In conversation with Alastair Laurence.
Jackie Kay was born to a Scottish Mother and Nigerian Father. She was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple. Her first poetry collection was called The Adoption Papers. This won the Forward Prize. Ever since, Jackie has been exploring themes of identity, race, nationality, gender and sexuality in her writing. Her extraordinary novel Trumpet was about the American Jazz musician Billy Tipton, a transgender man. She wrote a biography of the bisexual Queen of the Blues, Bessie Smith. This has recently been reissued and made into the Radio 4 Book of the Week. Her autobiography Red Dust Road tells the story of the search for her biological parents.
She has been the National Poet of Scotland, the third Makar, from 2016 to 2021. And many accolades, honours and awards have gone her way during her acclaimed career as a writer. Jackie is a former Chancellor of the University of Salford and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.
Alastair Laurence, who is curating this series, is a freelance documentary film maker who lives near Abergavenny. In recent years Alastair has made films about The Battle of the Somme, a history of British Photography and the poets John Betjeman, Philip Larkin and TS Eliot.