Acclaimed Scottish poet and playwright Liz Lochhead has been named Scotland's new Makar – the old Scots term for a poet - succeeding the late Edwin Morgan.
Lochhead, who has enjoyed a successful career spanning over 40 years, will now undertake her first official engagement in the role this Friday, January 21, opening the new Burns Museum in Alloway.
The poet, who was selected from a shortlist recommended by a committee of representatives from Scotland's literature community, described being awarded the coveted role as an "enormous honour", and said she was “as delighted as I am surprised”.
"I accept it on behalf of poetry itself, which is, and always has been, the core of our culture, and in grateful recognition of the truth that poetry - the reading of it, the writing of it, the saying it out loud, the learning of it off by heart - all of this matters deeply to ordinary Scottish people everywhere," the poet said.
First Minister Alex Salmond, who made the announcement at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, said: "In creating the post of national poet, the communities of Scotland demonstrated the importance it places on the many aspects of culture which lie at the heart of our identity.
"As an author, translator, playwright, stage performer, broadcaster and grande dame of Scottish theatre, Ms Lochhead embodies everything a nation would want from its national poet.”
Lochhead was a close friend of the former Makar, Edwin Morgan, who held the post since it was created in 2004 until his death from cancer aged 90 in 2010.
Born on Boxing Day in 1947, in Newarthill near Motherwell in North Lanarkshire, she was a hard worker with high ambitions. After Liz's schooling, she studied at the Glasgow School of Art and taught art at schools in Glasgow and Bristol.
Liz was a Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University from 1986 to 1987, and a Writer in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1988.
Her first collection of poems, entitled Memo for Spring, was published in 1972 and won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award.
As well as being a performance poet, Liz is an acclaimed playwright, with works including Blood and Ice (1982), Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (1989), Dracula (1989), Cuba (1997), and Perfect Days (1998).
The 63-year-old, who currently lives in Glasgow, is a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Glasgow Institute of Art, Glasgow Institute of Architects and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. She is also the holder of honorary doctorates from 10 Scottish universities.
Liz will officially open the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway on January 21, her first official engagement as the Scotland’s new Makar.
The director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Nat Edwards said: "Liz Lochhead’s appointment as Scotland’s Makar is wonderful news. We are delighted to be welcoming Liz to Alloway to formally open the new £21m Robert Burns Birthplace Museum this Friday. The museum opening and her appointment together are clear signals of the fantastic energy of Scottish poetry today."
- Off the Page: Liz Lochhead, part 1
- Off the Page: Liz Lochhead, part 2
- Off the Page: Liz Lochhead, part 3
- Off the Page: Liz Lochhead, part 4
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