Scotland

Jackie Kay announced as new Scots Makar

Jackie Kay Image copyright PA

Poet and novelist Jackie Kay has been announced as the third Scots Makar.

She takes over from Liz Lochhead, whose tenure as national poet came to an end in January.

Born in Edinburgh and brought up in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, Ms Kay was made an MBE in 2006. She now lives in Manchester.

The Scots Makar position was established in 2004 by the Scottish Parliament with Edwin Morgan the first poet to receive the honour.

The role will see Ms Kay, who is chancellor of Salford University, create new work and promote poetry throughout the country and encourage young people to engage with the art form.

'Delighted and honoured'

She said: "I'm absolutely delighted and honoured to have been chosen as Scotland's new makar and to follow in the footsteps of such really inspiring and wonderful poets as Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead.

"I hope that I can do my country proud and do them proud. It's a really wonderful day for me, my family and everyone that loves me. It feels a little like a fairytale for me.

"I was born in Edinburgh, adopted, and my mum said to me the other day 'who would have thought that that wee baby they brought home in a basket would end up being the makar'."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Liz Lochhead was the last Scots makar

She added: "Poetry has an extraordinary role to make a difference in the world. In these times we live in, in troubled times, poetry can lend a hand and be a player and I look forward to looking at all the different ways we can use poetry to develop Scotland's conversation, not just with itself but with the rest of the world.

"It seems to me to also be a very, very exciting time to be in Scotland at the moment."

The award-winning author was selected from a shortlist prepared by a panel of literary experts, convened by Dr Robyn Marsack, the director of the Scottish Poetry Library.

The final selection was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former first ministers Alex Salmond, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Henry McLeish.

'Gallus humour'

The first minister made the announcement at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh where Ms Kay read one of her poems, "Between the Dee and the Don".

Ms Sturgeon said: "Poetry is part of Scotland's culture and history, it celebrates our language and can evoke strong emotions and memories in all of us.

"The role of the makar is to celebrate our poetic past, promote the poetry of today and produce new pieces of work that relate to significant events in our nation.

"Jackie Kay's poems sometimes deal with challenging subjects, taken from her own life experiences, and she has a particular Scottish brand of gallus humour.

"She is hugely respected, is known for her poignant and honest words, and is a role model for many, and I am delighted to name her as the new national poet for Scotland."

Ms Kay, who was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, will remain in the role of makar for five years.

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