Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015)

Jackie Kay by Claudia Alonso (2015) University of Salford Art Collection

‘What key is it Robbie?’ – New Poem by Chancellor Jackie Kay

Professor Jackie Kay CBE, University Chancellor and Scots Makar, is sharing a series of poems with colleagues, students and members of the public, reflecting on the current period of uncertainty that we are in.

Jackie’s sixth poem ‘What Key Is It Robbie?’ is about finding comfort in music during these unprecedented times.


‘What Key Is It Robbie?’

The bagpipers of Bishopbriggs play Scotland the Brave
Pipers from Japan, Spain, Canada, the US,
Lung to lung, deep breaths. This should be saved.

We clap the carers, the nurses, the NHS.
The soprano’s voice on the Italian balcony
Rises to Bocelli’s Time to say Goodbye

I weep at the parody of Bohemian Rhapsody!
Dance to Kidjo’s new No Pata Pata, aye.
Greet at my mum’s I’m no awa tae bide awa!

Tears-clefs! A world-music stay-at-home fest, new songs
Livestreamed; the shy, Chorlton-based Badly Drawn Boy;
What key is it Robbie Ringo asks on the phone?

The Weight of the world’s musicians on my heart strings.
What Crazy Rhythm with Julian and the BBC Philharmonic!
What a beauty – Celeste’s Lean on Me, The Big Night In

Or Star One and my son playing Bill Withers again
After Mr Vegas’s I’m blessed. A toast! Music’s the tonic.

Copyright Jackie Kay. Reprinted with kind permission from the author

Don’t miss Jackie’s new weekly series of online literary and musical performances which launches on Thursday 14 May at 7.00pm. ‘Makar to Makar’ will showcase a line-up of established talent and emerging voices from Scotland and around the world. Read more about ‘Makar to Makar’ here.

Follow Jackie on Twitter @JackieKayPoet to hear a new poem every Sunday.