Scotland’s national poet writes for those who’ve been asked ‘where are you from?’
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.
JEFFREY BROWN: I will say…
Watch the interview here.