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Jackie Kay Biography | Poet

Photo of Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay was born in 1961 on the 9th of November, and she is still working today. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and is currently a professor of creative writing at the Newcastle University. Jackie Kay's biracial and cross-cultural background has certainly influenced her work, which was impressive right from the start. She has been awarded the Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers in the year 1994, the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Award for the Adoption Papers in 1991, and the Guardian First Book Award Fiction Prize for Trumpet.

The Education of Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay's alma mater is the University of Stirling. However, she displayed talent with poetry and writing in general at a very early age, so this could be considered a natural ability as opposed to a finely honed craft that was largely nurtured through education. Artist Alasdair Gray helped encourage Jackie Kay to become a famous writer, and she might have become an actress otherwise.

The Life and Family of Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay's mother was Scottish and her father was Nigerian. This automatically gave her something of a unique perspective on the world, as well as the will to understand people who do not always have the cultural backgrounds that society regards as standard. She is considered an important Scottish poet today, and many people are surprised to learn that she is black, given the stereotypical image of the European poet as white. She was adopted by a white Scottish couple, and she grew up being raised in their cultural traditions and with their values, which gave her a great deal of respect for Scottish culture and the Scottish people in general, which is not going to be the case for everyone who calls herself Scottish.

The Accomplishments of Jackie Kay

The Adoption Papers was the first great work of Jackie Kay. It is a detailed account of a group of women who have very different cultural and social backgrounds in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and almost every other axis from which a person could be privileged or subaltern. As a person who grew up in this sort of biracial environment in a society that was even less progressive than today's society, this gave Jackie Kay a personal vested interest in understanding this way of life and all of these very different perspectives on womanhood. The Other Lovers and Trumpet were both very popular and acclaimed works as well. These works did not address the exact same subject matter as directly, but they still managed to fit well into a body of work that was concerned with the experiences of oppressed people in general.

The Legacy of Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay is still a relatively modern poet, and her work hasn't really had the time that it needed to truly become part of the national and international consciousness. However, her work has an important role to play in Scottish culture in general, as well as in the role of oppressed people in society in particular.

Jackie Kay certainly had a strong sense of the idea that she was the only one communicating certain things, and that people needed her because no one else was saying them. She was somewhat ambiguous about what she means exactly. A good portion of her more autobiographical work would definitely fall into that category, and she was able to dramatize the events of her life with the sort of skill that is rare even among poets. Jackie Kay was also very liberal, and people who care deeply about the plight of the oppressed will often feel as if others are completely indifferent towards it.

However, her poetry is stylistically unique as well. Jackie Kay's poetry has a certain dramatic quality and musicality that makes it seem more modern than it is and more traditional than it is all at the same time. Her poetry is musical in a way that seems distinctly Scottish, as if she is subtly carrying the torch for their traditions. Jackie Kay also knew how to use repetition and reinforcement in just the right way, allowing the work to feel stylized and not simply full of redundancies. Her poetry was memorable in terms of content and style. 

Jackie Kay: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes