A wonderful welcome is guaranteed for poet Liz

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Weekend of Wonderful Women - October 26-28

Liz Lochhead brings her show ‘Somethings Old, Somethings New’ to Hebden Bridge looking back on a rich career that took her from a Lanarkshire council house to be Scotland’s National Poet (2011-16), writes Paul Clarke.

Her career as a performance poet started in 1972, and she will be performing some of her extensive back catalogue at Hope Baptist Church on October 27 as part of the Weekend of Wonderful Women organised by Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

“It’s a very personal show for me so it ranges from poems to songs, and there’s characters in there and some humour, monologues and rhymes, so it is things that people will recognise,” says Liz who is joined by Edinburgh-based sax player Steve Kettley who adds musical flourishes to her spoken words.

“It’s more than just a poetry reading, and there’s a lot of nostalgia in the show, but people really relate to it. I actually expected that people over 50 would relate to it the most, but young people seem to like it a lot too.”

Liz is based in Glasgow, but she is very familiar with Hebden Bridge.

“It’s a place I know very well because I have been there a lot over the last 40 years teaching at the Lumb Bank Arvon Centre. Hebden Bridge is a town I love for its openness, it has an alternative feel, and I love the mix of industrial and rural landscapes, which reminds me of where I grew up in Lanarkshire. I’ve been a poet since I was 18, and I’m now 70, and I wonder if I will do another poem, but they keep turning up,” she says.

“I actually got the Queen’s Medal for Poetry in 2015, and that didn’t seem real, but I was proud of it. A lot of people would say that ‘she doesn’t deserve it as she isn’t posh’, but it was a thrilling day getting dressed up when I went to Buckingham Palace.”

Lifelong feminist Liz was one of the very first female poets to challenge the often stuffy middle class, male poetry establishment.

She is a fan of the new generation of female poets, including Hollie McNish and local poet Clare Shaw who launched her new collection Flood at this year’s Arts Festival.

“Hollie is a great friend of mine who I’ve performed with, and I met Clare with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and the current Scottish National Poet Jackie Kay, and Clare’s work is really powerful.

“I was one of the first female poets to get up onstage and I’m delighted there are so many more women coming through.”

Ticketsfrom Hebden Bridge Town hall or hebdenbridgeartsfestival.co.uk