Jackie Kay on putting her adoption on stage – and getting a pay rise for her successor

Posted in Articles, Arts, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-08-25 02:02Z by Steven

Jackie Kay on putting her adoption on stage – and getting a pay rise for her successor

The Guardian
2019-08-07

Peter Ross


‘I think it’s really scandalous to pay your national poet five grand’ … Kay in Glasgow. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

When Scotland’s national poet travelled to Nigeria to ask her birth father if he ever thought of her, he said no. Does it hurt to put this on stage? And should the next ‘makar’ be on £30,000?

Before Jackie Kay was a writer, she was a character. “When you’re adopted,” she explains over lunch in a Glasgow cafe, “you come with a story.” Her adoptive mother Helen – fascinated by her possible origins – encouraged young Kay to speculate about her birth parents. It was known that her father was Nigerian, her mother a white woman from the Scottish Highlands. Were they, perhaps, torn apart by racial prejudice in 1960s Scotland?

There was tragic romance to that idea, and a fairytale quality in the notion that Kay, offspring of forbidden love, should come to live with John and Helen, two people who had plenty of love – not to mention songs and stories – to share. Little wonder that Kay has come to think of herself as a creature not only of genetics but of the imagination. As Scotland’s national poet writes in her beautiful memoir Red Dust Road, she is “part fable, part porridge”.

Red Dust Road, adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta, is to be presented at the Edinburgh international festival. I catch some scenes in a National Theatre of Scotland rehearsal room: Stefan Adegbola and Sasha Frost are running through the moment when Kay, visiting Nigeria, meets her birth father Jonathan. “Did you ever think of me in all those years?” Frost asks. “No, of course not,” Adegbola replies. “Why would I? It was a long time ago.” This exchange feels brutal, but Kay looks on impassive. She lived it…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Red Dust Road

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Live Events, United Kingdom on 2019-08-06 20:50Z by Steven

Red Dust Road

National Theatre of Scotland
2019-08-10 through 2019-09-21


Elaine C. Smith and Sasha Frost

Based on the soul-searching memoir by Scots Makar Jackie Kay, adapted by Tanika Gupta, and directed by Dawn Walton.

“You are made up from a mixture of myth and gene. You are part fable, part porridge

Growing up in 70s’ Scotland as the adopted mixed raced child of a Communist couple, young Jackie blossomed into an outspoken, talented poet. Then she decided to find her birth parents…

From Nairn to Lagos, Red Dust Road takes you on a journey full of heart, humour and deep emotions. Discover how we are shaped by the folk songs we hear as much as by the cells in our bodies.

Opening at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2019, and at HOME, Manchester in September 2019

Touring to Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling and Eden Court Theatre, Inverness in autumn 2019.

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Teaching Resources, United Kingdom on 2018-08-21 03:05Z by Steven

Slavery graphic novel goes to schools to shed light on Scots history

The National
2018-08-09

Kirsteen Paterson

The work is an 'ambitious collaboration' between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University
The work is an ‘ambitious collaboration’ between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University

EVERY third year pupil in Scotland is to be schooled on Scotland’s slave past thanks to a new graphic novel.

As many as 12,000 copies of Freedom Bound, which draws from research into slavery in the 1700s, are to be distributed around the country within weeks.

The work is an “ambitious collaboration” between independent publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow University, with illustrations from veteran artist Warren Pleece, whose credits include DC Comics and 2000AD.

The result is 144 pages that tell the stories of three people brought to Scotland to serve white masters…

…Launching the online archive in June, Professor Simon Newman of Glasgow University, who worked on Freedom Bound, said the loss of slave stories from the national memory had been “accidental”, telling The National: “Because there weren’t huge numbers of these people, because they formed relationships with the white population, they just disappeared.

“I suspect there are a good number of us who have African DNA.”

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Negotiating the (Non)Negotiable: Connecting ‘Mixed-Race’ Identities to ‘Mixed-Race’ Families

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2018-08-15 03:01Z by Steven

Negotiating the (Non)Negotiable: Connecting ‘Mixed-Race’ Identities to ‘Mixed-Race’ Families

Journal of Intercultural Studies
Volume 39, 2018 – Issue 4: Critical Mixed Race in Global Perspective
Published 2018-08-01
pages 414-428
DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2018.1486292

Mengxi Pang
Department of Sociology
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Whilst being a global phenomenon, ‘mixed-race’ means different things in different contexts. ‘Mixed-race’ individuals make sense of their mixed heritages by drawing on interactions with intimate others from their social networks. Based on an empirical study conducted in Scotland, this paper seeks to explore the linkage between mixed identities, society and families. Examining first-person accounts derived from interviews with self-identified mixed Scots, this paper delineates the dynamics involved in ‘mixed-race’ identifications and it contends that the ways in which mixed individuals make sense of their mixedness are profoundly influenced by their early experiences at home. This paper analyses qualitative data from in-depth interviews to examine the interrelationship between expressed identities and their experiences at home. The focus of analysis is placed upon the ways in which families are factored into the process of negotiating racialised differences by those who had grown up with limited knowledge about their non-Scottish heritage. This paper suggests that the role of families is two-folded: on one hand, it generates symbolic resources for children to negotiate racialised difference; on the other hand, it serves as a key site for the development of racial ideologies. The two roles of families shed light to understand the formation of mixed identities.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , ,

Toeing The Race Line — What I Am And What I Am Not

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2017-12-26 23:51Z by Steven

Toeing The Race Line — What I Am And What I Am Not

Medium
2017-12-07

Kristie De Garis
Edinburgh, Scotland

I think often of my mum’s choice to change her name from Mohammed. How she must have felt when she accepted that she and her children would be safer without that name. What she had to give up within herself to change it. Growing up I loved to spell it out over and over again. M-O-H-A-M-M-E-D. To me it was a beautiful word that felt full and strong in my mouth. I had no idea of its power beyond that. The fact is, my life as ‘Kristie Mohammed’ would have been a very different life to the one I have lived as Kristie Kelbie and then after marrying my first husband, Kristie De Garis.

People are interested in my current name, ‘De Garis’. I get many compliments on how ‘exotic’ it is and how it’s an asset to have such an unusual name. When I tell people that my name could have been ‘Mohammed’, the most common response I get is ‘Whoa!’ and a pained facial expression. My western names mean my looks are accepted as western too because my name provides people with a false context. Throw ‘Mohammed’ into the mix and my intriguing appearance (‘Are you part Spanish or something?’) takes on a different context. A less desirable context…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Margo Jefferson with Jackie Kay

Posted in Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2017-08-05 21:29Z by Steven

Margo Jefferson with Jackie Kay

Edinburgh International Book Festival
Studio Theatre
13-29 Nicolson St
Edinburgh EH8 9FT, United Kingdom
Sunday, 2017-08-20, 20:45-21:45 BST (Local Time)


Feminism and Civil Rights

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson is the author of a bold, defiant and astonishingly accomplished memoir, Negroland. Powerfully demonstrating that a ‘post-racial’ America is far from being a reality, Jefferson explores the challenge of reconciling feminism (often regarded as a white woman’s terrain) with black power (sometimes seen as a black male issue). Jefferson discusses her compelling life story with Scotland’s Makar, the poet and novelist Jackie Kay.

Tags: , , , ,

Jackie Kay announces makar’s tour of all the Scottish islands

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-07 20:21Z by Steven

Jackie Kay announces makar’s tour of all the Scottish islands

The Guardian
2016-10-07

Libby Brooks, Scotland Correspondent

The poet has revealed plans for ‘an odyssey’ that will take in overlooked parts of Scotland and form the basis of a long poem about the country

As the UK lurches towards xenophobia, it is a writer’s responsibility to “tell the time”, says Scotland’s national poet Jackie Kay.

Kay, whose complex relationship with her Scottish identity provides inspiration for much of her work, warned that poets should not shy away from addressing current and acute political divisions…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Scotland’s national poet writes for those who’ve been asked ‘where are you from?’

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2016-09-10 21:46Z by Steven

Scotland’s national poet writes for those who’ve been asked ‘where are you from?’

PBS NewsHour
2016-09-08

Jackie Kay is Scotland’s first black national poet. Adopted as a child, much of her poetry and prose speaks to her own experience of not feeling entirely welcome in her own country. “I wrote the poems that I wanted to read and I wrote about the experiences that I wanted to find,” she says. Jeffrey Brown reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now a Scottish literary talent whose work on identity and belonging, among other themes, has helped propel her to a unique role and a popular writer there.

Jeffrey Brown has our profile.

JACKIE KAY, Scottish Poet & Novelist: “And this is my country, says the fisherwoman from Jura. Mine, too, says the child from Canna and Iona. Mine, too, says the Brain family. And mine, says the man from the Polish deli.”

JEFFREY BROWN: Jackie Kay wrote her poem “Threshold” for the Scottish Parliament and a special guest, Queen Elizabeth.

JACKIE KAY: Let’s blether some more about doors, revolving doors and sliding doors.

JEFFREY BROWN: In the wake to of the recent Brexit vote to leave the European Union, it was a plea to keep doors and the country open to the outside world. As Scotland’s new national poet, Kay made it personal.

JACKIE KAY: Scotland’s changing faces — look at me!

I like the idea of trying to change the face of Scotland. But, traditionally, when somebody thinks of somebody Scottish, they see a white man with red hair in a kilt and a — and they don’t see me.

JEFFREY BROWN: Jackie is the adopted daughter of John and Helen Kay. Her birth mother Scottish. Her father was then a Nigerian student studying in Scotland.

JACKIE KAY: I was an illegitimate child. And being picked to be a national poet is probably a pretty legitimate thing.

(LAUGHTER)

JEFFREY BROWN: I will say…

Watch the interview here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The SRB Interview: Jackie Kay

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-04-11 01:33Z by Steven

The SRB Interview: Jackie Kay

Scottish Review of Books
Volume 11, Issue 3 (2016)

Opening one of Jackie Kay’s books is like walking into a busy metropolitan bar that has accommodated within its walls the deep past, character and charm of a country pub. You know you will encounter stories comic and sad, that you will never leave thirsty, and that the mind will feel renewed with the spirit, musicality and colour of life. Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother. She was adopted at birth by Helen and John Kay, who lived, and still live, in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow. Helen was a primary school teacher who was also secretary of the Scottish peace movement and John worked full time for The Communist Party. When Kay was pregnant with her son Matthew she started a search for her birth parents, and this long experience, along with her Scottish upbringing, is recounted in her memoir Red Dust Road (2010). Kay’s writing style is as varied and vivid as her life, and her ability to inhabit voices and capture them on the page was demonstrated in her first poetry collection, The Adoption Papers (1991). It incorporated themes still prevalent in her work today: ‘what is identity? Is identity a shifting, fluid thing? How much are we made up by genes, and how much by stories? How much is it possible to escape the constraints of our own DNA and invent ourselves? How much does love define us, and make things possible? Does being loved change the shape of your face, or change the look in your eyes, or change your voice, or your body?’

Kay’s output is too prolific to give but a précis. Her second poetry book, Other Lovers (1993), explored the impact of colonialism and slavery on black culture, and it was a topic she returned to in her play The Lamplighter (2008). She has a written a sequence of poems about Bessie Smith, and she also wrote a biographical portrait of the great blues singer, which was published in 1997. Jazz and blues have been a lifelong love, and her novel Trumpet (1998), republished this year as a Picador classic, is about a jazz musician called Joss Moody. Upon his death, the trumpet player is found to have been a woman, and the novel refracts Moody’s life through the lens of those who knew him and the media eye. Kay’s short story collections include Why Don’t You Stop Talking (2002) and Reality, Reality (2012). Her most recent poetry collections are Fiere (2011) and the pamphlet The Empathetic Store, published in 2015 by Mariscat Press. In progress is a new novel, Bystander.

Kay has lived in Manchester for the last twenty years, although she has said ‘in my mind I also live in Scotland’, and frequently is at home in Glasgow seeing her parents. Nick Major met Kay in HOME, a new arts centre and theatre space near Manchester’s old industrial centre. They sat in the upstairs restaurant beside tall glass windows that afforded a view of the sun. The room was baked in a heat that defied the cold winter’s day outside. They had a long afternoon lunch, punctuated with coffee to keep the mind fresh. The clatter of other lives, other lunches, was all around them. Small in stature, large in mind, she was wearing a red jumper that matched the city’s prevailing colour, and two silver discs hung from her ears, shimmering in the light. Kay is a fast talker, and often spoke in long looping sentences that circled every subject, always prodding and poking at it in a search for a newer, clearer understanding. As this edition of the Scottish Review of Books went to press she was appointed our new Makar.

The Scottish Review of Books: You’ve lived in Manchester for many years now, but do you still think of Glasgow as home?

Jackie Kay: I think of Glasgow as my home in the many ways that a person can think of a home. My parents live in exactly the same house I grew up in. Nobody’s been in that house except our family. It’s a Lawrence house. But Glasgow as a city is a spiritual home, and I love the robust energy of the place and all the contradictions. It’s a city of doubles and amazing contrasts. It often gets less attention because Edinburgh is like a beautiful twin sister, but Glasgow is beautiful in its own different way. It is a city that can still surprise you; you can keep getting to know it because it keeps on changing…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , , , ,

Jackie Kay the new Scots Makar, Shaping the Body

Posted in Arts, Audio, Media Archive, Religion, United Kingdom, Women on 2016-03-26 23:17Z by Steven

Jackie Kay the new Scots Makar, Shaping the Body

Woman’s Hour
BBC Radio 4
2016-03-25

The acclaimed writer Jackie Kay has just been announced as the next Scots MakarScotland’s national poet. She tells Jenni about the plans she has for her new role.

Today a new exhibition examining how food, fashion and lifestyle have shaped women’s bodies and lives opens at York Castle Museum. The curator Ali Bodley and fashion historian Lucy Adlington join Jenni to talk about 400 years of squeezing and binding. And, how the current vogue for big bottoms and padded underwear echoes the false rumps of the past.

Mary Magdalene – what do we know about the woman who was described as the constant companion of Jesus, who wept at the foot of the Cross, and who gave the first account of the empty tomb? What is it about her story that continues to fascinate and what evidence is there that she was a prostitute or even the wife of Jesus? Michael Haag author of The Quest for Mary Magdalene speaks to Jenni.

Penrose Halson author of “Marriages are Made In Bond Street” traces the history of one of Britain’s most successful marriage bureaux founded by two twenty-four year olds in the Spring of 1939. Penrose eventually became the proprietor and she tells Jenni about the remarkable cross-section of British society in the 1940’s who found partners through this tiny London office.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,