The “Telling Part”: Reimagining Racial Recognition in Jackie Kay’s Adoptee Search Narratives

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-07-19 22:12Z by Steven

The “Telling Part”: Reimagining Racial Recognition in Jackie Kay’s Adoptee Search Narratives

Contemporary Women’s Writing
Volume 9, Issue 2 (July 2015)
pages 277-296
DOI: 10.1093/cww/vpu041

Pamela Fox, Professor of English
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

This article examines Jackie Kay’s earliest and renowned autobiographical poetic text, The Adoption Papers (1991), in relation to her latest narrative memoir, Red Dust Road (2010), and in the context of racial recognition theories recently revived in transracial adoption (TRA) discourse, as well as in transnational adoptee versions of TRA search narratives. Investigating the tropes of mirrors and bodily markings recurring in both texts, the article also draws on literary theories of recognition to enrich our understanding of Kay’s unique and dual intervention into TRA debates around notions of kinship, as well as autobiographical narrative models that fully reject or embrace a longing for racialized epistemic and narrative wholeness. Kay periodically preserves yet ultimately reimagines the myriad tensions of seeking and practicing racial recognition by constituting it as a distinct but momentary kind of vision. Her practice of life writing highlights reading (both literal and interpretive) as a crucial component of self-construction that continually mediates between individual and group identities. She presents the adoptive self as a freeing constellation of shifting affiliations, but as the product of intertwined Western and diasporic histories and relations, her texts also bear the marks of longing for a singular legible “home,” a stable “I.”

Read or purchase the article here.

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University of Salford installs new Chancellor, Professor Jackie Kay MBE

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-06-03 21:06Z by Steven

University of Salford installs new Chancellor, Professor Jackie Kay MBE

University of Salford
Salford, United Kingdom
Friday, 2015-05-01

The University celebrated the official installation of it’s sixth Chancellor, renowned poet Professor Jackie Kay MBE, at a grand ceremony in Peel Hall on Wednesday 29 April 2015.

Jackie Kay MBE was formally initiated in a ceremony that saw celebrated Accrington writer Jeanette Winterson and Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart sing the praises of the renowned Scottish poet who will now head up the university.

The role of Chancellor will see distinguished, award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays act as the ceremonial head of the institution and play an important part in representing the University of Salford and supporting the work of students and the wider community.

In addition to her role as Chancellor, Jackie will also take up the position of University ‘Writer in Residence.’ This role involves contributing major commissions to enhance learning and teaching, and broaden the students’ experience at the University…

…Jackie has published five collections of poetry for adults and several for children. Jackie’s first book of poetry, The Adoption Papers won the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and a commendation from the Forward Poetry Prize judges.

Her other awards include the Guardian First Book Award Fiction Prize for her celebrated first novel Trumpet and the Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers.

She also writes extensively for the stage and screen. Her play Twice Over was the first by a Black writer to be produced by Gay Sweatshop Theatre Group in 1988. Her plays have been performed at The Royal Exchange and more recently she wrote Manchester Lines for the Library Theatre.

Her drama The Lamplighter looks in depth at the Atlantic slave trade and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and published by Bloodaxe.

Jackie has lived in Manchester for over 15 years and is Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University. Jackie is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle and her 2010 book Red Dust Road is currently being made into a play for television…

Read the entire article here.

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University of Salford officially appoints renowned poet Professor Jackie Kay as their new chancellor

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2015-06-03 20:40Z by Steven

University of Salford officially appoints renowned poet Professor Jackie Kay as their new chancellor

Manchester Evening News
Manchester, England
2015-05-09

Charlotte Dobson, Social Affairs Reporter


Prof Jackie Kay MBE appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford

Professor Jackie Kay MBE was formally initiated at a ceremony attended by fellow celebrated writer Jeanette Winterson on Wednesday.

A celebrated poet has been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford.

Prof Jackie Kay MBE, an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays, said it was an honour to be chosen for the role.

Prof Kay will also take up the position of university writer in residence.

Prof Kay said: “I feel honoured to have been chosen as the new chancellor for the University of Salford and look forward to being a hands-on chancellor, as well as a ‘shaking hands’ chancellor…

Read the entire article here.

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“Love Letter to My Ancestors:” Representing Traumatic Memory in Jackie Kay’s The Lamplighter

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery, Women on 2014-12-30 02:16Z by Steven

“Love Letter to My Ancestors:” Representing Traumatic Memory in Jackie Kay’s The Lamplighter

Atlantis: Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies
Volume 36, Number 2 (December 2014)
pages 161-182

Petra Tournay-Theodotou, Associate Professor of English
European University Cyprus, Engomi, Nicosia-Cyprus

Jackie Kay’s The Lamplighter, published in 2008, was first broadcast on BBC radio in 2007 to coincide with the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the African slave trade in Britain. Kay’s dramatised poem or play, as it has alternately been defi ned, focuses on the female experience of enslavement and the particular forms of dehumanization the female slave had to endure. Kay’s project can in fact be described in terms of Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory,” or more specifically of “feminist postmemory.” As such, literary devices are employed to emulate the traumatic events at the level of form such as intertextuality, repetition and a fragmented narrative voice. While commemorating the evils of the past, Kay simultaneously wishes to draw attention to contemporary forms of racism and exploitation in the pursuit of profit. Through re-telling the story of slavery, The Lamplighter can ultimately be regarded as Kay’s tribute to her African roots and the suffering endured by her African forebears and contemporaries.

Read the entire article here.

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Appointment of new Chancellor

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-23 00:14Z by Steven

Appointment of new Chancellor

University of Salford, Manchester
News
2014-10-17

The distinguished award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays, Jackie Kay MBE, has been appointed as our new Chancellor. Jackie, who takes up the position immediately, takes over from the University’s previous Chancellor, Dr Irene Khan who stepped down earlier this year after her five-year term.

As well as the honorary role of Chancellor, Jackie will, from the 1 January 2015, take up the position of University ‘Writer in Residence’. In this capacity, she will contribute major commissions that will enhance learning and teaching and the students’ broader experience at the University.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Martin Hall said: “We are thrilled to welcome Jackie to our University. She will inspire our staff, work with our students to help them imagine their future selves and strengthen our role as a civic institution in our wider community.”

Jackie Kay said:” It’s a huge honour to have been chosen to be Chancellor of Salford University, and I’m very much looking forward to taking up the role, and to being a hands-on Chancellor, as well as a shaking hands Chancellor. As Writer in Residence, the idea of getting to know each department thoroughly and of finding new and pioneering ways to work across disciplines excites me.”…

…Jackie, who lives in Manchester, was born to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father in Edinburgh and was adopted as a baby by Helen and John Kay, growing up in Glasgow

Read the entire article here.

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Award-winning author and poet Jackie Kay appointed as University of Salford’s new chancellor

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-10-22 21:22Z by Steven

Award-winning author and poet Jackie Kay appointed as University of Salford’s new chancellor

Manchester Evening News
Manchester, England
2014-10-19

Dean Kirby

Jackie Kay MBE succeeds Dr Irene Khan at the University of Salford, who stepped down earlier this year after her five-year term came to an end

An award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays has been appointed as the University of Salford’s new chancellor.

Jackie Kay MBE succeeds Dr Irene Khan, who stepped down earlier this year after her five-year term came to an end.

As well as the honorary role of chancellor, Jackie will become the university’s writer in residence…

Read the entire article here.

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Jackie Kay on reading out an anti-racist poem at a football ground

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-01-06 17:36Z by Steven

Jackie Kay on reading out an anti-racist poem at a football ground

The Guardian
2012-10-26

Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing
Newcastle University

Jackie Kay readies for an experiment – being a poet on Sheffield United’s pitch and helping to kick racism out of football

On Monday I’m going to be pitching my anti-racist poem to fans of the Blades and Pompey at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium, the oldest major football stadium in the world still hosting matches.

I’m an experiment – a poet on the pitch, but not a pitch-perfect poet. I might even be a botched experiment. As far as I know, I’m the first poet to read to a whole stadium just before kick-off – but certainly the first woman poet. The two women behind this initiative are Sue Beeley, head of community at Sheffield United, and Su Walker from Off the Shelf Literature Festival. They came up with the idea of commissioning a poet to write an anti-racist poem, read it at a match, and paint the poem on the stadium walls. They picked me because they’d read I was sporty! Beeley said: ”If it works, it will go down a storm, if it doesn’t we’ll let you know.” Off the Shelf has commissioned poets for years; slowly, deftly, they’ve been creating a poetic map of the city of steel. In Sheffield, Andrew Motion has a poem on the side of one student building, Jarvis Cocker is on another, Benjamin Zephaniah on the railings of another, and Roger McGough can be found in the Winter Garden…

…When I was researching my poem, I came across Arthur Wharton, the first professional black footballer to play in the Football League. He was born in Ghana; his father was half-Scottish and half-Grenadian. He came to England in 1882 and by 1894 was playing for Sheffield United. He died in 1930. Wharton was my talisman. I imagined him coming back from the dead and hearing the news. I imagined his reaction to the monkey chanting. Just thinking about him made me think about the extra time on racism’s clock; how racism is society’s own goal. Shaming….

Read the entire article here.

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Missing faces

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2013-07-18 02:00Z by Steven

Missing faces

The Guardian
2007-03-23

Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing
Newcastle University

As the United Kingdom marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade tomorrow, Jackie Kay challenges fellow Scots to acknowledge their forebears’ part in this shameful history and reflects on the ordeal suffered by her ancestors

We’re perhaps over-fond of dates, of going round in circles of a hundred years to mark the birth of, or the death of, trying to grasp, as we all get older, what time means. Anniversaries give us the perfect excuse to try and catch up on what we already should have caught up on. Anniversaries afford us a big noisy opportunity to try and remember what we should not have forgotten.

Slavery is one of those subjects we all think we know about. Men were shipped, packed like sardines, as in that famous drawing by Thomas Clarkson, the abolitionist. The Africans sold their own people – this gets mentioned so often, as if the reiteration of African complicity diminishes responsibility. But what spirit, eh, the African people? Mind you, there’s always been slavery, the ancient Romans were at it, etc etc. We are closed to any more detail; we don’t want to know. We don’t want to imagine how slavery would affect each of the five senses. Too much information fills ordinary people, black and white, with revulsion, distaste, or worse, induces boredom. We think we’ve heard it all before…

Read the entire article here.

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I first met Audre in 1984, when I was 22. She told me her grandfather had been Scottish, and that I didn’t need to choose between being Scottish and being black. “You can be both.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-07-02 02:10Z by Steven

I first met Audre in 1984, when I was 22. She told me her grandfather had been Scottish, and that I didn’t need to choose between being Scottish and being black. “You can be both. You can call yourself an Afro Scot,” she said in her New York drawl. Lorde was Whitman-like in her refusal to be confined to single categories. She was large. She contained multitudes…

Jackie Kay, “My hero: Audre Lorde by Jackie Kay,” The Guardian, November 11, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/18/my-hero-audre-lorde-jackie-kay

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Darling: New & Selected Poems

Posted in Books, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Poetry, United Kingdom, Videos, Women on 2013-04-03 20:54Z by Steven

Darling: New & Selected Poems

Bloodaxe Books
2007
224 pages
Paperback ISBN: 1 85224 777 0

Jackie Kay, Professor of Creative Writing
Newcastle University

Humour, gender, sexuality, sensuality, identity, racism, cultural difference: when do any of these things ever come together to equal poetry? When Jackie Kay’s part of the equation. Darling brings together into a vibrant new book many favourite poems from her four Bloodaxe collections, The Adoption Papers, Other Lovers, Off Colour and Life Mask, as well as featuring new work, some previously uncollected poems, and some lively poetry for younger readers.

Kay’s poems draw on her own life and the lives of others to make a tapestry of voice and communal understanding. The title of her acclaimed short story collection, Why Don’t You Stop Talking, could be a comment on her own poems, their urgency of voice and their recognition of the urgency in all voice, particularly the need to be heard, to have voice. And what voice – the voices of the everyday, the voices of jazz, the voices of this many-voiced United Kingdom.

Jackie Kay reads from Darling

Jackie Kay reads three poems, ‘In My Country’, ‘Somebody Else’ and ‘Darling’, from Darling: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2007). This film is from the DVD-book In Person: 30 Poets filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, edited by Neil Astley, which includes eight poems from Darling read by Jackie Kay.  Jackie Kay was an adopted child of Scottish/Nigerian descent brought up by Scottish parents. With humour and emotional directness, her poetry explores gender, sexuality, identity, racism and cultural difference as well as love and music. Her poems draw on her own life and the lives of others to make a tapestry of voice and communal understanding. We filmed her at her home in Manchester in 2007.

A short biography of Jackie Kay written by Elizabeth Shostak can be read here.  An excerpt is below.

Unconventional Upbringing
Kay’s fascination with themes of identity can be traced to an upbringing that set her apart, in many ways, from the majority culture in her native Scotland. Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, she was adopted by a white family and raised in Glasgow, where she often accompanied her communist parents to antiapartheid demonstrations and peace rallies. Life wasn’t easy for a biracial child in mostly–white Glasgow. “I still have Scottish people asking me where I’m from,” she told Guardian writer Libby Brooks. “They won’t actually hear my voice, because they’re too busy seeing my face.”…

Early Works Explored Identity
When Kay was twelve, she wrote One Person, Two Names, an eighty–page story about an African–American girl who pretended to be white. The question of how we define ourselves, and why, has intrigued Kay in all her subsequent work…

1Shostak, Elizabeth. “Kay, Jackie 1961–.” Contemporary Black Biography. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (May 2, 2010). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2873900038.html

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