Jackie Kay: 'My son still throws magic dust on my head before a reading'
When you're adopted you can have a strange romance with your birth parents My adoptive mother used to say about my birth father, "I'm picturing this Sidney Poitier figure, with a bit of Nelson Mandela mixed in." But then a dose of reality slapped me in the face when I travelled to Nigeria and met him: he was much smaller than I thought and was a religious extremist. It gives me goose bumps to consider how I might have been.
I didn't feel like I fitted in when I was growing up Even now people ask me, "Where are you from?" It gets very boring. I said to a woman the other day, "You're from Glasgow, aren't you?" And she said "Aye, how did you know that?" I said, "I'm from Glasgow myself," and she looked at me and said, "Yer not, are ye? You're a foreign-looking bugger!" [Though Glaswegian, Kay currently lives in Manchester.]
Poetry is much more portable than prose I have to be stationary, in my attic, to write prose, but poetry I can do on the move. But you can't force it to happen, it depends more on inspiration. It feels like I'm using a different side of my brain for each.
Writers are more superstitious than footballers If I'm about to do a reading and my son's around, he throws [imaginary] magic dust on my head, which he's done since he's been a little boy. He's 23 now and I'm still addicted to Matthew's magic dust.
I like reading stats and bending them to my own vices I read a few days ago that if you're cheerful it extends your life by seven years, and the effects of being cheerful can have an even stronger impact on your health than the negative effects on smoking and drinking. So I'm going to smoke five ciggies and drink a bottle of wine a day and be cheerful!
Kindness makes the world go around A simple act of kindness from a stranger can lift the spirits. I was in a library recently and a woman who happened to have a copy of my new book in her hand recognised me. She was looking for a poem to read at her sister's funeral, so I asked whether she'd like me to record a reading to play at the funeral.
Jackie Kay, 50, is an award-winning novelist and poet. 'Fiere', published by Picador, has been shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Poetry Award
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...