Re-charting the Black Atlantic: Jackie Kay’s Cartographies of the Self

  1. Rodríguez González, Carla
Études écossaises

ISSN: 1240-1439 1969-6337

ISBN: 978-2-84310-296-7

Year of publication: 2015

Pages: 103-119

Type: Article

DOI: 10.4000/ETUDESECOSSAISES.977 GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor

More publications in: Études écossaises


The aim of this article is to assess Jackie Kay’s poetry in its local and internationalist dimension, focusing on her contribution to incorporating Scotland into the transnational contemporary literary corpus that addresses and interrogates the Black Atlantic (Gilroy, 1993) from various angles: political, cultural, and emotional. It analyses Kay’s development as a poet from her early publications in the 1980s to her recent pieces. Firstly, it contextualises Kay’s early career in the framework of 1980s Black British feminism and examines her depiction of hyphenated identities in Scotland. Secondly, it studies her multi-layered—biological, multicultural—interrogation and redefinition of genealogy in the collection The Adoption Papers (1991), as the starting point for the development of a more complex articulation of identity in subsequent pieces, like Other Lovers (1993) and Off Colour (1998). These two books are regarded as crucial in Kay’s progressive incorporation of her Scottishness into the personalised Black Atlantic she charts in her writing, where the appropriation of biographical elements from transcultural female icons serves as a strategy to emphasise the fluidity of relational selves. Finally, special attention is paid to The Lamplighter (2008) and its interrogation of Gilroy’s model through the parameters of gender and Scottishness.