StAnza festival of poetry returns today

StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival is set for another outstanding year.

It’s preparing to open its annual festival, Stories like Starting Points, as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

The festival, now in its 25th year has a programme featuring over 150 poets and performers who will deliver around 120 events, dozens of which will be online. The seven day festival runs from today, March 7, until 13 March from its hub at the Byre Theatre, in the beautiful Fife town of St Andrews.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said: ‘Poetry plays a huge role in many of our lives and communities, as well as being absolutely integral to Scotland’s culture, language and history.

‘I firmly believe that festivals like StAnza, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, can inspire people to see the world differently, and there is no better time to explore the benefits and opportunities of poetry than Scotland’s Year of Stories.

‘I am sure that StAnza will play its part in telling those stories and engaging writers, artists and audiences alike.’

StAnza officially gets underway with the Festival Launch Extravaganza, featuring a number of headline poets including Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie, poet, playwright and performer, Hannah Lavery, Shetland poet Jen Hadfield, and with music from Don Paterson and Graeme Stephen.

The opening night performance is the official start to the StAnza which this year will showcase an exceptional line-up of international talent featuring some of the biggest names in poetry alongside some of the newest, most exciting performers from here in Scotland, the UK and from dozens of countries all over the world.

Festival director Lucy Burnett said: ‘Against the backdrop of a global pandemic and more recent world events it is humbling to bring together such an incredible programme of international talent for our 25th festival. We hope that under the title, Stories like Starting Points, StAnza will give artists a platform to explore, debate and recognise the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in today, and the role which poetry can play within this.

‘Stories play a crucial role in helping us make sense of events and we hope that while being mindful of what is going on around us, we can celebrate this with an exceptional seven days of events exploring poetry and narrative in all their forms.’

StAnza is part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, a year in which stories inspired by, created, or written in Scotland will be showcased and celebrated.

Earlier this year, as part of this, StAnza launched Scotland’s Young Makars, an innovative mentoring programme to nurture up and coming poetic talent. Following a series of workshops a number of participants will be performing at StAnza next week, sharing a stage with Scotland’s national poet for a one-off event.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s director of events said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting StAnza as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Scotland offers the perfect stage for events and this year’s festival in St Andrews will feature more than 50 poets and other artists who are either Scottish by birth, or resident in Scotland, showcasing the country’s best contemporary poetry.’

Among the headline voices performing at this year’s festival are Luke Kennard, recent winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, Hannah Lowe, Costa Book of the Year award winner 2021, and Robin Robertson, winner of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction and the Roehampton Poetry Prize for his narrative poem The Long Take.

They will be joined by acclaimed rapper, playwright and world record holding beatboxer, Testament, Japanese author and poet Takako Arai, writer, journalist and political activist Gëzim Hajdari, poet and writer Holly Pester, performance poet Paula Varjack, Scottish author J.O. Morgan, writer and performer Harry Josephine Giles, and poet and disability rights activist Daniel Sluman and many more.

StAnza, one of Europe’s leading literary festivals, will bring over 120 events, projects and installations to live and digital audiences for seven days. The hybrid format will include a full live programme with traditional StAnza favourites such as readings and round table events, as well as dozens of online events, capturing the full potential of the digital realm.

StAnza is supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022 and by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

For updates on StAnza, visit