Sunday, March 22, 2009


I did a very whirlwind visit to Stanza yesterday with a couple of friends from the Musselburgh group of Tyne and Esk writers.

We saw Homecoming poets Annie Boutelle (who teaches in the English Department, Smith College, where she founded the Poetry Center in 1997. Her first book of poems, Becoming Bone was published by University of Arkansas Press. Her second book, Nest of Thistles, which focuses on her Scottish childhood, was published in 2005 by the University Press of New England, and won that year's Samuel French Morse Prize) and Ros Brackenbury (who lived in Edinburgh for 12 years, where she co-founded Shore Poets with Brian Johnstone in 1991. Since 1993, she has lived in Key West, Florida, with her American husband. She has published five collections of poetry, the latest of which is Yellow Swing (2004), as well as several novels. Her latest novel, Becoming George Sand, is due to be published by Doubleday (Canada) in 2009.)

They did a good set and it was interesting to note that their geographical locations in the US seemed to match their poetic style and their outward appearance. Annie Boutelle's style was concise, neat and precise, Brackenbury's more expansive
and relaxed. Brackenbury did the best name drop of the day by mentioning that she'd done a workshop with Sharon Olds. As my friend Irene would say, there I sat at one remove from greatness ....

And then we went on to see Roddy Lumsden, who I enjoyed enormously.(He teaches for The Poetry School and Morley College in London and is currently compiling Identity Parade, a major anthology of recent British and Irish poetry.) I don't know why but I had expected a rather pugilistic style, but his delivery was rather gentle and very thoughtful. And he displayed a dazzling virtuosity in terms of subject choices and style - I was disappointed not to be able to wait and queue for a copy of his new book Third Wish Wasted, but I will ask for it for my birthday.

Then I went to the pamphlet fair, where I was looked after Colin's Calder Wood Press stall for an hour. There I met fellow blogger Rachel Fox as well as lots of other poetry chums from the other side of the Forth. And I managed to scribble down a haiku for Colin's Stanza haiku exercise.

We also gave our seat in the cafe to Simon Armitage, we were leaving anyway, but I like that about Stanza - it is a very democratic festival. One minute folk are upon the stage, the next they are sitting beside you eating.


Blogger Lucy said...

Do you still want to know one?

Sounds like lots of fun!

6:12 pm  
Blogger Kay said...

Times like that (iron striking iron so to speak) spark and energise us, setting us up for a good stint of creativity. Hope you enjoy your stint! And lang may it last. :)

11:24 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Yes it was good, espeacially Roddy, he is so imaginative.

And you're right I've written two reasonably good things since I got home.

12:21 pm  
Blogger BarbaraS said...

And here I am sitting looking on with envy again... next year! Oh by jingummy next year!

2:28 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I once went to the Cheltenham festival and spoke to Peter Hall - we were born ;the same year. Martin Amis and lots of interesting writers whose names I can't recall. It is energising - I'd love to do another.

3:37 pm  
Anonymous Roddy said...

Hello - I'm not sure why people always expect me to be a bit of a lad - my poems have always given people that expectation - I'm sometimes a bit combative in internet discussions of poetry, and sometimes my 'first person' poems use feckless male characters who aren't me - but those who know me know I'm a big softie really! Really pleased that you and others enjoyed my reading at StAnza this year. I'm very hard on myself with regard to readings, but I know I read well on Saturday. I even brought off that ridiculously heart-tugging poem about the pregnant hyena which sometimes just feels corny when I read it.

1:07 am  
Blogger apprentice said...

Hi Roddy, I'm really flattered that you took time to post a comment in reply to my bletherings.

I thought it was a wonderful set and since I came back my head has been full of the images you conjured.

The "beautiful" poem in particular will be well worth buying the book for.

8:17 am  

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