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StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, goes online this weekend

Festival director Eleanor Livingstone
Festival director Eleanor Livingstone

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, is set to go live online this weekend.

The annual St Andrews-based celebration of poetry, which is due to open on Saturday, will take the form of a hybrid, digital festival for the first time due to Covid-19, with dozens of local, national and international poets taking part in the festival over nine days

StAnza 2021 will open with a first night extravaganza showcasing a selection of poems, film, art and music with readings from Saili Katebe and Jane Longhurst as well as music from Glasgow-based folksinger, songwriter and ukulele player Claire Hastings.

This year’s programme features an exceptional line-up of talent including Naomi Shihab Nye, winner of the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Book Critics Circle, Raymond Antrobus, winner of the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry in 2019, and poet, playwright and translator Sasha Dugdale, a previous winner of the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

Renowned poet Roger McGough will also host a special event for children, Poetry Pie. Roger is known and loved for his playful and witty poems, as well as for bringing poetry to the nation with Poetry, Please.

They will be joined by Imtiaz Dharker, winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal along with Desree, Tim Liardet, Maria Stepanova, Rab Wilson, Valzhyna Mort and Christopher Whyte.

Festival director Eleanor Livingstone said: “We are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which people have embraced our new online format and delighted that we are able to deliver a festival despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“StAnza will of course be very different to previous years but we have stayed true to our usual format and look forward to bringing festival favourites such as readings, round tables and open mic events, along with a virtual festival café, to audiences via our online platform.”

Roger McGough, who will be taking part in this year’s StAnza poetry programme. Supplied by Nick Knight

Other poets on the StAnza programme include Jonathan Edwards, Jennifer Wong, Inua Ellams, Nabin K. Chhetri and many more.

Over nine days the festival will celebrate live poetry online around this year’s two themes ‘Make It New’ and ‘No Rhyme nor Reason’.

In recent years StAnza has introduced a dedicated language focus to the festival programme.

As 2021 is the 30th anniversary of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the translated language focus, ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain’, will be on languages from the former Eastern bloc.

This year’s festival will include traditional StAnza favourites such as readings and round table events, and new events to capture the full potential of the digital realm, including interactive poetry installations, ‘At Home’ events with poets and an enhanced film poem and sound poem programme.

The programme will also include a series of installations which can be enjoyed by those with little or no access to the internet.

More than 100 poets will take part in around 50 events over nine days.

All the details are available via the festival website stanzapoetry.org

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