Robert Crawford

Lessons from the School of Night StAnza (part 4)

‘It needs to be the right balance between patience and impatience, I think. You need a certain kind of bloody-mindedness to write the stuff in the first place, but you do have to patient enough to let things compost to the right stage’.
— Robert Crawford

Suzannah V. Evans met with Robert Crawford after his Centre Stage reading for StAnza poetry festival. They talked about the nature of place in poetry, the importance of writing economically, and the challenges of combining a day job with creative writing. Robert also read his poems ‘St Andrews’ (at 15m38s) and ‘Chorus’ (at 16m47s).

Note: We are currently moving our files from Soundcloud to another system. Please bear with us – the ‘Lessons from the School of Night’ will be back soon!

Interview by Suzannah V. Evans. Image, Eliana Berger

Robert Crawford’s seventh full-length collection of poems is Testament (Cape, 2014), and his most recent biography is Young Eliot (Vintage, 2016). Co-editor of The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse, he has worked on several collaborative projects with the Edinburgh-based photographer Norman McBeath, including Chinese Makars (Easel Press, 2016). He has also collaborated with the Hamburg-based artist Caroline Saltzwedel, with whom he is due to launch Fire (Hirundo Press) in 2017. His awards include the Saltire Society’s Scottish Book of the Year Award. He is Professor of Modern Scottish Literature and Bishop Wardlaw Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews.

Suzannah V. Evans was born in London and studied at the universities of St Andrews and York. She has worked in publishing and recently as a sound technician, translator, and interpreter for StAnza poetry festival in St Andrews. Her poetry and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Eborakon, The North, New Welsh Review, Tears in the Fence, and RAUM.

Lessons from the School of Night are an irregular series of video or audio interviews and tips from poets and writers who visit St Andrews. 

The School of Night – inspired by the group which included Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh – is Topping & Company Booksellers’ Year-Round Poetry Festival in St Andrews. Curated with the help of Don Paterson and playing host to poets as varied as Paul Muldoon and Lorraine Mariner, Simon Armitage and Annie Freud, it is anchored to a regular fixture on the last Tuesday of the month. The School of Night offers the chance to explore and discuss the work of some of the best poets on the contemporary scene. For more details on these and other events, please visit the Topping & Company website.

StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival, takes place in St Andrews each spring, in 2017 between the 1st and 5th of March.


Listen to the rest of the Lessons from StAnza 2017: Part 1 (Vahni Capildeo), Part 2 (Katharine Towers), and Part 3 (Paul Stephenson).