Document 1009

Review of "The Colour of Black & White poems 1984-2003" (Liz Lochhead)

Author(s): Liz Niven

Copyright holder(s): Liz Niven


"The Colour of Black & White poems 1984-2003" by Liz Lochhead Pub. Birlinn £8.99 pp131

"The Colour of Black & White" is Liz Lochhead’s furst collection o poetrie in ower ten year. Yin o wir maist favourite dramatists, it’s a lang-awaitit delicht tae be able tae hiv sic a substantial nummer o new poems as weel as ithers kent fae afore.

As ayeweys, human relationships are fundamental tae the fabric o the poems which rynge fae luive an daith an childhood throu tae adult preoccupations sic as sex an mairriage. Again thir’s the mix o autobiographical an fictional, poems aboot her hame toon o Lanarkshire as weel as a wee sample o the poet’s fascination wi the Frankenstein theme in The Ballad o Mary Shelley’s Creature.

Tae pit the work o printmaker Willie Rodger’s intae the buik is a fine norrie, lendin as it does an addit attraction o visual elements tae counter, an complement, the wirds. It’s appropriate as weel tae hae anither artist in the focus here as Liz Lochhead frequentlie writes, refers tae, dedicates her work tae a wheen ither artists – poets as weel as visual artists.

Edwin Morgan features baith throu a visit tae his hame as weel as in a seventhieth birthday dedication which gey finely acknowledges Lochhead’s admiration for Morgan as a person an fir his work.It is fittin that he has written the introduction tae the buik.

A dedication to Lyn Hansen, references to much admired artist/scupl?or George Wylie, and direct conversations to poet-freens, Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay, gie us an impression o a poet givin generouslie o her affections tae her freens an fellow makers. The ‘Year 2K email epistle to Carol Ann Duffy, Sister-poet & Friend of my Youth’ is a lovely example o the relaxt, informal tone o some o the work. The gentle nod tae Burns in ‘If forward though we canna see/We guess and fear’ serves tae remind us o the continuitie throu the centuries fae afore Burns tae the present day, o hou wir Scots poets are of the people, an pairt o the people, no bein aff in an ivorie touer, inaccessible tae the general reader.

Monie o the poems are strang narratives an talk us throu the childhood an adolescent experiences o a fifties an sixties ethos. ‘Kidspoem/Bairnsang’ is weel kent and luived awreadie – maistlie by teachers in Scotlan – as a succinct appraisal o the wey wir weans are generallie strippt o much o the Scots vocabularie learnt in thir hame environment when they gan tae the scuil.

A wean disnae pu oan ‘pixies an pawkies’ onie mair, bit nou, she ‘pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens’. She disnae birl her scarf bit nou twirls it, an instead o the freenlie ‘kid-oan skelp oan the bum’ she gets a ‘pretend slap on the bottom’. This poet can mak her ain case fir native leids wi’oot needin a soap boax.

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APA Style:

Review of "The Colour of Black & White poems 1984-2003" (Liz Lochhead). 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Review of "The Colour of Black & White poems 1984-2003" (Liz Lochhead)," accessed 21 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1009

Review of "The Colour of Black & White poems 1984-2003" (Liz Lochhead)


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 504

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)

Text publication details

Publisher Lallans Magazine
Part of larger text
Contained in Lallans Magazine

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 19
Forenames Liz
Surname Niven
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dumfries
Region of residence E & Mid Dumfries
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Gardener
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Seamstress
Mother's place of birth Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Glasgow
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes With French people / films
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home