Page last updated at 20:47 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Bard's head ignites poetry event

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The matchstick head was lit by sculptor David Mach

Artist David Mach kicked-off this year's Stanza poetry festival by setting fire to a life-sized matchstick head of Robert Burns.

The sculptor, famous for his M8 Big Heids, lit the head at a reception in St Andrews attended by Alex Salmond.

In addition to featuring speakers and readers from across the world, this year's festival will also honour and assess the legacy of Burns.

The festival runs until Sunday, 22 March.

The event, which began in 1998, will allow people to examine a wide variety of poetry and hear world-class poets read.

Exhibitions linking poetry with art, and the part poetry has played in the lives of a diverse range of writers, musicians and media personalities will also be on show during the five-day festival.

'Major poets'

Contributing writers featuring include Ian Rankin, Carol Ann Duffy, Peter Porter and Kate Clanchy.

The festival is also part of Homecoming 2009 and and will include seven special events dedicated to Robert Burns.

Mr Salmond said: "The Stanza Poetry Festival has established itself as a highlight of the literary calendar, attracting major poets from home and abroad.

"That is what makes it a perfect way to explore the poetic legacy of Robert Burns, while inviting everyone influenced by him to come home and join the celebrations in St Andrews.

"This is a great way for people to connect with poetry -which is at its most inspiring when it is performed.

"Over the next five days, with over 70 poets from New Zealand, America, Canada, Australia, Italy, Lithuania and across the UK, and over 50 individual events, St Andrews will offer a unique opportunity to share words, stories and appreciation.

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