Jackie Kay

2018 Commended

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem

2018 Short-listed

Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year

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Jackie Kay’s first collection as Scottish Makar is a book about the fighting spirit – one, the poet argues, that we need now more than ever. Bantam brings three generations into sharp focus – Kay’s own, her father’s, and his own father’s – to show us how the body holds its own story. Kay shows how old injuries can emerge years later; how we bear and absorb the loss of friends; how we celebrate and welcome new life; and how we how we embody our times, whether we want to or not.

Bantam crosses borders, from Rannoch Moor to the Somme, from Brexit to Bronte country. Who are we? Who might we want to be? These are poems that sing of what connects us, and lament what divides us; poems that send daylight into the dark that threatens to overwhelm us – and could not be more necessary to the times in which we live.

In the media
Kay’s strength as a poet has always been her clear, plain style, and its fearless spoken poignancy

Daily Telegraph

One of Scotland s most celebrated living writers.

The Spectator

Home truths from a goddess of small things, Jackie Kay depicts a world of grief, joy, love and humour in the sparest terms. This collection is a pick-me-up – fresh, upbeat and sympathetic. There are so many delightful poems here.


These poems are bound together by a generous, humane spirit which encompasses childbirth, loving memories of her parents and grandparents, gratitude to the generations which fell in two world wars and the vision of an open, welcoming Scotland. Finding the transcendent in the mundane, and vice versa, Kay’s is a clear and resonant voice befitting the public role it now occupies, but one which communicates sentiments of universality while retaining its own distinctiveness and remaining rooted in Kay’s personal experience.

The Scotsman