Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

People often ask me where I'm from, even in my own country - I seem to have a whole collection of strange anecdotes of people doing that. I'm going to sit down in a pub on a chair in London and this woman went "You cannae sit in that chair. It's my chair." And me saying to her, "Oh right, you're from Glasgow aren't you?" And she says, "Aye, how did you know that?" And I said, "I'm from Glasgow myself," and she went, "You're not are you? You foreign looking bugger!" So that kind of thing happens a lot, and it happens so often I decided I'd just write a poem about being black and Scottish.

In My Country

In My Country

walking by the waters,
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow, watchful circle,
as if I were a superstition;

or the worst dregs of her imagination,
so when she finally spoke
her words spliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
'Here,' I said, 'Here. These parts.'


From Other Lovers (Bloodaxe, 1993), copyright © Jackie Kay 1993, used by permission of the author and Bloodaxe Books Ltd.

Books by Jackie Kay