Jackie Kay poems – revision questions

For each of the following look at your copy of that poem or find it online -http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poets/jackie-kay – then answer the following questions on it. If you complete that try having a go at the discussion points at this site  – http://www.arts.gla.ac.uk/scotlit/asls/pdfs/Jackie_Kay_Teaching_Notes.pdf –


1. Explain how the speaker’s sense of irritation is conveyed in lines 1-6. (4 MARKS)

2. What is the speaker’s attitude towards being old in lines 7-16. (4 MARKS)

3. How does the tone change at stanza 9? (2 MARKS)

4. Choose an image from lines 33-40 and explain how it effective. (2 MARKS)

5. Jackie Kay often explores relationships in her poems. Refer briefly to the central relationship in this poem and go on to discuss a central relationship in at least one other poem by Jackie Kay. (8 MARKS)


1. Explain how the speaker’s sense of fear is conveyed in lines 1-4. (4 MARKS)

2. What is the mother’s attitude towards being in hospital in lines 9-12? (4 MARKS)

3. What does the mother want to change about being in hospital in lines 13-20? (2 MARKS)

4. Show how the mother is made to seem liberated in the final stanza. (2 MARKS)

5. In this poem, Kay takes an everyday, ordinary situation and transforms it into something special and thought-provoking. Choose at least one other poem by her in which she does the same thing and explain how she adds significance to an ordinary event. (8 MARKS)

Keeping Orchids’

1. Explain how the speaker’s sense of discomfort is conveyed in lines 1-12. (4 MARKS)

2. Summarise what is happening in lines 13-16. (2 MARKS)

3. How do we get the impression the speaker is confused in lines 19-27? (4 MARKS)

4. How is the last sentence in the poem effective? (2 MARKS)

5. This poem is deeply emotional and personal. Choose at least one other Kay poem and explain how it conveys strong emotions in that poem. (8 MARKS)


1. Summarise the ways in which the speaker’s parents are an irritation to her. (4 MARKS)

3. How is imagery used to create an idea of the perfect parents in lines 16-24? (4 MARKS)

4. How does the language in lines 24-28 show the speaker’s anger? (4 MARKS)

5. Choose at least one other poem by Kay that explores the theme of family relationships. Show how the poet explores the theme in Divorce and your chosen poem. (8 MARKS)

Gap Year’

1. Summarise the main points in lines 1-16. (4 MARKS)

2. How is a sense of longing established in lines 17-20? (4 MARKS)

3. By referring to two examples, show how the writer uses language to emphasise her feelings of loss during her son’s gap year. (4 MARKS)

4. Kay often uses first person narratives in her poem to recreate events. Using one other poem show how she manages to do this effectively in her poems. (8 MARKS)

My Grandmother’s Houses’

1. Summarise the things that make the speaker’s grandmother’s house seem like a home from lines 1-14. (4 MARKS)

2. Show one way in which the writer makes the church experience stand out (lines 37-44). (2 MARKS)

3. How do we get a sense that there is a class divide between the speaker and the owner of the house in lines 45-60? (4 MARKS)

4. Choose one technique Kay uses to make the last lines effective (63-65)? (2 MARKS)

5. This poem deals with a series of significant moments and memories. Choose at least one other poem that does this and show how Kay makes her poems seem poignant to the reader. (8 MARKS)

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