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The Edusites Brief Guide to the Poems of Jackie Kay

Richard Gent | Thursday April 22, 2021

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The works: these poems are taken from two anthologies: The second half of “The Adoption Papers’, entitled ‘Severe Gale 8’ (1991) and “Other Lovers” (1993). ‘From Stranraer South’ has been reserved our essay question.

All you need to know: Encyclopedia.com “The Adoption Papers”: gives a detailed and comprehensive account of her life and its cultural context up to 1991. There is plenty more, including two very helpful reviews from ‘The Guardian’ readily available online. See also ’The National’: ‘Jackie Kay’: 10 things that changed my life.’

What you really need to know. Jackie Kay CBE FRSE FRSL, Scottish Poet Laureate, Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, Chancellor of Salford University, winner of multiple writing prizes and Literary Awards. Now part of the Literary Establishment. She was born in Glasgow to mixed race parents and was quickly adopted by a Glasgow couple and grew up with them. Her adoptive father was a communist and would be MP, her adoptive mother the general secretary of Scottish CND. Although she had a son in her twenties her sexuality is lesbian. She was in relationship with Carol Ann Duffy (English Poet Laurate) for fifteen years.

But don’t try and take the paralleling too far. There are similarities, especially of theme, but also significant differences as we will see.

You MUST listen to her reciting the poems (plenty readily available online: You Tube) to hear her very particular voice, accent and cadences. Tone is all important in all poetry and this is a way of picking it up quickly. It is less strident than Duffy’s: self- aware, very intelligent , ironically…


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Kind regards, Richard Gent
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