Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer and poet Liz Lochhead. She was the Makar, the Scottish national poet, between 2011 and 2016. Liz was born in Motherwell, not far from Glasgow, in 1947. She was always drawing at school and so decided to study at the Glasgow School of Art, where she didn't enjoy the drawing, but did start writing. After winning a poetry competition, she started performing her poems at readings in Scotland. She published her first pamphlet of poetry, Memo for Spring, in 1972, after a publisher heard her at a reading. After her second volume of poetry was published in 1978 and she won the first Scottish/Canadian Writers' Exchange Fellowship which took her to Toronto for a year, she was able to give up her job as an art teacher and start writing full time. From the early 1980s, she started writing plays as well as poetry, and has also adapted classic Greek and French plays for the stage. She was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2015. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is the bbc hulu on Kirsty young. Thank you for downloading this podcast of desert on an discs from BBC radio, or for rights reasons, the music choices are shorter than in the radio broadcasts. For more information about the programme. Please visit bbc dotcom, dont uk slash radio for the. My customary this week is the writer liz, lunkhead, poetry and plays in prose have flowed from her pen for nigh on forty five years. a story, teller at heart. She right she says for consolation and for fun. We,
it and enjoy it for the fresh distinction she brings to the everyday business of life from warrant sales to cereal, monogamy, her eye and ear capture, moments and moods with considerable craft and heart and humor use of the vernacular ties her unmistakably to scotland. Indeed, she spent five years as its national poet, but in truth, had life has ranged far and wide canada, turkey, america and even england have at times in her home. She says of her poems they seem as naked and as intimates as any journal and sometimes painfully so so welcome No that's kind, but you did signals you're at that stage. Now in your life and also by reputation where you do collected, work
and that must necessitate you looking back and reading and analyzing the stuff from your early years of rising, going back through your life through your work. What's the sensation was that that feel like it feels is still. Sometimes you find things things ready for this this programme, sometimes sometimes things things you can't remember, and they come back very sharply to you as if he'd never written them the never connected with them in that way, but it must be realised that all the time I have been mediating, my life through making pictures with words
You nothing quite visual, hope there quite visual and because I went to school, perhaps you would awarded the queen's gold medal for poaching twenty fifteen will ever sport twenty victims of abuse in February twenty sixteen was given this gone. What is fantastic? That means you an enormous surprise and a slightly surreal feeling is. If not the kind of thing that happened to me, the queen was really wonderful. She was very funny. She told me about em meeting each sit, wealth and usually young and her sister. She said man, Patrick as to point of getting them, were far too young. He's makin either quite naughty. We got the pickles and she asked. Come on, and I did we ever get giggles and employed should readings, and they both looked at each other and said. Yes, we do. It said missus garland of your caroline duffy is I've read that you began to write poetry?
as a youngster, because you couldn't sing out of that right now. But I will, I wonder what what's your relationship with music and very, very important and remembering been told not to the accident thing. You know when miss pages it. The pathetic music teacher is appalling and when she said somebody groaning and can render listen. She said to me: just you do silence, Was it because your voice was deep, nor didn't say was a tune. A second we with great enthusiasm army should never do that to some days enjoying themselves. Let's go to them. Little ahead. Tell me, then, about your first one. What are we gonna hear first off this morning, will be
He had joined mitchell when here the very start of blue in the album blew. It was very hard to even pick, even which junior mitchell to how far less pickwick eight records there's just start civil album, and I think, if I'm in the desert island in cuba I'll be able to sing it also be silencing in and say to jukebox him ahead. The whole album I used to think I was doing my children of his our school at once. I started writing points I think, to myself journey mitchell as me, except my. We re me things of music to them and I can't sing and other than mother will not california I'm drowning travelling to age.
I made my stockings between deeply look a bit jenny mitchell singing all I want at. Let's talk for a moment about the preoccupation that people often haven't seems to begin in schools of decoding poetry. Let's find out what the poet was really talking about, what he make of that show, this Because the talking about other things as well, but the story in the surface doesn't make sense, I'm in malawi, boy ones me sit. Saving! You wrote that we move it up bill. What we give you return You see that
That's what you do you think you re push. You don't get into the words that, of course, I know that that particular point was about repression and sexuality and doubtless enlightened soon. But if it wasn't about bul, until we get a look in on it would be of anything metaphysical, work as a plain study. First is your resistance to it also may be based on the fact you feel it puts a lot of people off, or maybe I can't work out what this is about youth. When people feel that the wrong they're right at his throat, the teacher- that's right. Seeing me some people have told me that you have people said this in that they ve said ass tat and she said it was not at all. You know. I definitely think poetry is about em communicating, first of all to myself and then to other people, s boys, I mean people could make here to tell us something.
so the guy that written about probably ridden read it in public or but you don't like when I look at the garden on a saturday, maybe two out of five poems. I can't make here to tell us what the trying to do. I don't have the clue in a sea that is what play, but the clues it could have take me there is missing the ce surprised me in delight me. Let's go to the next piece of music than those locker. Tell me about your second one today. What we gonna hear this is buns. This is probably one of funds is, was beautiful, songs ever, and that was a man that rule a hell of a lot of peter. And saw a man who wrote songs when he stopped being able to write poetry towards the end of his life. The last ten years abundantly you'll, never one point one major point which is damaging to buy a route, hundreds and hundreds of songs, a router own scotland, with a federal and
it was a kind of recording thing, even glenn, tunes and then a bit player. With them indian and begin to rate songs to fit that tune and soon. Oh excuse me up. He was apparently not a good thing at all. Pete sums- and this is my friend- make Amato, who also to truly wonderful songs and isn't nearly as well known as it should be. Not every year in the past, what signal mine me, Why is that
michael marrow with mister mc, false chamber and Green grew the rash issue after the war was the dull country I was born in so went to your poland. This law had em tell me a bit more than about your background. It was boxing day munting. Four to seven. My mother thought she d indigestion m after eating a whole job of peculiarly bizarre that was her pregnancy for ever and the christmas dinner, but wasn't born to boxing Your parents, then not even a home of the own. They were living with which grandparents, which, at that time to Elizabeth my dad's, mom and dad Andy various unmarried brothers and sisters, will to achieve them and obey council house in key nuke a larger at so you were run about sort of five ass. When you you can moved into their own home. It was their own. It was there a council house, their first home and at last autumn
lifted elderly that must have been a remarkable sort of flowering of the family to be able to have their own. Who melick and remember going for on the two buses with my mom to get there? I remember seeing him up with a b children Nea and should all yes to be lots of children, and indeed the rare enough it will. The children like me. And they didn't much real switchblade me. Then I don't know how to be a child properly, because been surrendered. I know I've been facet, felicity grown up, conversation for four years, but I remember my mom even allowed. For some reason the walls were to stand, putting plastered or something still drying out, so you don't like the wallpaper donor, you're, not encourage too said, member, my mom two trees of in a tinted distemper one orange and one green haven't thought better achieved a pit. I stood a spirit of stockings one in each hand with his tennis ball in it, and she was rolling back in
nobody listens, whacking them back and forward in the walls, and you get a lovely out deco affect fitful you're, seeing one orange one green. The significance of that, of course, is coming from the part of the west of scotland that you came from. It was notably sectarian. It was just they could not just now, but that was obviously so for my mom and it never was because she late both origin, green round about where we lived. I grew up in a family who were my moment, admirable christians and thereby defiantly anti sectarianism. They thought it was poison of the west of scotland. You attend by the time your city was born. I was just get. What are your feelings about this at the time of enormous delight, he still my closest friend ass. I remember been terribly offended because everyone here people talked internet. it's too busy or the older one lobby jail is to be very jealous. She's, been you to be the only one. I remember the motley offended workers. You couldn't speak up to adults because I just was delighted. You know that this be thing you know who turned up for me,
wonderful more musical is lockheed. Let's hear your site, one tell me about this. Oh, this is one of my favorite songs and this I pick this because it amazes me and we have been some to buy my dad but am because he could sing unlit mama me kirsty, trying to pick it bob Dylan to be so difficult battle is, but I love this one because I took the place of vinegar, johnny cash sing it in his will and it's a girl from the north country. Remind me to one What is worse? love. The boy Hang in there,
all down bob Dylan enjoying cash girl from the north country youporn. Nineteen. Fifty three is an interesting one. It writes very energetically, a boat These grown ups in this new states in this new part of chapter, their life, opening up making paths and gardens and the heathen grapes don't slabs to make pathways in their making curtains. You say fit to hang. Coordination DE did your your parents postwar optimism extend to what they wanted for their daughters? Were they absolutely? Yes, they were aspirational where they incredibly aspirational, but none
pushy way. You know I remember, among seemed to me when I was condemned to say not for primary school. I remember splashing and a public interest seem willing to Mamma said and your dad, and I want you to know that if you want to go into university, we'll make every sacrifice and it would have been sacrifices. Well, I suppose it wasn't so much of a sacrifice because of one of the lucky generation who was actually paid, grant you go to further education in people of my generation. We don't know we had made him. You know these people right into the relatives to china, co, funded education and so on aspirational working class. You always just such a strong thing. They had come back after the war,
and they really wanted things to be better. Did they read Portugal? My mom spoke poaching, but they knew that surrounds adopted. My dutch read to me my judge read me things like tangle routines before I could treat my grandmother. Her mother had been a mate and an allocation is house and she had cleared all these things lived off by heart, presumably will clean stairs and She said them to me, even though, as we so when I stayed with my ground, granddad miranda sang and of an ever seen for I've. Dorglums I'd be on his chest and I would see sing yes side, song granddad and he would say things like the drunken drag between. I would crave
We enjoyed already then enjoyed we peace. Let's have some music must not. Yet this is your force. This is the great michael matter again Michael and I used to do a short together name. Is we ve lima baselines? He died almost four years ago at the of sixty five to young Michael row, the song a fight. This is the first time I met Michael about Fifty years ago he wrote the song to go and assure called I'll be home from whom I find out. And rather lovely than the iconic glasgow, some shit I'd undoing in how could it not pit mother Glasgow Glasgow's my home, and this is make us again. the second set of the the last villain masses. Wayne
working time. Let those lings unconsciously sheet lips little way, and glasgow soccer is the two men selling belly and the dream that do good done that was Michael now, you're good friends seeing their mother Glasgow. This ought to be art students in the mid sixties must have been rather a thrilling thing. I expect what were you what are your concerns? What we have preoccupations as a student above as an art student, and I did want to paint- I wanted to be a painter. I had never occurred to me that I would
right things. I found it. I was often not pleased with my job and so started. Writing long. Then things during the site and everything well when I'd take them up on mount vernon, my mom would take them up. I would think this would have to go to the end of the lane and everything will have a asp was reported to the tune. Then the note pro's suppose that point things, but I did start rating almost immediately. I went to skill and it gradually took over with me. I mean it was preoccupied with say, gettin, my here right and they get no date for Saturday night things like that, like all girls of that, It was very self conscious. I thought this was wrong for sixties. I didn't luke. Rey have failed in the wrong kind of figure and I was like twiggy and you know when you look back you thank god. You know. six and luke's are wasted on the young. I was created his answer for his school, but others
really really surgeon and thinking about the kind of painter, but I would like to be in and was floundering desperately and am writing thing was. I wasn't floundering in the same way a avail of his fainting oat somethin. I remember mama. My basic enduring. She still with a very, very baseless, says it. The first time she made me I was hidden. I was on the floor. Under the courts, the outskirts, an amazon, the flu scribbling obedience, she said: what are you doing and she's adele weak taught us a right napoleon and she said she thought up a pretentious and then she realized wednesday girlfriends six months later. She thought she was right in a pointless for us to look at we're. Gonna hear some one of your musical choices. Tell me about this. This is europe, your fists disk, or this is dusty springfield and I think it speaks for itself.
That was dusty, spinster, I'm going back a little ahead. You first and a living is an art teacher. Will you good arts teacher pulling visually appalling? I was always kevin bike milk chain from didn't freezer sunday, london city into school with last night, is misguided I haven't been don't do not reading some weird and slipped in summer. Blue. Are you and we have seen an imitation, be budgets
so what you'd? By that time you were trying to combine writing and performing with teaching. Yet teaching was just what I had to do to earn a living. I mean at school ending and having a good teacher training, Jordan, who that was a bit of a shock. I knew it was common, but I just go village a place at that point. I found it very difficult to it: into teacher training college. You said that in times past poetry was meant to be written as the one I'm quitting it directly. Here you were push up male english and dead. The choice as you so often have throughout your career, to write in the vernacular and to see I'm not going to imitate those people who ve been well regarded and gone before, but I'm gonna do it my way that takes a lot of confidence and I'm wondering where your confidence,
came from to begin doing that. I couldn't feels coincidence. I just want to do it. You know I am still not confident it always interested in the vernacular. The push me languish indeed, as well. Even look back I'll, be back oleg things I didn't think I was dumb yo ho dumb to make your first play about byron, shelly, maybe shelly, maybe Shelley's, m, half sister Andy, a maid and and the monster you know, play difficult stage that but no difficult to write. You know which people, it Biden, staff julie. You know I didn't do that thing, that they said that you should do just write what you know, but in your report and you sit in arousing the vernacular use words like scale open greek and that's the only when its that's the right thing for that piece of work I don't hold any play for
courts, you you don't such no. It's just languidly any other language, I'm scottish and as a big part of my dainty, but I dont think and in access to, and god do. I love the waste of scotland Juno m of the beautiful but there's just one option. Among others. Tell me about your next piece of music members. Locker, it's your six! This is my philosophy of life. I think I think one of the funniest songs of ever hit and it has today present all the great american. So right, you know, I'm devastated the abnormal m guesswork, nor learns heart on any of my favorites of cool porter, but I do love. Hoagie can Michael, I had just left the soul, but into sums up something very important to realize about life. Now now, right now, Jonah ain't, no mackerel, some do they're, just no fish
no flounder. You flowers therefore face, and although you messed up their days are less says for some days, there has been no, no, no some days will stop by hoagie card, Michael sundays, they're, just ain't, no fish having a little wanderlust located during that is that about professional life. You know you put out your net there you're trying to find the words to write the poem, but it's maybe a little bit of the professional bit of the personal too is is also on the island of eve too literally, to be seen but metaphors. That can be literally true as well. You know some days you can't get any fish, but definitely you know. Sometimes you can't get somebody to give you a job in the theater. Sometimes in your thirties, you can't find a decent boyfriend, sometimes ruin rating your chain and train and train some days. It's not working
You're not in control, as was a song, says: you're, not uncontrolled your life, so then lose you were, I think, you're right about thirty gates. When you met the man who would become your husband, you met tom and architects to tell me about how you met, because, honestly, if you'd been writing a plea, you may have written this as the being seen it was. It was hoped many wasn't it was it. You use english at no, that's the first ever got together oasis in romania. I do know what you ve met before. That was a man just, but I just men, three months before that movie disliked Tom teacher, I met some really at the end of our joint class. He went with my best, ranging from large scale. I just went to me jerry for drinking a pop and he was told tat was gorgeous. Man had ever seen in my life and you ll find it in time very, very much. I'm gonna go together with the matter
great. I didn't know, I didn't know we would live together, the rest of his life, and so you have this case on new year's eve on hot money, and that was it that much. I know it's radio for the rational unless they have got to the end of the matter in accomplishing allocate thing or that I remember after a couple of these terms, it I've got to go home tomorrow because them of definite got to a clean shirt and clean method more toothbrush. So we made a date for the following week to go to the cinema and stuff like that, and I thought not be fine bone come data this year under the other tuna said, although this was in edinburgh You can watch to glasgow to my party and saturday night. Is it or you having a party with a voice from the unknown? I had to go back and hoover. So along relationship with its laws, you to say
There is even less with its ups and downs like I'm a long relational hype, we'd never ever fell in love with each other. We have achieved that might yet you were asked to become macher which, as we know it, in the words of the poet laureate, not long after your husband had died after a short and it'll, illness and- and I wonder why you decided to take that your one cosette was up
big professional responsibility. Yes, it was just six months after term died under Heaven. I thought, oh god, you know, I thought. Oh hell, you know when they said regulated national poet and ozma sister said to me. She can't remember this. She said a word you this and she said what we term sea, which is what you do. I never wanted to write about grief air, but as part of the macro, damn it. I just might be asked to do all kinds of things and did you write it for their national big league in scotland allows us to do a poem about favorite place and so is trying to do my job properly in any andy. I kept not been pleased with what I was doing. You know or train right about this place that we got it Tom and I went till the time
and I still go to em andy is turned out to be a just row about what we would be doing and at the end of what was not happening- and this is a big to me about this over time and buses and tell me their sad stories and so on, and I am glad that I wrote it, but it's probably all aware too, I don't know, but I think it might be. Possibly all I want to write about grief and I think the thing is about rating point. You you're trying to get the word stone as accurately as he can not not enough slowly, we, but simply and its truthfully as you can. I am glad that point was helpful to other people, but sometimes it poetry, readings. People ask me to read it
but of leather router, and in that five years, as you say, such things were required of you being mecca yeah in that period after the shock and the loss and everything that you are dealing with when that far fears came to an end and when It worked as I presume you must have been working extremely hard and turning up in doing readings and doing everything that was professional required. If you at the end of that five years, what sheep did the grief have in your life? the period of intense activity it can still floor me doing was the first thing that came back envy for me before the writing. Ah, I couldn't write for ages, but I remember even a month,
after been up, but the caravan I don't mean I could draw away or but I mean I could lose myself and drawing yes, I do love performing and I do love be no going, but am also need a lot of time to myself and to write an ado spend a lot of time by myself. So I'd probably quite used to some of the aspects sabena, these island before we get there. I want you to tell me about this, and this is your servants piece of music. Well, this is them. When I invented a party to invite my husband who had looked it would be my husband, Evan invented a party for him to come over to this is the thing he does to his marvin geese at tat time,
there may be a bathroom that was Marvin Gaye and I heard it through the great kindness headless love had that was played at the party that was invented violated. Yes we ve come this far, and we really haven't talked at all about older pleased that you ve written use, you ve penned original things, the stage including merrick scots go ahead chopped off. There was the olivier nominated perfect days, but you ve done lots of added patients tunes you don't moliere check off and so on difficult. Big things are no one and have reputations; it must be a much more collaborative process when you
right for the stage, and that seems very different me from the process of being a poet alone. Struggling with the words will you doin right and you do an original, please is not so very different- we made a queen of sports car head chopped off, is a big problem and we rise means estonian and all that well working this in Europe. It is is very good because of go the hard work done. You just get the language stuff in the fun. I've done theme all ears, for instance, there are in raymond fringe, so I think we should drive when you translate them into english. But in my case very strongly supports inflicted english. Do you think experience makes you're rising richer? Oh, yes, it's got to hasna when there's got to be some consolation for your bibbs good, nor national geographic. Tell me, then, how do you imagine your islands casually
will have imagined it. Oh yes, I'm a very lucky in ireland is a kind of island view them bridge beaks sail from the sun in force. It is a cheese on your lap and there's lots of lovely fruit and these fish a dying to jump into this improvise knit of had to make of an old peter types of ever. If I can keep my energy and my marquis to bet going, then I'll be able to keep mocked him as my life, I'm gonna be rescued because I'm gonna be dying. It s, good, don't nobby haven't my mistake in childhood and the island, but all the time we hope to be rescued. Back to veto can go to the movies you tell me about your final piece of music was not tat way. I find a piece of music is not to stand in for all the more subtle love and that's got to stand in for other sabellius, another philip glass and o the cut veil and other things I can put in
m after my mother died. My dad and I began to can go away, but known again, not nearly enough because he died very unexpectedly just about a year. After my mom died not baked off for both mrs around me, but am boy to the opera, we went to the opera and even with a ticket for good bye to the opera again to another. One that we never meet minute tells me to keep doing things when it's time, but we want to see don giovanni in the theater royal at an m. There is great. My dad was a good thing that you don't just just a lord retainer voice, but tat we went to see don giovanni report enjoys very very much. Indeed, ambassador was actually company
you. I was lucky durham, lemon or from, that was lucky therein, Lamont or from both sides I was lucky the ram lamont or from Mozart, opera, don giovanni sunbathe, feathered, shoe fallen into with jordan rogers. The music was played by the berlin philharmonic conducted by Daniel pangborn, and that was the was pitfall of some son by them was faithless rogue ever born, and that's what we should always remember
We only know part of the story, let certain endless look at night, the books, I give you, the bible and the complete works of shakespeare. Another book along with you. What's it going to be? Well it sin I wish it could be. A fine I wish it could be a fantasy book. I wish it could be the collected stories, like to answer. You gets take another book along with you. What's it going to be well it SAM. I wish it could be a fantasy book. I wish it could be the collected stories of Alice Monroe, who am a first aid in Canada forty years ago, and she just as remained my favorite writer if you're gonna make it a real book because or click stories, with the huge this too silly It alice mineral short story, books and one called lying under the apple tree, which is just a few years old, and she was the first person the acute read again in the depths of greece book anders over something you and I would use it
a self how to write short stories, and what about your luxury, or my lucky, that was easy- is a big kiddies outcome bill of cheap felt, it pains, and also these wonderful, big fat and pencils, religious, no kind of chubby things, lots and lots of paper and the and also glitter enjoy, because I didn't make any than useful. But I would like to make sound with glitter in different colours and adjust to play about like a kid with both words and stuff and to have to get have become. The kind of child was whenever I go into that the bedroom of my own utopian of his four ok, that's great big. Our commitment is yours and which of these discs would be the one that you would say to get have become, the kind of child was whenever I go into that the bedroom of my own, yet till one of his food. Ok, that great big art kit than is yours and which of these discs would be.
when that you would save costs, I think it would have to be green group that I she saw that make a man it's yours little had. Thank you very much for letting us here. Your desert island stank you so much kirsty you ve been
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.