Kay Ends Tenure/Winchester Poetry Prize – Poetry News Roundup March 17th

In today’s poetry news round-up we look at Jackie Kay’s time as Scottish Makar and the Winchester Poetry Festival which has opened for 2021.

Jackie Kay Ends Tenure

In 2016, Jackie Kay took over the role of Makar, the Scottish National Poet, from Liz Lochhead. Now her five-year tenure has come to an end, but the Scottish Parliament has yet to announce a replacement.

The term Makar has been used since the fifteenth century to describe a poet or a bard, often one with links to the royal court. However, in 2004, the Scottish Parliament established the role of national laureate under the title Makar. The first person to hold this position was Edwin Morgan. Kay is the third Makar, and fought against proposed changes to drop the name Makar from the job title.

During her time in the role, she has read at the opening of the Scottish Parliament, spearheaded a lockdown project to bring poets and musicians to the public eye and in 2018 as part of the Year of Young People, taken up residency at Young Scot.

She has written a number of now well-known poems including “Welcome Wee One” which has been included in every Baby Box given out in Scotland since the initiative launched in 2017; a total of 167,000. Whilst some of her poetry is written in English she has also written in Gaelic and “The Long View”, her poem for the 20th anniversary of the Parliament in Scotland, was partly sung, partly sign language and partly written in the language.

The naming of her successor is a decision that is expected to be made in the next couple of months.

Speaking about her time in the role, Kay said that is had been a wonderful journey from which she had gained a lot.

Winchester Poetry Festival Prize Now Open to the Public

The Winchester Poetry Prize which is organised as part of the Winchester Poetry Festival has now opened for 2021 entries. The competition aims to foster talent and is an open award. There will be only one judge, and the prizes which will be awarded during a special event in October will be £1000 for the winner, £500 for the second prize and £250 for the runner up.

The competition is open to all of those over the age of 16 and poems can be in any form and on any subject, but they must not be any longer than 40 lines. The Festival committee will also be awarding a special prize to a poet who is based in Hampshire.

All of the winning poems, together with any that are commended, will be published in a special anthology that will be published to coincide with the announcement of the winner’s names.

Last year’s winner of the prize has offered to support a total of 10 low-income poets who may not be able to find the entrance fee of £5 for the competition to help them find their place in the poetry community.

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