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Liz Lochhead: ‘You’re stuck writing something until you go, “To hell with it, I’ll tell the truth”’

The books interview: the new Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry winner on learning how to be a Scottish writer and why becoming the national poet saved her life

Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies. Fabulous prose, real characters, great humour, so much research. This woman is an inspiration

Sharon Olds: 'I want a poem to be useful'

Sharon Olds: 'I want a poem to be useful' The celebrated American poet on her abusive childhood, the end of her marriage and writing about pain

Jeanette Winterson on Time, Language, Reading, and How Art Creates a Sanctified Space for the Human Spirit

“Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.”…

JACKIE KAY was an adopted child of Scottish/Nigerian descent brought up by white parents in Glasgow, a heritage she explored in Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her natural parents. She is one of Britain’s best-known poets, appearing frequently on radio and TV programmes on poetry and culture. She has won the Signal Poetry Award, the Guardian Fiction Prize and was the British Book Awards Decibel Writer of the Year for her collection of short stories Wish I Was Here.

50 Essential Books of Poetry That Everyone Should Read

John Donne as a young man , c.1595 , artist unknown , Collection of the National Portrait Gallery , London.