A note on: The StAnza Poetry Festival 2016 - Diary & Documention

StAnza is one of the UK’s principal poetry festivals, respected around the world, and drawing in a really admirable range of poets and events and audiences. I was very pleased then, having had many friends attend and perform, to be part of the festival in 2016, and could not have been better treated or had a better time sharing my work through readings, performances, discussions and workshops. 

I have a page that explains my participation with a Festival Diary, pictures and videos:

the Auld Fold! 1st publication of 2015

As part of Kathrine Sowerby's beautiful Four Fold publication series, five of the core touring poets also produced this collaborative poem that was published in January 2015 as the Auld Fold, featuring nick-e melville, Colin Herd, Ryan Van Winkle, Ross Sutherland and SJ Fowler. https://fourdotfold.wordpress.com/

Auld Enemies: a documentary on poetry, touring, Scotland & collaboration

What this means to me, Ross Sutherland's generous, technically excellent and warm hearted documentary of our Auld Enemies tour of Scotland, is quite significant. It's the most apt testament to what we did, in it's humour and flow and deference, and its so rare to have something concrete, something that will last, that somehow captures one of these poetry things I've been experiencing in the last year. So many times, like with my visits to Iraq, Mexico, Denmark, Venice etc.. in the last year, the experience feels so intense, so wonderful at the time that I know I'll remember it so fondly, and it'll be so significant to me, and yet there is only the work itself and the memory left. Which is a good thing. Yet when I confront this documentary, see what it stands for, for me, I am left feeling very grateful, very humbled that I might get to relive something very special, in the years to come, through it's being watched. 

Auld Enemies in London

It all ends up in London, and so we reconvened at the Rich Mix Arts Centre to invite new pairs of poets, screen some of Ross Sutherland's amazing documentary he made during our Scotland tour and share excerpts of the core poet's collaborations. A lovely evening to come together so soon, to reminiscence {already} and share our experience with friends and the like.  Auld Enemies London
Ross Sutherland & Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle & nick-e melville & SJ Fowler https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSUC5L742SQ
Emily Berry & John Clegg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJeKEFHrpUA
Vahni Capildeo & Jeremy Noel-Tod https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfA6MIC94mo
Tim Atkins & Jeff Hilson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi6wp_2wLFQ
Nick Murray & Eley Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9RD4-hGK84
Kirsty Irving & Harry Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VP91dLg1qk

Auld Enemies diary - Lerwick

We got the ferry from Aberdeen overnight to Lerwick, on the auld Northlink. Scots drinking like Vikings as we swanned in the Magnus lounge watching the world cup final. It was a singular experience, something intense and enjoyable, if occasionally stressful, about sea travel. We laughed a lot, the spirit of the tour has been defined by a real closeness, more than I could've imagined, that has been expressed through dark, biting humour. Colin and nick-e are extraordinarily dry. Most of us had cabin bunks, I could hear the sea and the engine as I scratched out a few hours sleep. We docked in Lerwick and then headed to our venue, the Mareel, an amazingly modern and beautiful arts centre, very plush. 

At this point nick-e got really ill and we had quite unforgettable drama at how serious this was and felt and could've been. Again a powerful realisation of how big this experience is, how close to so many important things, like friendship through creativity, going out of your comfort zone etc... nick-e stayed in overnight at hospital and missed the reading, which felt an afternote to me, of course, but was really well received and enjoyable and friendly. Ross was amazing on the night, lifted everyone up with his positive energy and indomitable professionalism, and Ryan and Colin too showed out just how resilient and genuine they are. The local poets were really talented, different to us, but all the more welcome to that, and the island felt like another world, as much for the way we arrived and experienced our first hours, as it's unique character.
Auld Enemies Lerwick
Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIz_GmfchMk
Nat Hall & James Sinclair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVrGiJIVErQ
Colin Herd & I https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv_o3xH7yUE
Laurajayne Friedlander https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_uFxkRzZy0
Donald Murray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoL4oheG8vU

Auld Enemies diary - Aberdeen

I for one had a brilliant few days in Aberdeen, the imposition of the architecture, the clear city beneath the city, the windswept drama of the weather, the endless microcosms of humour and local culture, and the underbellies of that - finding great bookshops, trawling the long, almost uninhabited beaches, the funfair. I found it to be a strange place, and all the better for my experience, taking plenty of time as I did, to explore by myself, to walk and to read. Our hosts were very gracious and we read in cellar 35, below a pub, green lit like a David Lynch film. The idiosyncratic nature of the readings, and the atmosphere, uniformly warm but quixotic, added yet another look to our rapidly expanding tour. 
Auld Enemies: Aberdeen
SJ Fowler & William Letford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6km9ykR0mm8
Keith Murray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT2Cyw951Oo
Gerard Rochford & Richie Brown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sx6vqnCVyk
Colin Herd & Ryan Van Winkle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmIxnofK4Vk
Maureen Ross & Catriona Yule https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz6YQ-j0Yhk
Haworth Hodgkinson & Bernard Briggs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLeHB1pJZIY
nick-e melville & Ross Sutherland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ddd62svSWU

Auld Enemies diary - Dundee

The beginning of the tour. Ross Sutherland & I up from London, Ross trapped by a lovely old Scottish gent / spider for hours out of lovely politeness, while I wrote. Dundee in blazing sun, looking beautiful. Into the Art College to read, the Duncan of Jordanstone building, reading in the foyet, walled by massive windows, a lovely space. Two local pairs of poets, and the wonderful Richard Watt, and the hospitality and immediately apparent generosity and professionalism of Peggy Hughes. Reading with Ryan Van Winkle myself, our Burbs, written over the last few years, the span of our friendship, since meeting in Sofia Bulgaria. And Colin Herd and Ross stealing the show, with their rave poem, washing over the gentile audience. A good beginning, back to Edinburgh in the car, with Colin, all at ease already, and beautiful countryside between the cities.
Auld Enemies: Dundee
William Letford & nick-e melville https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9nguF0rryY
Andy Jackson & Lindsay McGregor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKnLOyDcAes
Ryan Van Winkle & SJ Fowler https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acEzvn2oOw8
Jim Stewart & Dawn Wood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qWcQDijin8
Richard Watt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJizJchW6F4
Colin Herd & Ross Sutherland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnP3q4tGV6k

Auld Enemies: July 9th - 26th

7 locales : over 40 poets : a national tour of Scotland
& brand new innovative poetic collaborations : a Scottish Enemies project http://weareenemies.com/auldenemies.html

The Enemies project: Auld Enemies is a transnational poetry collaboration where six poets will work in rolling pairs to produce original works for readings across the breadth of Scotland. Each event will also feature numerous pairs of writers from the region, who will be presenting brand new poetry collaborations as well. Auld Enemies is a groundbreaking exploration of contemporary Scottish poetics through the potential of collaboration.

Auld Enemies will commence with a six date tour of Scotland, taking in Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lerwick in the Shetlands and finishing with Kirkwall in the Orkneys. It will conclude with an event in London, at the Rich Mix Arts Centre, on July 26th, which will feature many of the new works from the tour, new collaborations and a documentary screening about Auld Enemies.

Auld Enemies is fundamentally about the creation of new collaborative works and the integration of differing poetic communities, and has only been possible through the generosity of a series of organisational partners, first and foremost Creative Scotland, but also the Scottish Poetry Library, Literary Dundee, Summerhall, Shetland Arts, the Orkney Islands Council and Northlink Ferries.

Please find below the schedule and the poet's involved, and if possible, do spread the word, and attend all and any of the events you can:

July 9th - Dundee - 6pm
Duncan of Jordanstone (studio & foyer space) University Of Dundee, Perth Rd, Dundee DD1 4HT (with thanks to Peggy Hughes)

Billy Letford & nick-e melville / Ryan Van Winkle & SJ Fowler / Colin Herd & Ross Sutherland
plus AZ Jackson & Lindsay MacGregor / James Stewart & Dawn Wood / Richard Watt & more
July 10th – Glasgow - 8pm
McChulls 40 High Street (http://mcchuills.co.uk/) (with thanks to Henry Bell)

Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle / Billy Letford & Colin Herd / nick-e melville & SJ Fowler
plus Thomas Betteridge & Neil Davidson / Katy Hastie, Antony Autumn, Iyad Hayatleh & more
July 11th - Edinburgh - 7pm
Summerhall -- Demonstration Room. 1 Summerhall EH9 1PL
 http://www.summerhall.co.uk/ (with thanks to Jen White)

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison / Billy Letford & Ryan Van Winkle / SJ Fowler & Ross Sutherland
nick-e melville & Jane Goldman / Dave Coates & Rachel McCrum / JL Williams & Elspeth Smith / Luke Allan & Graeme Smith / Karen Veitch & Mike Saunders / Ed Smith & Thomas MacColl / Rob McKenzie & more
July 12th - Aberdeen 7pm
Cellar 35, 35 Rosemount Viaduct (http://www.list.co.uk/place/21626-cellar-35/ (with thanks to Gerard Rochford & Richie Brown)

Billy Letford & SJ Fowler / Ryan Van Winkle & Colin Herd / Ross Sutherland & nicke melville
Gerard Rochford & Richie Brown / Maureen Ross & more
July 14th – Lerwick, The Shetland Islands- 7pm
At the http://www.mareel.org/ arts centre. ZE1 0WQ (with thanks to Donald Anderson)

Ross Sutherland & nick-e melville / Colin Herd & SJ Fowler / Ryan Van Winkle
Nat Hall & James Sinclair / Donald Murray /  Laurajayne Friedlander & more
July 17th - Kirkwall, The Orkney Islands - 7pm
Kirkwall Library -- 44 Junction Rd, Highlands and Islands, Kirkwall KW15 1AG -- https://www.facebook.com/orkneylibraryandarchive) (with thanks to Pam Beasant)

Ross Sutherland & SJ Fowler / Colin Herd & nick-e melville
Rosemary Merriman, Sylvia Hays, Rosie Alexander, Lydia Harris & more
July 26th - London - 7pm

Ross Sutherland / nick-e melville / Colin Herd / Ryan Van Winkle / SJ Fowler
Emily Berry & John Clegg / Tom Chivers & Roddy Lumsden
Nick Murray & Eley Williams / Vahni Capildeo & Jeremy Noel-Tod
Kirsty Irving & Harry Man / Daisy Lafarge & more

the Hidden Door festival

Another very special time in Edinburgh. The Hidden door festival was an extraordinary undertaking, clear from the outset that it was entirely community based, built on people's sweat. Yet unlike so many things that emerge from this kind of DIY spirit, it was amazingly put together - well organised, beautiful to look at with some fantastic artwork, performances and installations, and vitally, it provided remarkable audiences. Both the walking tour and camarade event were concepts, imported in, that I had no way of controlling in that environment, so I had no idea how it would play out: it couldn't have fitted better. The poets were uniformly excellent, a wide range of tonalities and poetries on display, with a lean towards the energetic and intense, and funny, and the atmosphere was welcoming and as communal as the festival itself. For me it was lovely to idealise a city I don't live in, and need not experience the downside of, through the hospitality of the unusually innovative and original poets who inhabit it. So good to see old friends amidst making new ones, and for an event this like, a little bit special for all who witnessed and were part of it.
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yENlEGqBvW4
Graeme Smith & Anthony Autumn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x178S_I8mS8
Daisy Lafarge & Anne Laure Coxam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKJRX-hTeXQ
JL Williams & MacGillivray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmlcIs2I344
Greg Thomas & Lila Matsumoto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7J2491JF-0
Ryan Van Winkle & Sarah Kelly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNI5bAl5R-8
nick-e melville & Ross Sutherland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3shpmr-hCKA

& the Walking tour in the vaults themselves.

Hidden Door Camarade in Edinburgh

Last year I had the chance to curate travelling Camarade events in Bristol and Manchester, at the Arnolfini and the Cornerhouse, and it was apparent of all the poetry event formats I've tried, this is the one that seems to work almost anywhere. The normal structure is 12 to 20 poets, in pairs, writing original works of around 5 to 10 minutes. Well now, this year, I have the chance to put a Camarade on in Edinburgh, my favourite city outside of London in the UK. There are so many amazing poets in Edinburgh, genuinely original and innovative in their stance, and welcoming too, I had such a good time doing Caesura last year. Moreover, Ryan Van Winkle, Colin Herd, nick-e melville, Ross Sutherland, Billy Letford and I got funding from Creative Scotland this year to do the Auld Enemies tour, which is a like a mini rolling tour camarade, so all these things have flowed together.

http://hiddendoorblog.org/2014/02/24/s-j-fowler/ The Hidden Door festival will host the event, on March 29th, and their program is a really exciting and ambitious list of art installations in the unused vaults of Edinburgh town centre, alongside music and performance. And us. Here is the final list of the 18 poets Ive roped in to do the Hidden Door:

Ross Sutherland & nick-e melville
Samantha Walton & Jow Lindsay
Daisy Grove Lafarge & Anne Laure Coxam
Kirsten MacGillivray & JL Williams
Tom Jenks & SJ Fowler
Lila Matsumoto & Greg Thomas
Ryan Van Winkle & Sarah Kelly
Colin Herd & Iain Morrison
Graeme Smith & Anthony Autumn

& here, a sneak peek from Colin & Iain, setting the tone heavy hard to follow