Scots Makar: Who appoints the National Poet for Scotland, duties, pay, length of service, previous appointees

Four talented poets have taken on the role of Scotland's Makar to date.

Kathleen Jamie was unveiled as the new Makar at the Scottish Poetry Library in 2021. Picture: Robert Perry/PA WireKathleen Jamie was unveiled as the new Makar at the Scottish Poetry Library in 2021. Picture: Robert Perry/PA Wire
Kathleen Jamie was unveiled as the new Makar at the Scottish Poetry Library in 2021. Picture: Robert Perry/PA Wire

The position of Scots Makar was first created in Febraury 2004, taking its name from the Scots workd for the author of a literary work.

Announcing the role, the then First Minister Jack McConnell explained: "It is vitally important that we recognise the significant contribution of poetry to the culture of Scotland. This position will symbolise the success and of Scottish poets in the past and the potential of Scottish poetry in the future. I hope that the Scots Makar will inspire young Scots to enjoy, and indeed to write, poetry."

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Since then it has become a fixture in Scotland's literary landscape, with poems marking special moments in country's history, starting with Edwin Morgan's 'For the Opening of the Scottish Parliament, 9 October 2004'.

Here's everything you need to know about the position of the National Poet For Scotland.

Who is the current Maker?

In 2021 Kathleen Jamie became Scotland's fourth Makar. She grew up in Currie, just outside Edinburgh, and studied philosophy at Edinburgh where she became a published poet. She has won numerous awards - both for poetry and her essays - including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Costa Prize Poetry Award, the John Burroughs Medal, the Orion Book Award, and the Saltire Society book of the year award. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Jamie's poem 'Here Lies Our Land' is inscribed on the Bannockburn Memorial.

Who appoints the Makar?

Scotland's Makar is appointed bgy the Scottish Government, who act on the recomendation of a panel of experts drawn from Scotland's literary sector. The panel members who recommended to the First Minister that Kathleen Jamie should be the latest Maker were a follows:

  • David Seers, Head of Sponsorship and Funding Team, Culture and 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 Poetry Festival
  • Marjorie Lotfi, Poet, Director of Open Book and Chair of Board of Trustees, Wigtown Book Festival
  • Dr Robyn Marsack, former Director of the Scottish Poetry Library
  • Dr Peter Mackay, Lecturer in English, University of St Andrews and poet
  • Michael Pedersen, Poet and Poetry Programmer, Neu!Reekie!

How long does the Makar serve for?

When the role was first created the term of the makar was five year, but this has since been reduced to three years.This means that a new Makar will be appointed next year, in 2024.

How much does the Makar get paid?

The Makar recieves a stipend of £15,000 per year - so a total of £45,000 over the three year appointment. This is designed to offer recompense for the time spent writing and attending events.

Who were the previous Makars?

Prior to Kathleen Jamie, there have been three previous Scottish Makars - namely Edwin Morgan (2004-2010), Liz Lochhead (2011-2016), and Jackie Kay (2016-2021).

What are the Makar's responsibilities?

The Scottish Government expects the following of Scotland's Makar:

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