Dear Julia, I am not yet sold on the hereafter,
Though your presence would be enough to sway me, upward.
Over the woods, tops of trees, the heavy clouds.
If there were such a place I can guarantee
It would be your radiant face I'd want to see.
Your brilliant company that'd be sought after
In the blossomy bosom of the hallowed hereafter.
There we'd be, hearing faraway Holiday.
Splitting our sides, heaving with laughter.
Sugaring a strawberry. The trees, budding, the flame leaves.
To hang out with Julia! I can see why some believe -
Why some, when stricken, want to take their leave.
Why - even dead, Julia, you're still the life and soul.
Not beleaguered. Not serious. Not too revered.
Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers (Bloodaxe) won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere was shortlisted for the Costa award and her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. Red Dust Road (Picador) won the Scottish Book of the Year Award, and the London Book Award, and was shortlisted for the JR Ackerley prize. Her third collection of short stories, Reality, Reality, was praised by The Guardian as "rank[ing] among the best of the genre". She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. Her book of stories Wish I Was Here won the Decibel British Book Award.
Jackie Kay also writes for children and her book Red Cherry Red (Bloomsbury) won the Clype award. She has written extensively for stage and television. Her plays, Manchester Lines (produced by Manchester Library Theatre) and The New Maw Broon Monologues (produced by Glasgay), were a great success. Her most recent collection, Bantam, was published in 2017 to critical acclaim. She is Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.
Jackie Kay was named Scots Makar - the National Poet for Scotland - in March 2016.
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Hereafter Julia © 2018 Jackie Kay: used with permission.
No part of it is to be reproduced, stored in any sort of retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.
Photograph of Jackie Kay by Mary McCartney.