Elizabeth Anne Lochhead was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire on 26 December 1947. She wrote her first poem, ‘The Visit’, after she entered the Glasgow School of Art in 1965, and attended an informal creative writing group there run by Stephen Mulrine. After graduating from GSA in 1970, she went a few times to the extra-mural writers’ workshop run by Philip Hobsbaum, who had a gift for identifying and encouraging talent. In 1971 she won a Radio Scotland poetry competition, in 1972 she read with Norman MacCaig at a poetry festival in Edinburgh, and her first collection, Memo for Spring, was published in 1972 by Gordon Wright. She met Alasdair Gray, Jim Kelman and Tom Leonard in this period, and later in the decade Tom McGrath and Alan Spence; in this group of talented young Scottish writers, she stands out as a rare female presence and this has been enabling and inspiring for the generation that followed.
The 1980s was an immensely productive decade in both work for the theatre and poetry; Lochhead also married the architect Tom Logan in 1986, and they made their home in Glasgow. Notable successes included her adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe for the Lyceum (1986) and Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, performed by Communicado (1987).
Lochhead’s sixth collection, The Colour of Black and White – poems 1984-2003, includes ‘Kidspoem/Bairnsang’, which has become one of her signature poems and a touchstone for the decade; she was appointed Scots Makar (National Poet for Scotland) in 2011 for a five year tenure.
[image Liz at the RNIB transcription centre in Partick]