Thursday, March 17, 2011

Off to StAnza 2011

I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to the StAnza International Poetry Festival for at least part of today. I hope to catch Matt Merritt reading later this morning, but that all depends on time – perfect bus and train connections after dropping my daughter off at school. I’ve a feeling I might be fractionally too late, but we’ll see.

There are a few interesting events this afternoon e.g. Jo Bell, Belgian sound poetry, the StAnza lecture from Robert Crawford. I can’t decide yet but will go with my whim at the time. I slept badly last night and feel tired this morning, which might mean I’d fall asleep in a poetry event if it isn’t extra-special. So pull out all those extra stops, folks...

At 5pm, Natasha Trethewey is reading with Brian Johnstone, and I’ll make a point of getting to that one. Brian is very good, of course, and I’d recommend anyone who doesn’t know his work to check it out (his Book of Belongings, published by Arc in 2010, is excellent). But, for me, this also is a one-off chance to see Natasha Trethewey, a very interesting U.S. writer whose poetry is difficult to classify - a good thing, probably. I don't know her work well, but I like what I've read.

In the evening, Yang Lian (with translator Brian Holton) is reading with Poetry Review editor and Carcanet author, Fiona Sampson. I’d love to get to this as Andrew Philip, Katy Evans-Bush and I read with Yang Lian and Brian in London last year, a fantastic experience with two great people. Yang Lian writes poetry like no one else – I have two of his books, Riding Pisces (Shearsman), and Lee Valley Poems (Bloodaxe). Unfortunately, I need to get home and will have to pass up the chance to go to this one but, if you’re anywhere near St Andrews, don’t miss it!

I will be back in St Andrews over the weekend and, on the Saturday afternoon, you’ll find me on the Magma stall at the Stanza Book Fair.