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Jackie Kay is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays. Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and Nigerian father, she was adopted as a baby by a white couple. Kay's awareness of her different heritages inspired her first book of poetry, The Adoption Papers, which won the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and a commendation from the Forward Poetry Prize judges. Subsequent collections have gone on to win numerous awards. In 2006 Jackie was awarded an MBE. In 2007 she picked up the decibel Writer of the Year prize as part of the British Book Awards. Jackie is the current Makar - National Poet for Scotland. She currently lives in Manchester.
Photo credit Denise Else
This captivating collection comprises intensely poignant profiles of people and places; of domestic life and wild landscapes, especially Scotland’s “dark and stormy waters”, with flashes of crimson running through the poems in the form of fire, a fox, red shoes, a red balloon. Among the cast of memorable characters is Mrs Dungeon Brae, terrifying in both life and death, and The Knitter, who “knits to keep death away” and urgently recounts big life occasions knitting has accompanied her through, all the while “casting on, casting off”. Then there’s the grandmother lamenting the fact that “it’s no like the past for grannies these days...nobody knows how to make a conversation/ let alone make a home-made meal or a fresh baked scone.” Brimming with humanity - with love, anger, frustration and flashes of humour - this engaging, accessible anthology makes a richly rewarding gift for language lovers of all ages.