Gearing up for Scotland’s 2019 poetry festival

Scotland’s International Poetry Festival has announced an outstanding line-up of talent as it prepares for the event in March.

The StAnza festival will open in St Andrews with a special gala performance featuring a selection of headline poets reading and performing, intertwined with music, film and art.

This will launch the five-day festival with a line-up including internationally acclaimed poets from all over the world.

Festival director Eleanor Livingstone said: ‘We are delighted to be announcing details of our 2019 programme and thrilled that once again StAnza will be showcasing some of the biggest names in poetry alongside some of the brightest new and upcoming talent.

‘In just a few months we will be setting the stage to celebrate the spoken and written word in all its forms with a diverse and vibrant festival over five days in the beautiful Fife town of St Andrews. We look forward to revealing more details in coming weeks.’

Among the headline voices performing at the festival are winner of the 2018 Forward Prize for Poetry for Best Single Poem, Liz Berry and poet, artist and film-maker, Imtiaz Dharker, awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry in 2014.

They are joined by award-winning Jamaican poet and essayist, Ishion Hutchinson and Welsh poet, playwright, columnist, and editor Menna Elfyn. Also on the programme for 2019 is Caroline Bird, shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Award and the Ted Hughes Award in 2017.

Other poets performing at StAnza include JO Morgan, Fiona Moore, Alan Spence, George Mario Angel Quintero, Gerda Stevenson, Matthew Stewart and many, many more.

StAnza traditionally focuses on two themes which interweave with each other to give each annual festival its own unique flavour.

Next year’s themes are Off the Page and Another Place. Off the Page will explore poetry’s relationship with the medium it’s written on and will enjoy poetry presented in ways which aren’t in conventional book form. With the concept of ‘the other’ seeming ever more charged,

Another Place will showcase poets who look beyond the familiar to explore new places and ideas. It will engage with the positive and negative, from the benefit to poets of experiencing new places, to concerns that climate change, right wing extremism, etc. are threatening the future and turning it into another place.

Another highlight for 2019 will be a spotlight on poetry from the Mediterranean and beyond. StAnza is also delighted to be taking part in A Year of Conversation, a collaborative project designed to celebrate, initiate and to explore conversation through the arts.

A Year of Conversation has been created by Tom Pow and various others as a year long Scottish initiative working with partners who will deliver events in the strand themed around conversation.

Mairi Kidd, interim head of Literature, Languages and Publishing, Creative Scotland said: ‘Stanza has a superb reputation for its programming and deservedly so; the poets on the 2019 programme again represent an exciting and vibrant mix of well-established names and up-and-coming talent. Liz Berry is a particular highlight, as are Imtiaz Dharker and Caroline Bird and in the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages it’s great to see Menna Elfyn flying the flag for Wales. While this looks set to be a poetry-lover’s delight of a programme, there’s plenty for those who’re just dipping a toe in. Congratulations to the StAnza team on this fantastic line-up.’

StAnza, supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, will bring over 100 events including poetry, music, film and art, many of which are free, to St Andrews for five days from 6th to 10th March.

For updates on StAnza, visit