I’m just taking a break from packing for the journey up to St Andrews for StAnza – the St Andrews Poetry Festival www.http://www.stanzapoetry.org).St Andrews itself is a lovely old town, right on the edge of the sea in picturesque surroundings, with a ruined Cathedral (it was pulled apart by ferocious Protestants during the Reformation) and wonderful bookshops. And the Festival itself is one of the best and most lively literary festivals in the UK. I have happy memories of being invited to the very first St Andrews Poetry Festival back in 1988, long before it was reincarnated as the present StAnza. It had a very Scottish flavour then: Douglas Dunn, Norman McCaig and Sorley MacLean were all reading, and I remember Sorley MacLean eyeing my tweed jacket approvingly and telling me, ‘That’s real Harris tweed, that is. It’ll last a lifetime.’ Twenty-two years later the jacket looks as good as new and I’m planning to give my lecture wearing it, in memory of that occasion.
The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Myth and Legend’, apparently, so I’m going to speak on ‘Myth, Magic and the Future of Poetry’, at 3.30 pm on Thursday.
The blurb – not too pretentiously, I hope – is:
It seems clear that (as Robert Graves predicted sixty years ago in ‘The White Goddess’) we are approaching the end of an historical era. Climate change and many other factors are already altering the world fundamentally. To find an adequate creative response, poets will need to look again at the deep roots of their art. The lecture will explore ways in which an awareness of myth and a sense of the shamanistic role of the poet, may help us to survive and even flourish imaginatively in a world very different from the one we thought we knew.
and I’ll be reading my poems with Jean Sprackland at 11.30 on Friday.I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends, and especially to hearing Seamus Heaney read on Thursday evening. Do come along if you can possibly make it to St Andrews. And if you can’t, and are curious about my lecture, I’ll be putting the text of it on this blog – hopefully – on Friday morning so if you have the stamina, you will be able to read it here! I think StAnza is also going to podcast it – check their website for details as I’m not sure about that!