StAnza’s virtual poetry festival

In a world ‘first’, StAnza is running a virtual poetry festival on Saturday 14th November. Poetry events throughout the world are being streamed in to the Byre Theatre, St Andrews, from 1pm until late. You can see the event on stage at the Byre, or as a live webcast on the StAnza website. To repeat: It’s happening live, in real time. I’m reproducing the whole programme below. I have a personal interest in the Tblisi link, as a I met David Robakidze and Gaga Naxutsrishvili at the Utena Poetry Festival in Lithuania last year, and both are powerful performers. Well done in advance to Eleanor Livingstone of StAnza for organising this, and to the technical teams at the Byre and on the website. 

Distant Voices

StAnza Virtual Festival– a one-day Virtual Poetry Festival

– Saturday 14 November 2009

– live at:

Studio Theatre
The Byre Theatre,
Abbey Street, St Andrews
Fife KY16 9LA
Tel 01334 475000

– and webcast free online

On 14 November StAnza will stage a brand-new poetry event, a one-day virtual poetry festival, using the latest digital technology to link up poets from around the world. Poets from as far apart as Mumbai and Sacramento and many points in-between reading at live events in their own countries will be linked by satellite to the audience in St Andrews, and broadcast worldwide via an online webcast.

The event in The Byre Theatre will be free and unticketed, and people are encouraged to drop in. However if you plan to travel any distance to St Andrews for this, do contact us in advance on and we shall do what we can to reserve a place for you.

We hope that this initiative will attract not only poetry enthusiasts but anyone who is interested in the arts engaging with new technology. For the audience in St Andrews, StAnza will provide a day of innovative and exciting poetry. For press enquiries, contact

During the live event, tune in to the webcast here.  If demand is high, we would ask you please to be patient and try again later. 

Programme for Saturday 14 November – all times approximate. For information on each event, please click the links below:

1.00 pm: St Andrews for event launch

Distant Voices is launched by StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews.

1.10 pm – 1.40: Tbilisi

From Tbilisi David Robakidze, (publications include What is a Man, and Once at the Zoo), Amiran Svimonishvili and Gaga Naxutsrishvili whose latest book is “Gogo da Evropa” (The Girl and Europe) with cover art work by Mixo Kochakidze.

Poems in Georgian (NB Some English translations below)

Distant Voices - Tbilisi   Distant Voices - Tbilisi

Distant Voices - Tbilisi

All poems by David Robakidze:


When I met my girl-friend she already had with her:
her child – as she had been married before,
a scar under her knickers,
a mascara poppy with a leaf, a romantic poison –
with a famous bottle, sadness which she
had picked from the cafés while sitting there
with her ex-boyfriends
and chain of  hotels haunting her day and night.
I was writing down the stories that shocked me
while as having read the others I was throwing them away.

So we have brought the child up: he’s already a man.
He has a lot of CD-s and he never listens to anybody.
He knows so well that bones can breathe.
He laughs at years greeting him.
After work he always goes his second home,
he takes his father /he’s one of his mother’s husbands/ by taxi
to his parents who are called Mr. Gikha and Mrs. Ria and
who are on the photo.
He loves his wife as much as his mother though she plays the floor
and sometimes weighs every word and – as she said offshore –
she respects her father-in-law and that’s why she always lays the table
and sets the fireplace when he comes.

Sometimes I get fresh air into my house gardens.
Sometimes I play with my grandchildren and put them to bed.
Sometimes I forget my sadness and look after fruit.
My girlfriend has no more heavy thoughts and headache.
I threw the romantic poison away.
Now I’m thinking about my guests – Mr. Morning and Mrs. Night:
they seem to be late – as usual.

* * *

The trees which are necessary for life are given
electricity each season.
While as the ordinary trees are waiting for
spring and water rising in rivers.
In spring their buds will light up and stay like that until
somebody will come and pick the ripened fruit.

* * *

 You’re a cart pulled by two oxen –
 a heart ox and a brain ox.
 A voiceless man makes you carry loads.
 And you’re going to be wise…
 after the event.


   A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay giving it a shape of a man
and making a slot where a rib should be.
 A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay giving it a shape of a man
and when you take it to sell at the market.
 A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay shaping it into a man
and make children carried by parents turn their heads and have a look at it.
 A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay giving it a shape of a man
and bring it hardly wrapped back home not having managed to sell it.
 A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay giving it a shape of a man
and leave it to your children so that they should break it at the waistline until
coins reach the throat.
 A man is:
when you model a money-box of clay giving it a shape of a man
and never manage to explain how you have done that.

Distant Voices - Tbilisi
Design by Giorgi Gamezardashvili

1.50 pm – 2.20: Geneva

From Geneva Strictly Sound / Language on Parole, with Heike Fiedler, Peter McCarey,, Tunnal:

Distant Voices - Geneva, Alexa Montani, Colette Ruch, Günther Ruch, Marina Salzmann.

2.30 pm – 3.00: St Andrews

Live from The Byre Theatre, St Andrews, StAnza presents Andrew Philip, whose new book The Ambulance Box (Salt, 2009) has been shortlisted for the Aldeburgh Jerwood Prize for a first collection, plus surprise guests.

3.10 – 3.40: Stavanger

The Stavanger reading will take place at Sølvberget, Stavanger kulturhus, in association with Norsk Forfattersentrum – Norwegian Writers’ Center, and ICORN – International Cities of Refuge Network. We are proud to present and share with the world the following poets: Helge Torvund, Easterine Iralu, Ren Powell, Mansur Rajih.  Poems in various languages with some English translations.

Distant Voices - Stavanger     Distant Voices - Stavanger

Distant Voices - Stavanger

3.50 pm – 4.20: London

The London reading takes place at the Poetry Society in London, presented by poet and MC Joelle Taylor. This year’s SLAMbassadors championship, jointly run between BBC Blast and the Poetry Society, has rounded up the seven best Slam performers from across Britain who will perform, slam and rap on the theme of identity. The seven teenage performers will be mentored by Joelle Taylor and Benjamin Zephaniah. The slammers will perform as part of the virtual StAnza Festival and at the live Showcase on November 15 with Zephaniah and Taylor, and with Scroobius Pip!

Distant Voices - London     Distant Voices - London

Distant Voices - London

4.30 pm – 5.00: Mumbai

Mumbai’s edition of ‘Distant Voices’ will unfold on the first floor of Prithvi House, Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. The PEN All-India Centre will present the evening as a PEN@Prithvi Special, a bonus attraction to our regular monthly session at this very venue. Our longstanding partner, Prithvi Theatre – an organization committed to the growth not just of theatre, but all the related arts – is, as always, a generous and welcoming host in a city where space is at a premium! The seven poets who will read their poetry, beginning at ten minutes to ten, Indian Standard Time (4.20 GMT) are Arjun Bali, Sampurna Chattarji, Mustansir Dalvi, Rohinton Daruwala, Ranjit Hoskote, Malavika Sangghvi and Arundhathi Subramaniam.

5.50 pm – 6.20: Vicenza

The event from Vicenza will take place at Aureofficina 11 in collaboration with Valentine’s International Culture Club. There will be readings in Italian and English from Marco Fazzini, Stefano Strazzabosco, Douglas Dunn and StAnza’s Brian Johnstone, who will be launching his book “Terra Incognita” published by L’Officina and translated into Italian by Roberta Cimarosti, Armado Pajalich and Marco Fazzini with original etchings by Giovanni Turria. Douglas Dunn will read from Whisper to the Muse: 84 poems in English and Italian, edited and translated by Marco Fazzini (Officina Arte Contemporanea, 2009).

6.30 pm – 7.00: Skye

The Isle of Skye reading takes place at the Scottish Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and with poems in Gaelic and English from Meg Bateman, Myles Campbell, Mark Goodwin and college Writer-in-Residence Rody Gorman. 

7.10 pm – 7.40: New York

New York City’s contribution to Distant Voices will take place at the Roger Smith, a hotel and arts organisation in midtown Manhattan (home of the groundbreaking Lab Gallery for installation and performance art).  In the Solarium on the hotel’s 16th floor, a poets’ luncheon with 40 invited guests will set the stage for readings by two acclaimed young writers: New York poet Caitlin Doyle, featured in Best New Poets 2009, edited by Kim Addonizio; and South African poet/journalist Henk Rossouw, 2009 winner of Poetry Society of America’s “Bright Lights, Big Verse: Poems of Times Square” competition.  The luncheon has been scheduled to coincide with dinnertime in Scotland so the guests can raise a glass to everyone at the Byre before the interval, and send a breathing postcard from the poets of New York.

Distant Voices - New York

8.10 pm – 8.40: Amsterdam

The Amsterdam Five –  Maria van Daalen, Tsead Bruinja, Astrid van Baalen, Elmar Kuiper & Cralan Kelder will perform in English as a special adaptation to the demands of this event. You can learn about their numerous books / translations / St. Andrews appearances / & websites on the internet.

8.50 pm – 9.20: Ghent

From Ghent, Krikri deliver polypoetry piping hot to your living room, with Maja Jantar, Jelle Meander and Helen White. Krikri’s aim is to highlight contemporary poetic activity in a way that is relevant to the 21st century stage. They organise a series of international festivals and also a range of different performances, projects and workshops.

9.30 pm – 10.00: Sacramento

The Sacramento reading takes place in The Book Collector, a bookstore in the midtown district of California’s Capitol. This reading is presented by Richard and Rachel Hansen in association with Poems-For-All and the Poet Laureate Project of Sacramento’s Metropolitan Arts Commission. The reading will feature Bob Stanley (Sacramento’s current poet laureate), Rebecca Morrison, and Indigo Moor.

Distant Voices - Sacramento

10.00 pm – 11.30: Live music and open mic


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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3 Responses to StAnza’s virtual poetry festival

  1. Pingback: StAnza Virtual Poetry Festival – Saturday 14 November — — Magma Poetry

  2. Barbara S says:

    Fantastic post on the lineup, Colin, I’ll throw this up on the blog later on, and try to tune in tomorrow. Hope demand is high; it’s an incredible-sounding event!

  3. what a great Zoo World Cheats resource your site is – nice one! if you want to trade any links let me know! do you have an rss feed?

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