife's historic university town of St Andrews will come alive to 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. Through The Heights of Poetry, StAnza will celebrate Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

The festival takes place from 1 to 5 March with headline acts including 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.  They will be joined by 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.

Commenting on performing at StAnza, Vahni Caplideo 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.”

Other highlights include In Conversation with Hamish Brown and Jim Crumley where the two well-known Scottish nature writers discuss poetry, travel and seeking high places; Leasungspell with Poet Bob Beagrie, along with a group of musicians in a live performance of spoken word and sound, to launch the publication of the epic poem Leasungspell; and not forgetting younger poetry fans we have an hour of mischief and magic with poet Ron Butlin in Here Come the Trolls.

 Stuart Turner, Head of EventScotland, said: “As Scotland’s International Poetry Festival set on the perfect stage of St Andrews, StAnza allows visitors to enjoy an exciting, varied programme showcasing the very best of both national and international literary talent, and we are delighted to support the event in its 20th year.

“It’s also fitting that during Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, StAnza will be celebrating the themes and inviting attendees to delve into the past through exciting programme strands including The Heights of Poetry.”

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.”

 StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is funded by Creative Scotland, EventScotland and Fife Council, with support from the University of St Andrews.

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased in person, by phone and online. Full box office details are online at our booking page or telephone the box office on 01334 475000.  

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