Jacob Sam-La Rose would like you to move your hands when you hear something familiar. A wave, jazz fingers, a shy thumbs up: anything will do.
You may not even notice it, but every March Scotland's international poetry festival hits our small town for five days, bringing with it some of the biggest names from all over the world.
Friday night saw a night of poetry at Zest Cafe. Hosted by StAnza, the evening kicked off with acclaimed Scottish poet Rab Wilson, reading a selection of poems from his various works. Many of the poems were autobiographical, lending some insight into what an interesting and varied life he has led. Wilson writes from a wealth of experience, from his time as a miner during the strikes of the 1980s,to his time as a psychiatric nurse. More contemporary pieces lament the state of modern-day Scotland. The poems are riddled with cultural references, from Rodin to Gil Scott-Heron, as in my personal favourite of the evening: a searing condemnation of how the police dealt with murderer Raoul Moat, cleverly entitled 'The Execution Will Be Televised'.
Every March, StAnza International Poetry Festival hits St Andrews and floods the town with poets, artists and creative pilgrims for half a week. However, slightly less well-known are their events in St Andrews throughout the year.
California is renowned for its beaches, palm trees, suburban sprawl, and endlessly sunny days, but in reality California can’t be accurately embodied by any of these conceptions. The main reason being that the beaches and palm trees are fake, but the second reason being that once you move away from the coast California is actually a state of vast, uninhabited tracts, and such wild tracts of land that there’s a reason not many people have made such places their home.
It takes a lot of courage to show your writing to somebody, let alone a room full of rapt strangers, plus a nonplussed Aikman’s barman polishing a pint glass in the corner and silently judging your use of iambic pentameter. Inklight is an idiosyncratic society, yet also a very warm and welcoming one. Everyone from wobbly-legged first years toting poetry written during A-Level angst and gap yah excess, to students for whom English isn’t even their first language, found the courage to clutch the microphone with trembling (and slightly sweaty) hands and read out their work.
St Andrews is a pretty hard place to keep anything a secret – whether it’s a house party on Market Street or your hook-up from the Lizard – and yet some things just seem to slip under the radar of students.
You don’t really expect gangster rap from Latin love poetry. But it exists. Beneath the formal words, there are poems that would make Tupac blush if you know where to look. Imagine a collection with poetry so filthy that scholars don’t dare translate it fully in English until the end of the 20th century. That’s Catullus.
“Robert Burns is the only man to have a statue on every continent – Shakespeare doesn’t,” proudly proclaimed the Chairman of the evening, Eric Brown of the Scores Hotel. Did you know that? I didn’t. It was just one of many things I learned last night at the Belated Burns Supper held by St Andrews’ very own Fine Food & Dining Society and the At Home and Abroad Society at the Best Western Scores Hotel.