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Jackie Kay - Author

About the Author

Jackie Kay is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays. Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father, she was adopted as a baby by a white couple. Kay's awareness of her different heritages inspired her first book of poetry, The Adoption Papers, which won the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and a commendation from the Forward Poetry Prize judges. Subsequent collections have gone on to win numerous awards. In 2006 Jackie was awarded an MBE. In 2007 she picked up the decibel Writer of the Year prize as part of the British Book Awards. Jackie is the current Makar - National Poet for Scotland. She currently lives in Manchester.

Photo credit Denise Else

Featured books by Jackie Kay

Other books by Jackie Kay

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

Author: Jackie Kay Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 18/03/2021

Bessie Smith A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

Bessie Smith A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 18/02/2021

A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK Bessie Smith: singer, icon, pioneer. Scotland's National Poet Jackie Kay brings to life the tempestuous story of the greatest blues singer who ever lived. 'A gem of a book . . . beautiful.' BERNARDINE EVARISTO 'A wonderful writer on a magnificent singer.' ROBERT WYATT 'Kay's book is the amplifier that Smith's voice deserves.' SUNDAY TIMES 'The most vivid evocation of Bessie Smith I have ever read.' IAN CARR, BBC MUSIC BESSIE SMITH was born in Tennessee in 1894. Orphaned by the age of nine, she sang on street corners before becoming a big name in travelling shows. In 1923 she made her first recording for a new start-up called Columbia Records. It sold 780,000 copies and made her a star. Smith's life was notoriously difficult: she drank pints of 'bathtub gin', got into violent fist fights, spent huge sums of money and had passionate love affairs with men and women. She once single-handedly fought off a cohort of the Ku Klux Klan. As a young black girl growing up in Glasgow, Jackie Kay found in Bessie someone with whom she could identify and who she could idolise. In this remarkable book Kay mixes biography, fiction, poetry and prose to create an enthralling account of an extraordinary life. 'Biographies don't usually bring the subject to life again. This one did. I finished the book then started it again immediately.' PEGGY SEEGER 'What a life! What gulpable storytelling! Exactly the kind of writing about music we need: personal, ardent, playfully confrontational, questioning, undogmatic. A love song to a complicated idol.' KATE MOLLESON 'Pure joy: one trailblazing woman pays tribute to another. Jackie Kay finds the music in the short, dazzling, capricious life of Bessie Smith.' HELEN LEWIS

The Lamplighter

The Lamplighter

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/08/2020

'Ambitious, defiant, angry and gripping . . . the bitter story of slavery through the experience of four women' Guardian 'Jackie Kay's work, formally expansive and inclusive . . . is always about the opening up of our notions of identity' Ali Smith, author of How to Be Both In The Lamplighter award-winning poet and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay takes us on a journey into the dark heart of Britain's legacy in the slave trade. First produced as a play, on the page it reads as a profound and tragic multi-layered poem. We watch as four women and one man tell the story of their lives through slavery, from the fort, to the slave ship, through the middle passage, following life on the plantations, charting the growth of the British city and the industrial revolution. Constance has witnessed the sale of her own child; Mary has been beaten to an inch of her life; Black Harriot has been forced to sell her body; and our lead, the Lamplighter, was sold twice into slavery from the ports in Bristol. Their different voices sing together in a rousing chorus that speaks to the experiences of all those brutalised by slavery, and lifts in the end to a soaring and powerful conclusion. Stirring, impassioned and deeply affecting, The Lamplighter remains as essential today as the day it was first performed. This is an essential work by one of our most beloved writers.

Red Dust Road Picador Classic

Red Dust Road Picador Classic

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/10/2017

Taking the reader from Glasgow to Lagos and beyond, Red Dust Road is a heart-stopping story of parents and siblings, friends and strangers, belonging and beliefs, biology and destiny. With an introduction by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay's journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love. 'Like the best memoirs, this one is written with novelistic and poetic flair. Red Dust Road is a fantastic, probing and heart-warming read' - Independent

Bantam

Bantam

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/10/2017

Jackie Kay's first collection as Scottish Makar is a book about the fighting spirit - one, the poet argues, that we need now more than ever. Bantam brings three generations into sharp focus - Kay's own, her father's, and his own father's - to show us how the body holds its own story. Kay shows how old injuries can emerge years later; how we bear and absorb the loss of friends; how we celebrate and welcome new life; and how we how we embody our times, whether we want to or not. Bantam crosses borders, from Rannoch Moor to the Somme, from Brexit to Bronte country. Who are we? Who might we want to be? These are poems that sing of what connects us, and lament what divides us; poems that send daylight into the dark that threatens to overwhelm us - and could not be more necessary to the times in which we live.

Bantam

Bantam

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/10/2017

Jackie Kay's first collection as Scottish Makar is a book about the fighting spirit - one, the poet argues, that we need now more than ever. Bantam brings three generations into sharp focus - Kay's own, her father's, and his own father's - to show us how the body holds its own story. Kay shows how old injuries can emerge years later; how we bear and absorb the loss of friends; how we celebrate and welcome new life; and how we how we embody our times, whether we want to or not. Bantam crosses borders, from Rannoch Moor to the Somme, from Brexit to Bronte country. Who are we? Who might we want to be? These are poems that sing of what connects us, and lament what divides us; poems that send daylight into the dark that threatens to overwhelm us - and could not be more necessary to the times in which we live.

Refugee Tales Volume II

Refugee Tales Volume II

Author: Jackie Kay, Olivia Laing, Rachel Holmes, Caroline Bergvall Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 20/07/2017

Ten Poems of Kindness

Ten Poems of Kindness

Author: Jackie Kay Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/04/2017

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