StAnza Poetry Festival: Interviews and Readings

Suzannah V. Evans interviews some of the poets appearing at the StAnza Poetry Festival in 2018 and 2019. Each conversation concludes with the poet reading a few poems from their work.

Liz Berry’s Locations and Locutions

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The title of Liz Berry’s first, multi-award-winning poetry collection, Black Country, signals her place of birth – and unsurprisingly the book was described by reviewers as a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’. A more symbolic place is visited in her second pamphlet, The Republic of Motherhood, which maps the transformative experience of giving birth and raising her children. Suzannah V. Evans explored Liz Berry’s personal landscapes in conversation. Read more about this talk here.

Polly Atkin on the Places of Her Poetry

Polly Atkin published her first full length poetry collection, Basic Nest Architecture, in 2017. Like her two pamphlets before it – bone song (2008) and Shadow Dispatches (2013) – Basic Nest Architecture won critical acclaim, including New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize. Suzannah V. Evans chatted with Polly about the roots of her poetic life in places like Cumbria, where she now lives, as well as within the StAnza poetry festival, where this interview was recorded. Read more about this talk here.

JL Williams on the Origins of Her Poetry

When she was growing up in rural New Jersey, JL Williams wrote a play about pirates. Today, Williams is best known as a poet, but she has continued to sail across various genres, including visual arts, dance, theatre, and, most recently, opera. Although Williams may have put pirates long behind her, associations with the sea, and the dramatic portrayal of a vividly realised world, still run deep in her poetry, as Suzannah V. Evans discovered when she caught up with her in 2018. Read more about this talk here.

Rachael Boast on the Language and Sound of Poetry

As a poet, if you cooperate with language you end up ‘saying things you didn’t know you were thinking.’ So claims the multi-award-winning poet Rachael Boast, in this interview. But although poetry may emerge from somewhere unconscious, the course of their conversation draws to the surface Rachael’s life and works. Read more about this talk here.

Will Harris on Becoming a Poet

It can seem dauntingly difficult for a young poet to gain a name and to get published by a respected press or magazine. But that’s exactly what Will Harris has achieved with his 2017 pamphlet All this is implied, a collection that explores the complexities of being a person of mixed Anglo-Indonesian heritage. Read more about this talk here.

Gillian Allnutt on a Life in Poetry

Gillian Allnutt is the author of nine collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Wake, was published by Bloodaxe in 2018. Ahead of its publication, Suzannah V. Evans caught up with Gillian Allnutt at the StAnza Poetry Festival in St Andrews, to reflect on her career in writing and to hear her read from some of her earlier work. Read more about this talk here.

Featured photo credit and copyright: Suzannah V. Evans.

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