It was the number and variety of questions the audience asked at the end of Jackie Kay’s poetry evening that demonstrated how Scotland’s Makar had entranced, entertained and ingeniously re-invigorated all those who had the good fortune to participate in this highly popular event.
Taking place in the atmospheric surroundings of the Haddo House library, Jackie’s rich and diverse range of topics included democracy, lesbians, adoption, being of mixed race, trade union family holidays to Romania, poppy red zimmers, war-time, the challenge of ageing, love, Aberdeen and even the grocery shop by Loch Carron.
Jackie tackles her subjects head-on. She described with gutsy humour and directness her experience of finding out about her birth parents after being adopted by and growing up with a white family in Glasgow. Many of the poems Jackie read so expressively demonstrated the warmth and love of her family in Scotland. The poem ‘Between the Dee and the Don’ very effectively captured the nature of her dual identity while celebrating the expressiveness of local dialects and letting us know she was born ‘in the city of crag and stone’
This was no formal evening where we sat rigidly silent. It was one interspersed with regular bouts of laughter as Jackie delivered witty one-liners, something that runs in her family, and turned life’s everyday challenges into poetic gold.
The evening began with a short recital from two present students of the North East of Scotland Music School – NESMS – founded by June, Marchioness of Aberdeen over 40 years ago. Ruaraidh Williams cello and Jeremy Coleman piano delighted us with a cunningly devised programme which opened with a tribute to the Baroque era with two movements from a Suite by Telemann . The wonderfully resonant singing tone of the cello was given full reign in the famous Apres un Reve by Faure, and there was brilliance a-plenty in the Allegro Appassionato by Saint-Saens. The recital ended with the demanding FAE Scherzo by Brahms, but not until after the second movement of the Chopin Sonata – a favourite of the Makar – had worked its magic. For all of us it was a great treat to hear such music-making in the sort of room for which such Chamber music was designed, and to share a very special music making by our two consummate musicians – and using June’s own piano. What a treat!
Lucy Gordon and Dr Roger Willams
‘Photos by: Simon M Scott’ – www.simonmscott.com