Kay and society

Kay is not afraid to tackle bigger themes such as adoption, poverty, racism and death in her poetry.

My Grandmother’s Houses

An elderly woman is forced to move out of her home, when she is ‘rehoused’ by the council. Kay explores the vulnerability brought about by such circumstances, and the treatment of the elderly in our society.

The grandmother still insists on cleaning the houses of the rich despite her situation. This shows her stoicism and pride in her work continuing despite the issue of class division and the patronising tone of her employer.

Whilst Leila Sleeps

The poem gives us an insight into the fear and worry of a woman, presumably an asylum seeker, who faces deportation. Kay does not go into the details of the woman's situation and where she is from. By focusing on her relationship with her daughter, and on the immediate emotion of her situation, Kay is able to tell a universal story that we can all empathise with.

Keeping Orchids

Kay gives an honest depiction of adoption and the challenges it brings. At no point does she sentimentalise; instead she gives us a no frills account of the encounter with her mother, using the orchids to portray different aspects of her situation and her emotions.

Old Tongue

Kay addresses the fact that moving country and leaving your language behind can partly rob you of who you are and how you express yourself.


‘Lucozade’ explores the prospect of a dying relative from a young person’s point of view. It looks at how they might handle this situation.

The intuitive understanding between mother and child is developed here, as the daughter aids in the mother’s apparent recovery.

Gap Year

Here Kay allows young people to see what things might be like for the parent when the child leaves home. It shows that parents worry and miss their children just as children might feel homesick themselves.

The poem suggests that a strong bond between parent and child enables independence and leads to understanding and growth.

In all of the poems in this group, Kay tells us that human relationships are not always easy, nor are they always positive. They can cause resentment, frustration, conflict, anxiety; but, ultimately, they should be embraced with openness, as they remind us what it is to be alive and what it is to love and be loved.