Scotland’s finest poet performs to Elgin Academy students as part of the Moray book festival. Classes of S1 pupils trekked to Elgin Library in the typical rainy Scottish weather to see the lady herself in an event called, ‘Liz Lochhead: An Audience with the National Poet’.
Lochhead started off with ‘Kidspoem/Bairnsang’, a poem which transcends from Scottish dialect to formal English. She explains that she received a call asking her to write a poem that would encourage children to write creatively in their home-town language. The children in the audience seemed to interact well with the poet, answering the questions which provoked the children to think and also laugh along with her good natured lark.
Lochhead then recalled a famous Robert Burns poem, ‘To a mouse’, claiming “Robbie Burns was quite the Robbie Williams in his day – he was a rock star!” This poem allowed her to smoothly transition to one of her own poems, ‘From a Mouse’. The poet fell in love with Robert Burns’ poetry at the age of ten and even remembered this particular poem for a competition.
The poems she went on to read include: ‘Listen’, ‘Poem for my Sister’ and ‘The Choosing’. Lochhead commented on ‘The Choosing’ being the closest poem to an autobiography and ‘Poem for my Sister’ being her favourite poem.
An Elgin Academy student then asked Lochhead who her inspiration is and she replied: “I don’t have one person; it is lots and lots of people. Robert Burns was probably one of the very strongest”. She goes on to say: “Anyone who writes well gives you inspiration”.
She finished off with a poem called “Revelation” before having time for one more question – from myself. I asked: “Do you have any advice for budding poets?”
Sophie Thirkell (S6 Publicity Group) interviews Liz Lochhead the Makar
Lochhead simply states: “Switch on your five senses.”
She then referred to a quote from Ted Hughes, a former National poet laureate, which is: “Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic.”
Lochhead then finished up the poetry reading with a chance for inspired pupils to take pictures and get an autograph. She is the appointed Scots Makar, achieving this status in January last year. She attended Glasgow School of Art then taught fine art for eight years before deciding to ditch the lectures for a full-time career of a professional writing instead. She continues to write and tours with her work which have hit big festivals and theatres.
The Moray book festival will continue until the 22nd of September and will include other talented writers such as Alastair Scott, Stuart MacBride and Andy Wightman.
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Report by Sophie Thirkell (S6 Publicity Group)