Alan Spence put forward as new Edinburgh Makar

Alan Spence put forward as new Edinburgh Makar

September 8, 2017

Christine De Luca, the current Edinburgh Makar, will soon be passing on the title to another literary fellow this year. A report to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Culture and Communities Committee recommends Spence as the next writer to be inaugurated.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said:

Alan Spence is an accomplished and highly-regarded writer whose work often features a hint of Scottish wit and shines with beautiful observations and revelations.

He is the fifth addition to an illustrious group of writers who have filled this important role in Edinburgh – the original City of Literature. Each writer has enthralled and benefited the city with their talent and Alan is an excellent choice.

Alan Spence is a highly respected poet, playwright, and novelist, who lives in Edinburgh. He taught creative writing at the University of Aberdeen for nearly 20 years, and his writing spans many genres and themes. His most recent novel is Night Boat, published by Canongate, and is based on the life of Zen master Hakuin.

Alan Spence said:

I am delighted and honoured to be nominated as the fifth Edinburgh Makar, the Poet Laureate for this wonderful city that has been my home for over 40 years.

I look forward to following in the footsteps of my illustrious predecessors, Stewart Conn, Valerie Gillies, Ron Butlin and Christine De Luca. I know them all and they’re fine poets who have done a great job. We live in troubled times and poetry has never been so important.”

The current Makar, Christine De Luca, has held the post since 2014, has undertaken more than 200 engagements, readings, commissions and talks. Her topics of writing have spanned Edinburgh’s Festivals, Museums, the Scottish Independence Referendum, Edinburgh’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature and the lives of Eduardo Paolozzi, jazz musicians, and Edinburgh Award recipients Tom Gilzean, Tom Farmer and Ken Buchanan. She has held poetry writing workshops with Edinburgh’s schools, and visited a variety of destinations to progress and promote her role – from Krakow and Florence to Edinburgh’s own sewage treatment centre in Seafield, as part of a series celebrating Edinburgh’s unsung heroes.

Christine De Luca said: 

I am delighted that Alan Spence is to be our next Makar.  Besides being a wonderful writer, he is out-going and generous-hearted.  I’m sure he’ll take the role in fascinating new directions.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as the Edinburgh Makar and found nothing but support from the Council and its staff and from the other organisations supporting the role. Local poets too have been hugely encouraging and have willingly taken part in a range of projects

The Edinburgh Makar is a civic post instituted in 2002 by the City of Edinburgh Council. The writer is selected and nominated by representatives of the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish PEN, The Salite Society, Edinburgh City of Literature Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council.

The meaning of the Scots word Makar stresses the role of the poet or author as a skilled and versatile worker in the craft of writing. Edinburgh has always been a literary city, and to celebrate the iportance of writers in the Capital the Council continues to show its commiutment to the promotion of witers and literary projects, which enhance Edinburgh’s international reputation, includig the post of the Edinburgh Makar.

The first appointed Makar was Stewart Conn, followed in 2005 by Valerie Gillies, and in 2008 and again in 2011 for a second term, Ron Butlin. In 2009, the Edinburgh Makars’ plaque was erected in the City Chambers to honour the list of postholders who have been welcomed to the role. Christine De Luca is the fourth Edinburgh Makar.