The writer Jackie Kay has been announced as Scotland’s new Makar.
She will succeed Liz Lochhead as the National Poet for Scotland, creating new work and promoting poetry throughout the country and particularly encouraging young people to engage with the art form.
Ms Kay, who is an award winning author and has been recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said: “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.
“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.”
The First Minister made the announcement at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh where Ms Kay read one of her own poems, ‘Between the Dee and the Don’. Ms Sturgeon said: “Poetry is part of Scotland’s culture and history, it celebrates our language and can evoke strong emotions and memories in all of us.
“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.
“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.”
Dr Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library, chaired the advisory panel. She added: “The Scottish Poetry Library is delighted to be Jackie Kay’s virtual home and real support for the next five years. We know that she has a hugely enthusiastic readership in this country and beyond its borders; her poems are characterised by their warmth and empathy, sometimes fierce and sometimes funny. She will certainly be a great ambassador for poetry.”
Ms Kay, who was awarded an MBE for her services to literature in 2006, was selected from a strong shortlist prepared by a panel of literary experts, including Dr Robyn Marsack.
The final selection was made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former first ministers Alex Salmond, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Henry McLeish.