MY JAPAN: Reflections on publishing poetry and novels on Japan

Professor Alan Spence

Professor Alan Spence is an internationally recognized poet, playwright and novelist and Professor Emeritus in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen. In 2017 he was appointed Edinburgh Makar (Poet Laureate) and in 2018 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his work on Japan.  

Alan will discuss his two Japan-based novels Pure Land (on Thomas Glover) and Night Boat (a fictional re-creation of the life and teachings of the 18th century Zen master Ekaku Hakuin) as well as his recent research trip to Japan gathering materials for his new novel Mister Timeless Blyth (Reginald Horace Blyth was an English author and devotee of Japanese culture, most famous for his writings on Zen and on haiku poetry).  Alan will also discuss and give some readings on his own Haiku.

Here is an update on Alan’s new works. 

Two new poetry collections recently published:

Thirteen ways of looking at tulips – Renaissance Press (Thirteen tulip haiku with illustrations by Elizabeth Blackadder). 

Edinburgh Come All Ye – Scotland Street Press (Poems from my four years as Edinburgh Makar, with illustrations by Victoria Crowe, Alison Watt, Calum Colvin and others). 

His new novel, Mister Timeless Blyth, will be published by Tuttle in March.  (Cover attached).

Current publications

The meeting on Monday 21st November was our first ‘live’ event for some time since Covid and we were not disappointed. Members and guests, including a Zoom audience, enjoyed listening to Professor Alan Spence, one of Scotland’s leading literary figures, explaining his love of Japan and Zen and how he developed these alongside his love of literature. We were especially entertained by renditions of his “Haiku”. Of particular interest were his Haiku collaborations, beautifully illustrated by the late Elizabeth Blackadder. Now we eagerly await his third fictional novel on Japan, to be published by Tuttle Press in March 2023.

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