Jackie Kay was an adopted child of Scottish/Nigerian descent brought up by white parents in Glasgow. She is one of Britain’s best-known poets, appearing frequently on radio and TV programmes on poetry and culture. In 2007 Bloodaxe published Darling: New & Selected Poems, which included almost all of her four previous books of poetry from Bloodaxe, The Adoption Papers (1991), Other Lovers (1993), Off Colour (1998) and Life Mask (2005). Her epic poem The Lamplighter (Bloodaxe Books, 2008; Picador, 2020) was adapted for both radio and stage, and was followed by Fiere (Picador, 2011), The Empathetic Store (Mariscat Press, 2015) and Bantam (Picador, 2017).
Jackie Kay's fiction and non-fiction (from Picador) has been massively popular: her novel Trumpet (1998), three collections of short stories, Why Don’t You Stop Talking? (2002), Wish I Was Here (2006) and Reality, Reality (2012), and her memoir Red Dust Road (2010), which won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award in 2011. Bessie Smith (1997), her biography of the blues singer, was reissued by Faber in 2021 and was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.
She won the Somerset Maugham Award with Other Lovers, the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet, Decibel Writer of the Year for Wish I Was Here and has twice won the Signal Poetry Award for her children’s poetry. Her fourth book of poetry for children, Red Cherry, Red, was published by Bloomsbury in 2007. The Adoption Papers is a set text on numerous school and university courses. She lives in Manchester, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2006, and a CBE in 2020.
She is Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University, and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She co-edited the anthologies Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe Books / Newcastle University, 2012) with James Procter and Gemma Robinson, and The Mighty Stream: Poems in celebration of Martin Luther King (Bloodaxe Books / Newcastle University, 2017) with Carolyn Forché.
In 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Salford. She was Makar, National Poet of Scotland, from 2016 to 2021. In 2022 The Adoption Papers was selected as one of ten books representing the 1990s in The Big Jubilee Read, a celebration of great books from across the Commonwealth to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, one of only three poetry collections out of 70 books on the list.
Books by Jackie Kay