Jackie Kay Poems

Jackie Kay is a Scottish poet who is also well-regarded for her dramatic writing. Some of her best-known works are Trumpet and Red Dust Road. She was named the national poet laureate of Scotland and has severed in the role since 2016. Kay has won awards like the Cholmondeley Award, Eric Gregory Award, and British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year.

My Grandmother’s Houses

by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’s Houses’ by Jackie Kay is a thoughtful recollection of youth and a young speaker’s relationship with her eccentric grandmother, who is forced to move homes.

The poem is typical of Kay's work, insofar as it is deeply imbued with memory and marked by the poet's own personal history.

She is on the second floor of a tenement.

From her front room window you see the cemetery.

Rubble

by Jackie Kay

‘Rubble’ by Jackie Kay is a dramatic monologue that was included in her collection, Darling: New & Selected Poems. It conveys an individual’s cluttered and chaotic mind. 

Despite not being one of her best known poems, Rubble still contains many of Kay's usual themes and sense of drama.

What was the thought that I just had in my head?

(…)

the broken heart. The world outside is breaking

Late Love

by Jackie Kay

‘Late Love’ explores the transformative power of love, contrasting its passionate heights with the fading memories and passage of time.

This poem is a good representation of Jackie Kay's poetry. It showcases her signature style of introspective and emotionally resonant writing, exploring themes of love, longing, and human connections. The poem demonstrates Kay's ability to capture nuanced emotions, employ vivid imagery, and evoke a sense of nostalgia. While it is just one example of her work, 'Late Love' reflects the depth and artistry found in many of Kay's poems, making it a representative piece of her poetic repertoire.

How they strut about, people in love,

how tall they grow, pleased with themselves,

their hair, glossy, their skin shining.

They don’t remember who they have been.

Divorce

by Jackie Kay

‘Divorce’ by Jackie Kay is about parent-child relationships and how children are impacted by adults’ issues. The speaker is a teenager who is struggling to contend with her parent’s relationship with one another. 

Got You

by Jackie Kay

‘Got You’ by Jackie Kay is an interesting poem about sibling jealousy and the strength of sisterhood. The speaker is a discouraged child who believes her sister is superior to her in every way.

He Told Us He Wanted a Black Coffin

by Jackie Kay

‘He Told Us He Wanted a Black Coffin’ by Jackie Kay is a heart-wrenching poem narrated by a mother whose son passed away from AIDs.

Explore more poems from Jackie Kay

In the Seventh Year

by Jackie Kay

‘In the Seventh Year’ by Jackie Kay is a short, beautiful lyric poem. It describes the timeless and changing nature of a speaker’s relationship.

Love Nest

by Jackie Kay

‘Love Nest’ by Jackie Kay depicts the difficulties that same-sex couples face and society’s cruel infiltrates their relationships and homes. The poet uses a skillful, multilayered extended metaphor in this piece.

My Grandmother

by Jackie Kay

‘My Grandmother’ by Jackie Kay depicts the poet’s understanding of her grandmother. The includes a juxtaposition between her positive and negative qualities. 

My grandmother is like a Scottish pine,

tall, straight-backed, proud and plentiful,

a fine head of hair, greying now

tied up in a loose bun.

Plague

by Jackie Kay

‘Plague’ by Jackie Kay is a poem about death, specifically about the plague in London and how a mother is forced to contend with the knowledge that both her sons are going to die.

Pork Pies

by Jackie Kay

‘Pork Pies’ by Jackie Kay is a unique poem about the kidnapping of a child by two other young children who may have also taken his life. It was likely inspired by real-life events.

Pride

by Jackie Kay

‘Pride’ by Jackie Kay is a moving poem about identity and pride. The poet utilized her personal experience when writing this piece. 

The Same Note

by Jackie Kay

‘The Same Note’ by Jackie Kay depicts Bessie Smith’s musical ability and how she could unite people from all walks of life. 

The Underground Baby Case

by Jackie Kay

‘The Underground Baby Case’ by Jackie Kay conveys the feelings and choices of a woman who lost her own child and stole someone else’s.

There was a couple of things

I wanted to remember