Strontian welcomes the Makar

Scots Makar Jackie Kay had pupils enthralled during her visit to Ardnamurchan High last week.

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Ardnamurchan High School was delighted to host Scots Makar Jackie Kay last week.

Ms Kay took to the stage in the Strontian school’s assembly hall to speak to pupils about life as a writer and to present some of her poetry.

This was a fantastic opportunity for the school, as Ms Kay’s work is part of the set text for National Five English Set Scottish Text exam paper.

The session was run in an interview format, chaired by English teacher Deborah White and faculty head Peter Newman, who asked the questions before Ms Kay broke off to read some of her work and to include the young people in some spirited audience participation.

The position of Scots Makar – the national poet for Scotland – was created in February 2004 by the Scottish Government under First Minister Jack McConnell. ‘Makar’ is the Scots word for the author of a literary work, and particularly for a poet or bard.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Ms Kay’s appointment as the new Makar in 2016, at the Scottish Poetry Library, for a five-year term. In this role, she follows such heavyweight names as Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochhead.

Ms Kay was made MBE for services to literature in 2006, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is currently chancellor of Salford University.

Her poetry collections include Darling: New and Selected Poems (2007), and Fiere (2011), which reflects on her Nigerian and Scottish heritage.

Her memoir Red Dust Road (2010), which she has called a ‘love letter’ to her white adoptive parents, won the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book of the Year Award in 2011.

Her latest collection, featuring poems from her residency at the Ardtornish Estate, is The Empathetic Store (Mariscat, 2015).