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The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2015

Published 21 December 2015

The Queen has approved the award of Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2015 to Liz Lochhead.

Background and Biography

The Poetry Medal Committee met at Windsor in late November and was unanimous in recommending the British poet Liz Lochhead as this year's recipient of the award, on the basis of her body of work.

Born in Motherwell in 1947, Liz was raised in the mining village of Newarthill. She attended Glasgow School of Art but also produced poetry and other writings, becoming a professional writer only after teaching and lecturing in Fine Arts for eight years. Her first collection of poems was Memo for Spring (1972). Her most recently published work is A Choosing (2011), and a further collection is in preparation. In addition to poetry, Liz has written a number of plays, several of which have been performed on BBC Radio 4.

After serving as Poet Laureate for Glasgow from 2005 (appointed by the Lord Provost), in 2011 Liz Lochhead was named as the second Scots Makar (the National Poet for Scotland – a position created by the Scottish Executive in 2004); she will continue in this role until 2016. Liz is a vocal supporter of Scotland and its dialects: in October 2014 she spoke on ‘The Word is Scots’, at The Queen’s Gallery, Holyroodhouse, during the Royal Collection’s exhibition Poetry for the Palace: Poets Laureate from Dryden to Duffy.

The Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, said: ‘Liz Lochhead has made a unique contribution to Scottish poetry. Since the early 1970s she has influenced an entire generation of other writers, bringing a new kind of poetry performance to the stage, as well as a different set of rhythms to the page. From the start, she spoke in her own feisty, female voice, mixing old Scots with new Scots – as aware of Burns as of Morgan – and she did this with a galvanizing spirit and vitality that helped to change the landscape of British poetry’.

History of the Gold Medal for Poetry

The Gold Medal for Poetry was instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. Recommendations for the award of the Medal are made by a committee of eminent men and women of letters, selected by the current Poet Laureate (Carol Ann Duffy).

The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award. The poems will have been published. The poet will be from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm. The obverse of the medal bears the crowned effigy of The Queen. The idea of the reverse, which was designed by the late Edmund Dulac, is ‘Truth is emerging from her well and holding in her right hand the divine flame of inspiration – Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty’.