StAnza seems so long ago now that it’s almost hardly worth reporting any more on it, but there are a couple of things don’t want to slide into the dim and distant without comment.
First and foremost of those is Roddy Lumsden’s reading. I’ve known Roddy since I was a student, since before he published his first collection. That book — Yeah Yeah Yeah — was launched upstairs in The Waverley, a quirky wee pub a stone’s throw from the eponymous railway station. At StAnza, Roddy was launching Third Wish Wasted, his fifth collection, accompanied by the munching of some truly tasty pies.*
I’ve no hestitation in declaring Roddy’s reading the best I saw on the festival. The poetry was so good: a gleaming, distinctive sound; an enviable imaginative and formal range; wit, intelligence and fun. Nothing wasted. You can hear an excerpt from his performance on the relevant StAnza podcast. Neil Astley was also there with the Bloodaxe video camera, and you can see the result roughly halfway down this page on their site. Even better, you can read the book. Unlike the duck, it does not disappoint.
Speaking of Bloodaxe and films, I should also mention the extra showing of the taster for In Person. It was put on for those who missed tickets for the much more than sold out Duffy and Agbabi event. That reading wasn’t on my list anyway, and I think very few of the small audience for the film were refugees from it. However, I’m mightily glad to have had the opportunity to see the film, partly because I missed all the other ones on this year’s festival but mainly because it was well worth watching in its own right. I haven’t yet bought the In Person anthology, but it looks to be excellent value.
The main reason I didn’t get to any of the films was probably the fact that Rob A Mackenzie and I had a stall at the poets’ market, touting our and Alexander Hutchison’s Salt collections. That was also the reason I didn’t really get round the other stalls, but I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to James and Marianne of Kettilonia Press, who were beside us, as well as to the folk who came along to the stall. It was also good to meet Rachel Fox, albeit extremely briefly. If you have access to Facebook, you’ll find a shot of me at the stall among Robert Alan Jamieson’s photos.
StAnza was so much more than the sum of all these different parts and the many other meetings and encounters I haven’t mentioned. As Susan Mansfield says in her Scotsman write-up,
someone compared the festival to T in the Park. And while poetry is not quite the new rock'n'roll, year on year StAnza feels more like a festival.
*I now realise the Scotch pie can be a thing of beauty, not simply a dull companion to a bag of chips.