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Fiere by Jackie Kay


by Jackie Kay

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The Scottish poet Jackie Kay writes beautiful poetry. Her poetry is modern, but written in a quiet and pleasant style, with various forms of rhyme; many of her poems have a natural rhythm, and repetition gives some the characteristics of a ballad. Kay's poetry is recognizable and accessible to a large audience.

The poems in Fiere, published in 2011, is her sixth volume of published poetry. The poems in this collection are inspired by friendship in all variety of relations. There are also some poems written alongside Kay's memoir Red dust road, which describes her search for her father in Africa.

The title of the collection, Fiere derives from archaic English or Scottish Gaelic:

Fere, feare, feer, fiere or pheere (archaic)
noun: a companion, a mate, a spouse, an equal

Fere (Scot.)
adj: able, sound

Some of the poems are in Scottish Gaelic, such as the first, with the title Fiere which was commissioned by the Scottish Poetry Library, and which was composed in response to a poem by Robert Burns.

One of the two epigraphs to the collection is from Burns:

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere
And gie's a hand o' thine

Robert Burns

the other epigraph reads:

Wherever someone stands,
something else will stand beside it.

Chinua Achebe


If ye went tae the tapmost hill, Fiere
Whaur we used tae clamb as girls,
Ye’d see the snow the day, Fiere,
Settling on the hills.
You’d mind o’ anither day, mibbe,
We ran doon the hill in the snow,
Sliding and singing oor way tae the foot,
Lassies laughing thegither – how braw.
The years slipping awa; oot in the weather.

And noo we’re suddenly auld, Fiere,
Oor friendship’s ne’er been weary.
We’ve aye seen the wurld differently.
Whaur would I hae been weyoot my jo,
My fiere, my fiercy, my dearie O?
Oor hair micht be silver noo,
Oor walk a wee bit doddery,
But we’ve had a whirl and a blast, girl,
Thru’ the cauld blast winter, thru spring, summer.

O’er a lifetime, my fiere, my bonnie lassie,
I’d defend you – you, me; blithe and blatter,
Here we gang doon the hill, nae matter,
Past the bracken, bothy, bonny braes, barley.
Oot by the roaring Sea, still havin a blether.
We who loved sincerely; we who loved sae fiercely.
The snow ne’er looked sae barrie,
Nor the winter trees sae pretty.
C’mon, c’mon my dearie – tak my hand, my fiere!

Perhaps the following poem is perhaps the world’s first (published) epithalamion on the occasion of a gay marriage.

The Marriage of Nick and Edward

When you get home from your wedding, dear boys,
And you’ve exchanged your plain and beautiful bands
—rose-gold with platinum for Nick,
rose-gold with gold for Edward—
and held together your handsome hands,
and kissed, and pledged a life of happiness,
I suggest you get out the Quaich,
your special two-handled drinking bowl—
made of pewter; for your gifted future—
and pour some Hallelujah into the loving cup
and knock back the rose-gold liquid
and drink up, drink up, drink up!

Here are your years stretching ahead,
and the rose-gold love of the newly wed. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Jan 3, 2013 |
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Jackie Kay's latest collection of poems is inspired by the journey she undertook to write her memoir, 'Red Dust Road'. Her new poems explore what it means to have roots, specifically roots in different cultures - with old Scots and modern Scots alongside poems inspired by Ibo dialect, and poems inspired by African and European art.… (more)

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