Trouble is not my middle name
Trouble is not my middle name. It is not what I am. I was not born for this. Trouble is not a place though I am in it deeper than the deepest wood and I’d get out of it (who wouldn’t?) if I could. Hope is what I do not have in hell – not without good help, now. Could you listen, listen hard and well to what I cannot say except by what I do? And when you say I do it for badness this much is true: I do it for badness done to me before any badness that I do to you. Hard to unfankle this. But you can help me. Loosen all these knots and really listen. I cannot plainly tell you this, but, if you care, then — beyond all harm and hurt – real hope is there.
Appointed Scots Makar – the National Poet for Scotland – from 2011-16, Liz Lochhead is both transgressive and popular; as Anne Varty wrote, ‘her work is that of one woman speaking to many, and one person speaking for many’.
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About this poem
The first commission for Scotland's National Poet, Liz Lochhead, in 2012 came from the campaign to recruit members for the Children’s Panels, which are such a distinctive part of the Scottish approach to dealing with children and young people who are in trouble or at risk. Children’s Panels are independent lay tribunals and a crucial part of the Children’s Hearings system, a relatively informal way of addressing all kinds of situations where a child or young person is in need of care and protection or if he/she has committed an offence. The campaign was launched on 9 January, and Liz rose to the occasion with this deeply sympathetic and touching poem from the child’s perspective.