Books: Inspirations: Poet and novelist Jackie Kay

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The music

For their sad and shocking narratives, I have always loved the blues, particularly Bessie Smith. Her raw, unplugged voice drags me down to the depth of despair and brings me back again. The blues have a way of making me feel known. And the blues are funny, that strange kind of funny where people can laugh at somebody's funeral.

The play

I saw 7:84's The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil in my early teens in the Cumbernauld Little Theatre. An inspiring play about the Highland Clearances. That feeling, in that wee theatre, of exhilaration, of intense camaraderie. We were so close to the stage we practically transformed into teuchters - the opposite of Sassenachs.

The place

Croig, the Isle of Mull. We stayed on a croft off Mrs Dudgeon Bray's farm. Mrs Dudgeon Bray would shoot at strangers. I was four. When we arrived off the ferry, the locals gathered round my brother and me asking: "Do they have the English?" "Bloody cheek," my mum said, "Most of them don't have the English." On a good day I could see the islands of Rhum and Eigg, where I imagined people drank rum and ate egg only.

The film

Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity. I love the terrible tension and greed; the double betrayal. I love the way films like this have lines you can say in your own life: "It's you and me baby till the end of the line."

The artwork

There are artists I used to particularly like such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Charles Rennie MacKintosh, whose work has become so commercialised, it has been spoilt for me. I like the odd privacy of the art gallery, seeing how Finnish painters have a different idea of light, or gazing at the Harlem Renaissance paintings when they were brought over to London.

Jackie Kay's first novel is `Trumpet' (Picador, pounds 12.99)

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