Plenary by Jackie Kay

In this plenary talk, writer Jackie Kay shares some of her poems and explores themes related to 'homeland'.

About the session

The imagined land

V S Naipaul said 'all landscapes exist in the imagination'. I grew up with an imaginary homeland as well as an actual one. Both the highlands and the islands of Scotland and the imaginary red dust roads of Nigeria fed my imagination. As an adopted child, I pictured the road less travelled, as well as the roads I did travel. I will be reading from my memoir Red Dust Road, and talking about imagined lands in my work; not just the red dust road of my ancestral village, but the original countries of people who have been exiled. I will read new poems based on the voices of three different Scottish refugees, and talking about the various creative ways that people, in a new country, recreate their original one. The Imagined Land is rich and fertile; it is lost and found. The life you didn't live often runs alongside, or even underneath the life you actually did live. Through a mixture of poetry and prose, I'll be exploring these rich themes and reopening the free border country of the imagination.

About the speaker

Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers (Bloodaxe) won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere, her most recent collection of poems, was shortlisted for the Costa award. Her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the Impac award. Red Dust Road (Picador) won the Scottish Book of the Year Award, and the London Book Award. It was shortlisted for the JR Ackerley prize. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. Her book of stories Wish I Was Here won the Decibel British Book Award. She also writes for children and her book Red Cherry Red (Bloomsbury) won the Clype award. She has written extensively for stage and television. Her most recent plays Manchester Lines (produced by Manchester Library Theatre) and The New Maw Broon Monologues (produced by Glasgay) were a great success. Her most recent book is a collection of stories, Reality, Reality. She is currently working on her new novel, Bystander. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

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