Sunday, May 29, 2022
EntertainmentScottish Poetry Festival hailed a "huge success" by organisers

Scottish Poetry Festival hailed a “huge success” by organisers

SCOTLAND’S International Poetry Festival has come to an end, with organisers hailing the 25th festival a huge success. 

StAnza 2022 celebrated Scotland’s Year of Stories and launched with an opening night which featured a selection of headline poets, including Edinburgh’s Makar Hannah Lavery, as well as music from Don Paterson and Graeme Stephen.

Based in St Andrews, the programme concluded yesterday after seven days featuring over 120 events including performances, readings, music, open mic events, films, exhibitions and installations combining live and digital performances involving over 150 artists. 

The sell-out event, which was also live streamed online, started with a hybrid poetry reading including 15 poets split between the Byre Theatre and Zoom.

Lyuba Yakimchuk, Ukrainian poet, during her readings.
Poet Lyuba Yakimchuk made the journey from Ukraine to appear at the festival. (C) David Vallis

StAnza’s new mentoring project Scotland’s Young Makars also concluded its first series with six young people sharing a selection of their poems, with readings from Jen Hadfield and Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie.

Festival Director Lucy Burnett said: “The last week has been fabulous – even more wonderful than I dared to imagine.

“I honestly couldn’t have asked for more for my first festival at the helm, and participants and audience members alike have been hugely appreciative of our commitment to hosting an ambitious festival in live format.

“Our new hybrid format has also been a huge success, giving the festival a far greater reach and opening up our programme to larger audiences than ever before. 

“StAnza set itself the aim of becoming an intervention in poetry, and we have certainly done that during our 25th festival.

“Under the title, Stories like Starting Points, StAnza was able to 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.”

This year’s programme contained Translation in Focus: Beyond Any Curtain, which showcased poetry and translations between Scotland and Ukraine.

Despite the crisis in Ukraine, the event was able to go ahead, with one poet managing to make the journey to Scotland from the war-torn country to appear in person. 

Lyuba Yakimchuk arrived in Scotland on Wednesday morning, and described her journey.

She said: “On Sunday I left Kyiv to get here, it was challenging and very painful as there are a lot of refugees leaving. I crossed the border between Ukraine and Poland on foot.

“When you feel like you have to leave your country over shelling, it’s a very painful experience.

“Pregnant ladies, with babies and toddlers even were all trying to leave – they are civilian targets. It’s unacceptable, we didn’t do anything to deserve this experience.”

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “StAnza offers the opportunity for poets from Scotland and around the globe to share a stage and connect with audiences, whether in person or digitally.

“In its 25th year, the success of that innovative digital offering must be congratulated, allowing a new and wider range of people to access these events.

“This festival’s new aims in becoming an intervention in poetry bring something fresh and Lucy Burnett should be congratulated for this first year at the helm, alongside the full StAnza team.”

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

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