A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Scots Makar leads pledge support for Keep the Heid and Read!

Keep the Heid and Read! online totaliser launched to capture Scotland-wide support

Scotland’s Makar, Kathleen Jamie, is one of the first people in the country to pledge their support for the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, which launched today (Mon 11 Apr).

Joining some of the country’s most influential individuals and organisations, including the Institute of Directors and the SPFL Trust, in pledging to take part in the ‘national reading moment’ on Wednesday 11 May, the Makar was happy to help drive awareness of the project.

The Scotland-wide initiative, led by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and with support from Baillie Gifford, aims to inspire and encourage people of all ages and abilities to read every day to boost their mental health and wellbeing – starting with a pledge to read for just six minutes on11 May.

Research shows that reading for six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68 per cent – in people of all ages.  With the national reading moment due to take place during Mental Health Week 2022 (9-15 May 2022), the campaign signals the perfect opportunity to take stock and establish a regular reading habit.

Kathleen Jamie, the national poet for Scotland (2021-2024), said: “Our local libraries are full of great reading material – books of course, but also comics and pamphlets of poetry, so they are the perfect places to release the imagination, whatever your ability and interests.

“Reading for pleasure can have a huge impact on our wellbeing.  I read every day, often early in the morning to set me up for the day, so I’m glad to support the Keep the Heid and Read campaign.  I’ve pledged my six minutes of reading on 11 May and would encourage everyone else to do the same.”

An online totaliser, capturing the number of reading minutes pledged towards the national reading moment, is available at: www.keeptheheid.scot.

Speaking about the inspiration behind the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign, Pamela Tulloch, chief executive at SLIC, said: “This campaign was designed to promote the positive and easy-to-implement changes which can help increase mental health and wellbeing, and highlight the part local libraries can play in that process.

“We believe starting with a simple pledge to read for just six minutes on 11 May will help inspire people to take forward these good habits in their everyday lives.”

Working in partnership with Scotland’s 32 public library services, SLIC hopes the free to use services across Scotland will encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the Keep the Heid and Read! campaign.

Pamela added: “Libraries play a valuable role in reconnecting communities and with the majority of libraries now reopened across Scotland after the pandemic – all with an abundance of free reading materials available – we hope these services will allow people all over Scotland to take part in the national reading moment.”

Individuals and groups, such as schools and workplaces, are invited to sign up now to get involved at www.keeptheheid.scot, and add to the totaliser count. Gaelic translated ‘Na bi ga do chall fhèin, leugh!’ campaign materials are also available in full.  Keep up-to-date and share your support using #keeptheheid on social media.


For media enquiries please email SLIC@3×1.com or call  0141 221 0707.

Reproduced from the SLIC press release.




April 11, 2022

Kathleen Jamie appointed as Scotland’s new Makar

Huge congratulations to poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie who has been appointed as Scotland’s next Makar.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon formally welcomed her to the role at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.

The role of Makar involves taking a leadership role in promoting poetry nationally, as well as producing work relating to significant national events.

Ms Jamie was appointed by the First Minister for a three-year term on the recommendation of an expert panel representing Scotland’s literary sector.

She is the fourth person to hold the role since it was established by the Scottish Parliament in 2004, following in the footsteps of Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, and Edwin Morgan.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to confirm Kathleen Jamie as our national poet.

“Poetry is integral to Scotland’s culture and history. The Makar has a central role in celebrating that legacy, and preserving its future by encouraging the next generation of young writers to leave their mark.

“Kathleen is a highly accomplished poet who is known for her works in English and Scots, and the meaningful connections her writing draws between our lives and the landscape around us. I have no doubt she will continue to build on the exceptional work of her predecessors to promote Scottish poetry both here and abroad.”

Kathleen Jamie said: I am honoured and delighted to be appointed as Scotland’s new Makar. The post confirms a weel-kent truth: that poetry abides at the heart of Scottish culture, in all our languages, old and new. It’s mysterious, undefinable and bold. It runs deep and sparkles at once.

“Liz Lochhead, Jackie Kay and the late Edwin Morgan have held this post before me, a trio of major poets. If I can achieve half of their outreach, humour and wisdom, not to mention their wonderful verse, I’ll be doing well. I am grateful to the selection panel for such a vote of confidence in my work, and to the First Minister for her endorsement and support.

“My task as I see it is to meet folk, to support and encourage poetry, to laugh and lament and witness, and occasionally speak to our national life. I’m excited to begin.”

Asif Khan, Director at Scottish Poetry Library said: “Kathleen Jamie is a generational talent – an exceptional Scottish writer of any era. Jamie’s poetry and prose sits with the best writing in English anywhere in the world. The poetry library looks forward to supporting the new Makar’s programme of engagement at a time when poetry is treasured as an art form that can heal and unite communities, as well as inspire our young people, including New Scots, to see the world differently and reflect on their role in it.”

Alan Bett, Head of Literature & Publishing at Creative Scotland said: “Kathleen Jamie is an excellent choice for The Makar, Scotland’s national poet. The quality of her work speaks for itself, and that work can and will speak to so many people across Scotland and beyond. The work can also speak to and challenge the current environmental context, with a strong focus on place and nature. I would like to offer my warm congratulations to Kathleen on this announcement and look forward to the creative projects that will connect her poetry with the nation.”


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s selection process involved an Expert Panel being commissioned by the Scottish Government to agree a shortlist for this year’s selection and put a single nomination forward to the First Minister for endorsement.

At the panel’s recommendation, the appointment was made for a three-year term rather than the previous five-year term as it has been for the past two appointments due to the demands the role places on the Makar’s time and other work, and to help encourage greater diversity, variety and interest in the role going forward.

This appointment process will be reviewed to ensure that it remains fit for the future.

The Expert Panel comprised the following members:

  • David Seers, Head of Sponsorship & Funding Team, Culture & Historic Environment Division, Scottish Government, (Chair)
  • Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing, Creative Scotland
  • Jackie Cromarty, Associate Director of External Relations, National Library of Scotland
  • Dr David Goldie, President, Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Peggy Hughes, Chair, Literature Alliance Scotland
  • Eleanor Livingstone, Former Festival Director, StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival
  • Marjorie Lotfi, Poet, Director of Open Book and Chair of Board of Trustees, Wigtown Book Festival
  • Dr Robyn Marsack, Independent Advisor, Editor, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library 2000-2016
  • Dr Peter Mackay, Lecturer in English, University of St Andrews and poet who writes in Gaelic
  • Michael Pedersen, Poet and Poetry Programmer, Neu Reekie
  • Charlie Roy, Co-Chair, Scottish Poetry Library

Original press release: https://www.gov.scot/news/new-scots-makar/

August 18, 2021