It was very relaxing no longer being on the StAnza Board, and so not having any official duties. It meant I could build empty spaces into the days; spaces for relaxation and conversations. The Catherine Hales and Alan Buckley reading was an ideal start for me. I’ve known Alan as a regular StAnza attendee, but I’d never heard him read before, and he was quite superb – warm, intelligent and thoughtful. Catherine has long been a Facebook friend, but I’d never met her before. A Berlin-based poet, she has a distinct European-influenced style which I like. She also read from her translations of Norbert Hummelt’s selected poems – Berlin Fresco.
The evening reading in the Byre on the Thursday featured Kwame Dawes and Michael Symmons Roberts. I’ve long read and admired Michael’s work, and both readings were excellent.
Poetry Breakfast on the Friday was on the subject of text and image. Since the 1970s, discovering the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay, it’s a subject that has interested me, and the discussion was very good. I loved Claudia Daventry’s lunch-time reading too.
I took part in Alastair Cook’s Filmpoem event in the afternoon. The timings for my reading were crucial, and I was nervous beforehand, but it went well. The readings were from Jane Irina McKie, Jo Bell, Jennifer Lyn Williams, Kevin Cadwallender and myself.
The evening Centre Stage performances were by Lavinia Greenlaw and Chase Twichell. Chase in particular was very impressive.
Saturday was the Poets Market, where I manned the Calder Wood Press stall with Marion McCready. I was very pleased with sales, including Alec Finlay’s new book. Marion’s book sold out, as did Sonata Paliulyte. If I’d known, I’d have brought more copies, but these things are hard to predict.
Jackie Kay’s reading in the evening was hilarious and moving by turns, and her exuberant personality was infectious. Sunday started with a reading from Simon Barraclough and Gill Andrews – both very good indeed.
The Split Screen event on Sunday afternoon, brilliantly organised by Andy Jackson, saw 20 poets reading new poems inspired by characters from film and TV. I thought the readings were wonderfully varied. My friend Lyn Moir read poems from her Calder Wood Press book, Velázquez’s Riddle. Lyn was excellent, and it was great to see Las Meninas, full-sized, on the big screen behind her.
The Centre Stage readings were by Grace Nichols and Kathleen Jamie. Kathleen’s long been one of my favourite Scottish poets, and her reading was wonderful.
In between, Guinness and coffee with friends, poetic biscuits from Poetry Digest, meeting new folk, and the friendly atmosphere of this wonderful festival. Roll on 2013.
I got my contributor copies of Drey and Split Screen, and I bought books by Hales, Buckley, Hummelt, Roberts, Twichell and A C Clarke.
This is me reading as Yoda at the Split Screen event. Thanks to Jo Bell for the photo.