Jackie Kay named Scottish Makar

Jackie Kay named Scottish Makar

Jackie Kay has been appointed as the National Poet for Scotland, known as the Scottish Makar.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed Kay as the new makar at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh last night (14th March). Kay takes over from Liz Lochhead, who stepped down from the post in January.

Kay was born in Edinburgh and awarded an MBE for her services to literature in 2006. She currently lives in Manchester, where she is chancellor of Salford University.

She will now create new work and promote poetry throughout the country, particularly encouraging young people to engage with the art form.

“It's a tremendous honour to be chosen as Scotland's new makar - following in the footsteps of such wonderful poets as Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead,” Kay said.

“As Robert Burns demonstrated, poetry holds up a unique mirror to a nation's heart, mind and soul. It is the pure language that tells us who we are. I hope to open up the conversations, the blethers, the arguments and celebrations that Scotland has with itself and with the rest of the world, using the voice of poetry in its fine Scottish delivery.”

Sturgeon said that poetry was part of Scotland’s culture and history.

“The role of the makar is to celebrate our poetic past, promote the poetry of today and produce new pieces of work that relate to significant events in our nation,” she said.

"Jackie Kay’s poems sometimes deal with challenging subjects, taken from her own life experiences, and she has a particular Scottish brand of gallus humour. She is hugely respected, is known for her poignant and honest words, and is a role model for many, and I am delighted to name her as the new National Poet for Scotland.”

Kay was selected from a strong shortlist prepared by a panel of literary experts, convened by Dr Robyn Marsack, the director of the Scottish Poetry Library. The final selection was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former first ministers Alex Salmond, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Henry McLeish.

Kay, who was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, will remain in the role of makar for five years.