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Jackie Kay

By 28/09/2014December 11th, 2018No Comments

Tuesday 30th September 2014; 7pm to 8.30pm,
CCA (Club Room), Glasgow.

In Process Masterclass, with Jackie Kay


Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1961) to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father. She was adopted by a white couple at birth and was brought up in Glasgow, studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before attending Stirling University (where she read English). The experience of being adopted by, and growing up within, a white family inspired her first collection of poetry – The Adoption Papers (1991). Those poems deal with an adopted child’s search for a cultural identity, and are told through three different voices: an adoptive mother, a birth mother, and a daughter.

The collection won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award, and a commendation by the Forward Poetry Prize judges in 1992. The poems in Other Lovers (1993) explore the role and power of language, inspired and influenced by the history of Afro-Caribbean people – the story of a search for identity grounded in the experience of slavery. The collection includes a sequence of poems about the blues-singer Bessie Smith. Off Colour (1998) explores themes of sickness, health, and disease, through personal experience and metaphor. Jackie’s poems have appeared in many anthologies, and she has written widely for stage and television.

Her first novel, Trumpet (1998), was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Inspired by the life of musician Billy Tipton, the novel tells the story of Scottish jazz trumpeter Joss Moody (whose death revealed that he was, in fact, a woman). Jackie develops the narrative through the voices of Moody’s wife, his adopted son, and a journalist from a tabloid newspaper. Her books – Why Don’t You Stop Talking (2002), Wish I Was Here (2006), and Reality, Reality (2012) – are collections of short stories; and Jackie has also published a children’s novel, Strawgirl (2002). Her collection of children’s poetry, Red, Cherry Red (2007), won the 2008 CLPE Poetry Award.

Jackie’s novella, Sonata, was published in 2006; her book of poems, Darling: New and Selected Poems, in 2007; and her dramatised poem, The Lamplighter, in 2008. The Lamplighter explores the Atlantic slave trade, and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2007. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award. Her Maw Broon Monologues, performed at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow (and combining rhythmic verse and music), were shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Jackie’s latest books are Red Dust Road (2010) – a memoir about meeting her Nigerian birth father, which won the 2011 Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 2011 PEN/Ackerley Prize – and Fiere (2011) – a new collection of poetry, shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Poetry Award and the 2011 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award.

Jackie lives in Manchester, and is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. In 2006, she was awarded an MBE for services to literature.

Tickets: £6 (£3 for concessions) at the door. Free to SWC members.

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