Brian Johnstone has been active on the Scottish literary scene for over 20 years. A founder in 1998 of StAnza: Scotland's International Poetry Festival and in 1991 of the Edinburgh platform for live readings Shore Poets, he has made a major contribution to the presentation of live poetry in Scotland. He was Festival Director of StAnza from 2000-2010 and has been involved in a range of other book festival and literary events in the last decade. He has served a judge for a number of prestigious poetry competitions, including the Wigtown and William Soutar awards, and is a member of the 2014 poetry panel for the Scottish Book Trust's New Writers Awards.
The [StAnza] festival as a whole, and your part in it, refreshed my belief in art and ambience. Seamus Heaney
I must congratulate you on StAnza! I can't think when I've taken part in a better organised poetry festival. Fleur Adcock
A festival like yours can only happen when the people who run it have sound values and impressive organisational skills. This attracts good people to the events – from the volunteers to the audience – and the quality shines through. Gwyneth Lewis
I returned home both jealous of and heartened by the quality and variety of the programme. What a fine, fine festival you have bulit! Naomi Jaffa, Director, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival
Like a proud parent...it has been gratifying to watch you nurture the infant, haiku StAnza into the fully-fledged epic poem the festival has become, a flagship for...our extraordinary literary festival scene in Scotland.
Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature, Scottish Arts Council
1991 A founder of Shore Poets in Edinburgh, running monthly poetry & music events.
1993 Elected Shore Poets Convenor; in post to 1998.
Organised poetry event for The Crawford Arts Centre, St Andrews.
1995 Founded and directed Cave Readings poetry & music events for Pittenweem Arts Festival.
1996 Organised poetry events for Scottish International at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Ran expanded Cave Readings at Pittenweem Arts Festival; continued until 1999.
Organised Take Five one day poetry festival at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.
1997 Appointed consultant to Pittenweem Arts Festival Committee; in post for one year.
Organised appearance for Shore Poets at Edinburgh International Book Festival.
1998 A founder of StAnza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival in St Andrews.
Elected Chairman of the StAnza Festival Committee; in post to 2000.
1999 Ran anthology launches for St Andrews University poetry workshop; until 2003.
2000 Major involvement in funding, planning, marketing and management of StAnza 2000.
Took over as Festival Director on resignation of founding Director.
2001 Confirmed by organising committee as Festival Director of StAnza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival.
2003 StAnza reconstituted as a charitable company limited by guarantee.
Engaged as Festival Director by StAnza Trustees; first paid staff member of organisation.
2004 Chair of poetry events at Edinburgh International Book Festival; continuing to 2011.
Arranged poetry event in St Andrews for Book Adventures American literary tour.
Organised Shore Poets special event at Leith Festival, Edinburgh.
2005 Organised Poetry at the Brickworks event for The Words Out! Festival, Perth.
2006 Organised series of readings at the Royal Scottish Academy for Visual Arts Scotland.
2008 Organised Scottish poets’ appearance at Stavanger European City of Culture.
Chair and interviewer for principal poetry events at Wigtown Book Festival.
2010 Stood down as Festival Director of StAnza; appointed Festival Consultant by Trustees.
2011 Principal judge (English language) of Wigtown Book Festival Poetry Competition
2013 Judge of William Soutar Writing Prize (poetry), Perth & Kinross Council
Left paid staff of StAnza Festival; continued consultancy work on a voluntary basis.
2014 Elected to the Executive Committee of Scottish PEN - served till 2016
Appointed to judging panel for the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards (poetry)
2015 Advisor to The Poetry Archive for recordings of Scottish poets
Appointed Honorary President of StAnza: Scotland's International Poetry Festival
2016 Initianted Scotia Extremis project with Andy Jackson & co-edited online anthology
2019 Edited the Scotia Extremis anthology with Andy Jackson; published by Luath Press
Took over running Platform Sessions in Ladybank, with Beth McDonough & Rebecca Smart