Quick & Quirky Questions with Liz Niven

Liz Niven is an award-winning Scottish poet. Her collections include: Stravaigin, Burning Whins, The Shard Box (all published by Luath Press, Edinburgh). Her public art collaborations include text in stone and wood, and she has participated in poetry Festivals in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Formerly a teacher and Cultural Coordinator, Liz has facilitated poetry sessions to the Scottish Poetry Library, the Scottish Book Trust and the London Poetry Society, as well as to galleries and museums.

She has written a wide range of Scots education resources and is the author of Scots Dossier for European Bureau of Minority Languages. She has edited a wide range of literature including three years of New Writing Scotland (published by ASLS). Awards include the McCash Poetry Prize, the Saltire/TESS, and she is an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies and convener of Scottish PEN’s Writers-in-exile committee.

Writing residencies across Scottish schools and arts bodies includes Poet on a Plane, based in Inverness Airport and the focus of a Channel 4 documentary. Most of her working life has been focused on encouraging creative writing in Scots and in English.


Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:

  1. I recognise my good fortune to have a large family, husband, children, grandchildren, sisters and brothers etc. 
  2. I’m pleased to have written and edited poetry over the years, but not pleased with my slower output in recent years.
  3. I’m proud to be Scottish, lucky to be born here and wish this country strength and wellbeing in its future.
  4. I can’t get my head to accept this ageing thing. Body knows it’s almost 70, brain doesn’t . . .

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?  

Probably around 50, when I was still quite professionally productive and before I started to feel the effects of ageing, including gradual hearing deterioration.

Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60? 

Angela Merkel is pretty admirable.

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you? 

My laptop with photographs, poems, contacts, domestic and professional information.

What’s your favourite creative pastime? 

Currently, it’s knitting!

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected. 

I’m increasingly quite shy of public events.


Liz is part of the Autumn Voices Steering Group.

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