Liz Lochhead, b. 1947

"An Abortion"

1. What is the topic of this painful poem? What is its immediate subject? Does this seem an unsual topic for poetry?

2. What effect is created by giving this poem the title of "An Abortion," rather than, say, "The Cow's Miscarriage" or "Death at Birth"?

3. What are some aspects of the poem's stanza form and sequence? In the absence of rhyme and identical line lengths, what makes this a poem?

4. What are some of the poem's more graphic lines or descriptions?

5. What effect is created by the portrayal of events through the narrator's perspective? What seems her relationship to the cow? To the men who cut the placenta and help the cow to rise?

6. What is emphasized about the calf's death? What seems the intention of the final stanza, in which the cow accompanies the men in blue "as if they were policemen, /and she knew exactly what she were guilty of."

7. What do you think is the point of this poem? Does it resemble other poems/literary works we have read? How, for example, is Lochhead's perspective different from that of W. H. Henley in "In Hospital"?

"Lighthouse Wall"

1. Why is the poem titled "Lighthouse Wall"? What do we learn about the speaker's past and his condition in stanza one?

2. What do you make of the allusions to the Atlantic, North, Baltic and other seas?

3. In stanzas 2-4, what do we learn about the speaker's state of mind? What imagery and details are used to convey his condition?

4. In the absence of formal rhyme, what forms of verbal patterning organize the poem? Do you think these are effective for presenting its subject?

5. What is significant about the sequence of stanzas?

6. What fantasy does the speaker evoke in stanza 5? Why kind of closure does this provide for the poem?

7. How would you describe the poem's tone?

8. What are some advantages and effects of the fact that this poem is a dramatic monologue? What reaction do you think the poem is intended to evoke?

The Adoption Papers, Chapter 10, "The Meeting Dream" and the epilogue

1. What situation is described? Which speakers speak which portions of the poem? What is the effect of presenting three points of view?

2. How does the speaker portray their emotions? Which lines seem especially significant?

3. What are some formal aspects of the poem? What is the sequence of the stanzas?

4. What is meant in the last stanza, "One dream cuts another open like a gutted fish/ nothing is what it was. . . . "

5. What do we learn about the contrasting emotions of these women in the epilogue? Why do you think the daughter speaks last?

6. What seems the tone of the conclusion? What seems the significance of this sequence?

7. Can you drawn any conclusions about the themes and intentions of Jacquie Kay's poetry? Can you see parallels/contrasts between her poems and those of Liz Lochhead?

If you are done early, construct questions for Lockhead's "Revelation" and/or another section of Adoption Papers.