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Jackie Kay

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Education  University of Stirling
Role  Poet

Name  Jackie Kay
Known for  Poet and novelist
Libretti  Twice Through the Heart
Jackie Kay Nick Cave Jackie Kay and Alan Warner set for Dundee
Born  9 November 1961 (age 54) (1961-11-09) Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupation  Professor of creative writing at Newcastle University
Awards  Guardian Fiction Prize, Lambda Literary Award for Transgender
Nominations  International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry
Books  Trumpet, Adoption Papers, Wish I Was Here, Reality - Reality, Why don't you stop talking
Similar People  Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Grace Nichols, Adrian Henri, Michel Faber

Alma mater  University of Stirling

Jackie Kay reads six poems

Jackie Kay MBE FRSE (born 9 November 1961) is a Scottish poet and novelist. She is the third modern Makar, the Scottish poet laureate.


Jackie Kay httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

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Jackie Kay A life in writing Jackie Kay Books The Guardian

Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. She was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple, Helen and John Kay, and grew up in Bishopbriggs, a suburb of Glasgow, in a 1950s-built housing estate in a small Wimpey house, which her adoptive parents had bought new in 1957. They adopted Jackie in 1961 having already adopted her brother, Maxwell, about two years earlier. Jackie and Maxwell also have siblings who were brought up by their biological parents.

Jackie Kay Jackie Kay wins Scottish Book of the Year For Books39 Sake

Her adoptive father worked for the Communist Party full-time and stood for Member of Parliament, and her adoptive mother was the Scottish secretary of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. In August 2007, Jackie Kay was the subject of the fourth episode of the BBC Radio 4 series The House I Grew Up In, in which she talked about her childhood.

Initially harbouring ambitions to be an actress, she decided to concentrate on writing after Alasdair Gray, a Scottish artist and writer, read her poetry and told her that writing was what she should be doing. She studied English at the University of Stirling and her first book of poetry, the partially autobiographical The Adoption Papers, was published in 1991 and won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Award. This is a multiply voiced collection of poetry that deals with identity, race, nationality, gender, and sexuality from the perspectives of three women: an adopted biracial child, her adoptive mother, and her biological mother. Her other awards include the 1994 Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers, and the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet, inspired by the life of American jazz musician Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Tipton, who lived as a man for the last fifty years of his life.

Kay writes extensively for stage (in 1988 her play Twice Over was the first by a Black writer to be produced by Gay Sweatshop Theatre Group), screen and for children. Her drama The Lamplighter is an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2007 and published in poem form in 2008.

In 2010 she published Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her biological parents, who had met each other when her father was a student at Aberdeen University and her mother was a nurse.

Kay is openly lesbian. She had a 15-year relationship with poet Carol Ann Duffy.

Jackie Kay was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University. Kay lives in Manchester. She took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, with a piece based on a book of the King James Bible. In October 2014, it was announced that she had been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford, and that she would be the university's "Writer in Residence" from 1 January 2015.

In March 2016, it was announced that Kay would be taking up the position of Scots Makar (national poet of Scotland), succeeding Liz Lochhead, whose tenure ended in January 2016.

Awards and honours

  • 2016 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • 2011 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award, Red Dust Road
  • 2011 PEN/Ackerley Prize (shortlist), Red Dust Road
  • 2011 Costa Book Awards (shortlist), Fiere
  • 2011 Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), Fiere
  • 2009 Scottish Book of the Year (shortlist), The Lamplighter
  • 2007 British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year
  • 2003 Cholmondeley Award
  • 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (shortlist), Trumpet
  • 1998 Guardian Fiction Prize, Trumpet
  • 1994 Somerset Maugham Award, Other Lovers
  • 1992 Scottish First Book of the Year, The Adoption Papers
  • 1991 Eric Gregory Award
  • Selected works

  • The Adoption Papers, Bloodaxe Books, 1991, ISBN 9781852241568 (poetry)
  • Other Lovers, Bloodaxe Books, 1993, ISBN 9781852242534 (poetry)
  • Off Colour, Bloodaxe Books, 1998, ISBN 9781852244200 (poetry)
  • Trumpet (fiction – 1998); Random House Digital, Inc., 2011, ISBN 9780307560810
  • The Frog who dreamed she was an Opera Singer, Bloomsbury Children's Books, 1998, ISBN 9780747538660
  • Two's Company, Puffin Books, 1994, ISBN 9780140369526
  • Why Don't You Stop Talking (fiction – 2002); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206729
  • Strawgirl, Macmillan Children's, 2002, ISBN 9780330480635
  • Life Mask, Bloodaxe Books, 2005, ISBN 9781852246914 (poetry)
  • Wish I Was Here (fiction – 2006); Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447206736
  • Darling: New & Selected Poems, Bloodaxe Books, 2007, ISBN 9781852247775 (poetry)
  • The Lamplighter, Bloodaxe Books, 2008, ISBN 9781852248048 (poetry/radio play)
  • Red Cherry Red, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2007, ISBN 9780747589792
  • Maw Broon Monologues (2009) (shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)
  • Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey. Atlas and Company. 2011. ISBN 9781935633358.  (memoir)
  • Fiere, Pan Macmillan, 2011, ISBN 9781447206576 (poetry)
  • Reality, Reality, Pan Macmillan, 2012, ISBN 9781447204404
  • The Empathetic Store, Mariscat Press, 2015, ISBN 9780946588794 (poetry)
  • Some other poetry used in GCSE Edexcel Syllabus

  • Brendon Gallacher
  • Lucozade
  • Yellow
  • References

    Jackie Kay Wikipedia