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Happier Days

Rosalind Mitchison

4 April 1991
Scottish Voices 1745-1960 
by T.C. Smout and Sydney Wood.
Collins, 334 pp., £16.95, August 1990, 0 00 215190 1
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... and steeped their infant souls in blessed forgetfulness.’ The sympathy may be accepted, but in no way can the words be taken as a ‘voice’ from the past, for they can never have been spoken. LizLochhead on lodging with relatives has the rhythms of spoken speech. It is not the village Hampdens of Scottish life that we need from the more distant past but the township LizLochheads. It is no ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford

8 February 1996
The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... were friends, Watson enables us to look back on traditions of linguistic pluralism in Scottish writing that are many centuries old. From the generation of James Macpherson to that of Tom Leonard and LizLochhead, these poets are increasingly aware of coming from a heteroglot culture, whose words could be both familiar and foreign. This awareness is heightened today, when only some sixty thousand ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison

6 September 1984
Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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Midsummer 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... herself, at the onset of middle age, to one of those chalk giants on the Downs, children climbing over her and grass growing on her face. But for its quietism, this is the sort of image to appeal to LizLochhead. She is drawn to larger-than-life mythic figures, giants and ogres, Frankenstein and Rapunzstiltskin. And, like Angela Carter in The Bloody Chamber, she seeks to revise ‘male’ fairy ...
6 July 1995
Selected Poems 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Penguin, 151 pp., £5.99, August 1994, 0 14 058735 7
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... The awkward, fumbling formality of ‘Things get away from one,’ spoken by a depressed middle-aged woman, is quietly accurate, suggesting hidden depths of embarrassment, determination and snobbery. LizLochhead, whose work Duffy’s resembles in more ways than one, and who is arguably more adept at representing the complex implications and implicatures in people’s speech, achieves a similar ...

Dialect does it

Blake Morrison

5 December 1985
No Mate for the Magpie 
by Frances Molloy.
Virago, 170 pp., £7.95, April 1985, 0 86068 594 2
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The Mysteries 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 229 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 9780571137893
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Ukulele Music 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, 103 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 40986 0
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Hard Lines 2 
edited by Ian Dury, Pete Townshend, Alan Bleasdale and Fanny Dubes.
Faber, 95 pp., £2.50, June 1985, 0 571 13542 0
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No Holds Barred: The Raving Beauties choose new poems by women 
edited by Anna Carteret, Fanny Viner and Sue Jones-Davies.
Women’s Press, 130 pp., £2.95, June 1985, 0 7043 3963 3
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Katerina Brac 
by Christopher Reid.
Faber, 47 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 571 13614 1
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Skevington’s Daughter 
by Oliver Reynolds.
Faber, 88 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 571 13697 4
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Rhondda Tenpenn’orth 
by Oliver Reynolds.
10 pence
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Trio 4 
by Andrew Elliott, Leon McAuley and Ciaran O’Driscoll.
Blackstaff, 69 pp., £3.95, May 1985, 0 85640 333 4
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Mama Dot 
by Fred D’Aguiar.
Chatto, 48 pp., £3.95, August 1985, 0 7011 2957 3
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The Dread Affair: Collected Poems 
by Benjamin Zephaniah.
Arena, 112 pp., £2.95, August 1985, 9780099392507
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Long Road to Nowhere 
by Amryl Johnson.
Virago, 64 pp., £2.95, July 1985, 0 86068 687 6
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Mangoes and Bullets 
by John Agard.
Pluto, 64 pp., £3.50, August 1985, 0 7453 0028 6
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Ragtime in Unfamiliar Bars 
by Ron Butlin.
Secker, 51 pp., £3.95, June 1985, 0 436 07810 4
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True Confessions and New Clichés 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 135 pp., £3.95, July 1985, 0 904919 90 0
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Works in the Inglis Tongue 
by Peter Davidson.
Three Tygers Press, 17 pp., £2.50, June 1985
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Wild Places: Poems in Three Leids 
by William Neill.
Luath, 200 pp., £5, September 1985, 0 946487 11 1
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... takes a pass from Bruce Rioch and finds himself with only the keeper to beat ‘and the World Cup as good as on the mantelpiece’: but this is poetry and Butlin is destined to fluff the chance.) LizLochhead is a gutsier talent, but the songs, raps and satires in True Confessions, a selection of her stage revues, hit predictable targets and predictable rhymes. Peter Davidson is something else ...

Sperm’s-Eye View

Robert Crawford

23 February 1995
Dock Leaves 
by Hugo Williams.
Faber, 67 pp., £6.99, June 1994, 0 571 17175 3
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Spring Forest 
by Geoffrey Lehmann.
Faber, 171 pp., £6.99, September 1994, 0 571 17246 6
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Everything is Strange 
by Frank Kuppner.
Carcanet, 78 pp., £8.95, July 1994, 1 85754 071 9
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The Queen of Sheba 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £6.95, April 1994, 1 85224 284 1
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... she comes, a culture whose ‘whae do you think y’ur?’ she answers with a defiant revoicing of the old put-down, ‘THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.’ The title poem and several others have learned from LizLochhead how to present a public female Scottish voice that rounds on gender-packaging. Poems mix Scots and English easily, unaffectedly, and the volume contains poetry entirely in Scots. Just as language is ...

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