As I remember it, my first StAnza Festival was in 2003, and I’ve tried to attend every festival since then. I joined the Board of Trustees in 2005 and became its Chair the following year, for a three-year term. I stepped down from the Board after that, but I offered my services again in 2013, when my successor had to step down for health reasons, and I was re-elected Chair for a further term in 2014. My current term of office ends in 2017, the year I turn 75, and that seems like a good time to hand over to someone younger. It’s a job I have relished, but it can be quite onerous and time-consuming. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes throughout the year, as you’d expect for such a major international festival.
I love it. I enjoy each annual festival immensely, and I’ve had tremendously inspiring working relations with both Directors – Brian Johnstone and Eleanor Livingstone. – and with fellow Board members, aside from the fantastic opportunities to get to know some brilliant poets from around the world.
I missed parts of the festivals in 2011 and 2012, when I was looking after my mother, but this year I was obliged to miss almost the whole festival, as my wife had knee replacement surgery last week, and I’m at home looking after her. I was committed to leading the Poetry Walk on 3rd March, and I did that, driving up to St Andrews at the crack of dawn, and driving home to Dunbar as soon as it was over, so that I could take Jane to the Health Centre to have her surgical staples removed. I’m glad to say her surgery and post-op care went well, and she’s recovering very quickly. But I have missed StAnza this year.