In the introduction to A Choosing: The Selected Poems of Liz Lochhead, there's a lovely anecdote about the poet being asked by a boy at a school what a poem 'really' meant and in the end having to just say it was about what it was about. Liz Lochhead is not a poet who writes in code. She actually wants people to enjoy her poems, to enjoy reading them and to enjoy hearing them. And there are in A Choosing some - many - poems that are wonderful to just hear, full of the urgency of performance, very immediate. 'Everybody's Mother', 'Inventory' and 'Poem for my Sister' (and many others) ask to be read aloud, performed aloud, shared aloud. Which isn't to say these are poems only for a momentary performance; there are layers of thought and feeling, strikingly apt images, acute observation of both our internal and external selves.
Liz Lochhead is very good at finding a chance moment to open up a subject or idea. For example, 'Kidspoem/Bairnsang' skewers the tussle acted out in schools and the professional world between the everyday use of language and 'proper' English. It is a funny, moving, sweet poem but it absolutely nails the subject. This is how to do politics. 'The Choosing', similarly, charms us with the relish of a life observed in retrospect, but completely opens out the question of how much we drive our own lives or are driven by them. This is how to do sociology. Or 'A Night In', with its disarming synopsis of a couple's promised evening (`rat-trap cheddar on the veggie bake'), closing with the image of the perfection of the moon shining its light on the simple importance of a relationship. This is how to do love.
There's not a poem in this selection that doesn't ring right. Not a poem you wouldn't want to share or have cause to recommend or wished you could commit to memory. Very funny, moving, powerful, wonderful stuff.
i got this as a gift and am going to buy it for myself as I wanted to read it all after having a quick look through. I bought it for my aunt in Australia and loved it as well. It is really accessible and readable and conjours up all my memories of Glasgow.
a 40 year selection of a strong poet I was introduced to in her poem on the nature of Scots and Scotland heard on a Today programme discussing independence. Her work is funny and touching for anglophones who persist with her Scots language