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- Liz Lochhead Wins Queen's Gold Medal

Liz Lochhead Wins Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
January is, of course, the time when Scotland celebrates the genius of Robert Burns. His verse lives on with Auld Lang Syne remaining as popular as ever and the wonderful Address to the Haggis preceding many a Burns Night feast.

But my favourite contemporary Scottish poet is Liz Lochhead.

I see I expended all of 75 pence for her 1972 'Memo For Spring' (pictured) which was surely one of my better youthful spending decisions, albeit at a time when that sum could buy several pints of beer.


Now Ms Lochhead's contribution has been recognised in the award Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. The medal is awarded to a UK or Commonwealth citizen, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award.

Carol Duffy, the Poet Laureate paid tribute to Liz Lochhead when she announced the award: added: “Since the early 1970s she has influenced an entire generation of other writers, bringing a new kind of poetry performance to the stage, as well as a different set of rhythms to the page.

“From the start, she spoke in her own feisty female voice, mixing old Scots with new Scots — as aware of Burns as of Morgan — and she did this with a galvanizing spirit and vitality that helped to change the landscape of British poetry.”

Ms Lochhead,a native of Lanarkshire wrote her first poem, The Visit, in 1965 when she was studying at Glasgow School of Art. She has been writing ever since, as poet, playwright and translator.

She was appointed Makar - Scotland's official poet - in 2011

In the Mid-Midwinter by Liz Lochhead

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s – from John Donne’s

'A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the Shortest Day'.

At midday on the year’s midnight

into my mind came

I saw the new moon late yestreen

wi the auld moon in her airms though, no,

there is no moon of course,

there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of

in the sky except a gey dreich greyness

rain-laden over Glasgow and today

there is the very least of even this for us to get


the light comes back

the light always comes back

and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.


there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,

fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,

and lines of old songs we can’t remember

why we know

or when first we heard them

will aye come back

once in a blue moon to us


bless us with their long-travelled light.

Reproduced by permission of the author.

Fugitive Colours, her latest volume of poems, will be published in May.

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
January 2016

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