Nia Clark

Liz Lochhead’s Writing on Canada and America in Dreaming Frankenstein & Collected Poems 1967–1984 (1984)

Liz Lochhead (b. 1947) studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1965–1970 before publishing her first poetry collection, Memo for Spring, in 1972. Since then, she has published seven major poetry collections and several plays, ranging from original works to children’s drama and adaptations.

In 1978, Lochhead was awarded the first Scottish/Canadian Writers Exchange Fellowship, enabling her to give up teaching art to become a full-time writer. The influence of her time spent travelling in Canada and America is evident in her first anthology, Dreaming Frankenstein & Collected Poems 1967–1984. In the collection, Lochhead builds on earlier poems published in Islands (1972) in her exploration of the theme of the poet as an outsider and an observer.

In the anthology, Lochhead invokes fellow poet Edwin Morgan’s The New Divan (1977), which takes its cue from the fourteenth-century Divan of Hafiz of Shiraz, in her poem titled ‘Hafiz on Danforth Avenue’. As a female poet writing about love, and through Morgan’s exploration of homosexuality and heterosexuality, both Lochhead and Morgan subvert courtly love conventions to give a voice to those who have been marginalised. Away from home, Lochhead chooses to reflect and draw upon the work of another Scottish poet. A study of ‘Hafiz on Danforth Avenue’ provides an opportunity to explore the poetic and personal relationship between Lochhead and Morgan. This paper will discuss a selection of poems from Dreaming Frankenstein in which Lochhead explores new relationships and unfamiliar landscapes, namely ‘Ontario, October Going West’, ‘Near Qu’Appelle’, and ‘Hafiz On Danforth Avenue’.

Nia Clark, University of Glasgow, Scotland