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by Andrew Learmonth
18 August 2021
Poet Kathleen Jamie to be Scotland's new Makar

Pic: Scottish Government

Poet Kathleen Jamie to be Scotland's new Makar

Poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie is to succeed Jackie Kay as Scotland’s Makar.

The writer, raised in Currie, Midlothian, is the fourth person to take on the role of national poet, which will see her promoting poetry nationally, as well as producing work relating to significant national events.

Unlike previous holders of the £10,000-a-year post, Jamie was appointed for a three-year term on the recommendation of an expert panel representing Scotland’s literary sector.

Previously, the poet has been selected for a five-year term by the First Minister and her predecessors. 

However, rather than Nicola Sturgeon discussing a shortlist with Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish, this year’s selection process involved an expert panel being commissioned by the Scottish Government to agree a shortlist for this year’s selection and put a single nomination forward to the First Minister for endorsement.

The Scottish Government said the decision to move to a three-year term rather than the previous five-year term was because of the “demands the role places on the Makar’s time and other work, and to help encourage greater diversity, variety and interest in the role going forward.”

Nicola Sturgeon said she was “delighted to confirm Kathleen Jamie as our national poet.”

She added: “Poetry is integral to Scotland’s culture and history. 

"The Makar has a central role in celebrating that legacy, and preserving its future by encouraging the next generation of young writers to leave their mark.

“Kathleen is a highly accomplished poet who is known for her works in English and Scots, and the meaningful connections her writing draws between our lives and the landscape around us. 

"I have no doubt she will continue to build on the exceptional work of her predecessors to promote Scottish poetry both here and abroad."

Jamie said: “I am honoured and delighted to be appointed as Scotland’s new Makar. 

"The post confirms a weel-kent truth: that poetry abides at the heart of Scottish culture, in all our languages, old and new. 

"It’s mysterious, undefinable and bold. It runs deep and sparkles at once.

“Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay and the late Edwin Morgan have held this post before me, a trio of major poets. 

"If I can achieve half of their outreach, humour and wisdom, not to mention their wonderful verse, I’ll be doing well. 

"I am grateful to the selection panel for such a vote of confidence in my work, and to the First Minister for her endorsement and support.

“My task as I see it is to meet folk, to support and encourage poetry, to laugh and lament and witness, and occasionally speak to our national life. I’m excited to begin.” 

Asif Khan, director of the Scottish Poetry Library, said: “Kathleen Jamie is a generational talent - an exceptional Scottish writer of any era. 

"Jamie’s poetry and prose sits with the best writing in English anywhere in the world.” 

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - Miners' Pardon: 'I knew I had done nothing wrong'

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