Jackie and Matthew Kay keep it in the family during the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2013

This article is from 2013

Jackie and Matthew Kay

The poet/novelist and her filmmaking son will discuss their politically-informed works

Jackie Kay has recently been working with asylum seekers in Glasgow, looking at their cultural contributions to Scottish political life. At her appearance at EIBF this week, she's set to discuss the political poetry that grew out of a meeting set up by the Scottish Refugee Council between Kay and three refugees, something she describes as ‘a real eye opener’.

'The challenge for me is always not to write straightforward polemical poems,' she says, ‘but to leave enough space for the reader to make up their minds.’

‘Should the suffragettes have come back from the dead, they would be, I think, truly shocked to return to a world like this,’ Kay continues, ‘where women are fleeing for safety and find no safe haven … the hope, when you write poems like this, is that they will in their small way contribute to making something happen.’

It has evidently been a time of political inspiration for the whole family. The EIBF event will also include a discussion of Kay's work with her son, Matthew Kay, a filmmaker. How will that dynamic feel on stage?

‘It'll be interesting being on with Matthew because we've never done this before,' she says. As well as the discussion, Matthew Kay will be screening an extract from his film, Over the Wall, which looks at the journey of a group of young footballers to the Middle East during the Arab Spring.

‘I'm quite excited about it,’says Kay senior, ‘and about seeing how everyone responds to Matthew's documentary. I'll have to try and stop myself looking too much like a proud mum on stage. That'll be the most difficult bit for me. I went to a screening of Matthew's film in London and his old film teacher said to me, "You must be very proud," and I said, "I'm so proud I could levitate!"

Jackie Kay & Matthew Kay, Charlotte Square, 16 Aug, 4.30pm, £10 (£8).

Jackie Kay

Celebrated poet and makar Jackie Kay reads from Bantam, her first collection since becoming Scottish Makar. Scottish poet Jackie Kay has released numerous poetry collections, including The Adoption Papers, Maw Broon Monologues and The Empathetic Store. Her 1998 novel Trumpet, based on the life of American jazz musician…

Jackie Kay & Matthew Kay

Jackie Kay’s new poems about asylum seekers in Glasgow point up the importance of artistic and cultural contributions to political life. In this event Kay discusses her work with her filmmaker son Matthew Kay. He recently took a British football team to Palestine, where poetry is also a vital part of the culture of…