ALAN SPENCE is an award-winning poet and playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was born in Glasgow and is based in Edinburgh where he and his wife run the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre. For almost 20 years he taught Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen where he founded the hugely successful WORD Festival, and where he is now Emeritus Professor.

His most recent novel is Night Boat (Canongate) based on the life of Zen master Hakuin.

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Alan's latest play is No Nothing, a joint production by Glasgow Lunchtime Theatre and Aberdeen Performing Arts. It was performed at Òran Mór in Glasgow and The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, and the script is published by Aberdeen University Press.

In the play two iconic Glasgow figures - poet Edwin Morgan and trade union leader Jimmy Reid - died within days of each other in 2010. They are astonished to wake up in a strange afterlife anteroom where they engage in a flyting about life, the Universe and everything - from Glasgow to infinity and beyond (with meditations on post-referendum Scotland).

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This year, in celebration of the new foyers at Theatre Royal, Scottish Opera commissioned twelve writers to each create a poem.
A series of post cards was issued to go with the event. Alan's poem 'Un Bel Di' (One Fine Day) is reproduced below.

click to read about Scottish Opera's '12 poets for 12 months' project
(One Fine Day)

This time I tell myself I will not cry.
I will not let Puccini rip the heart
right out of me, won't let poor Butterfly
undo me utterly, I'll stay apart
above it all, in this gilded circle
up in the gods, beyond the world of things
enjoy the passing show, the spectacle,
and not be caught by it. But then she sings.
We all wait for the night to pass, the dawn
to break, we all stand on the same shore,
looking for that ship on the horizon,
the plume of smoke that signals hope once more.
She sings it. Un bel di...And it's no use -
I weep for everything I love and lose.

Alan Spence
Fiction: click each cover for web link
ItsColours flute
Its Colours
They Are Fine
The Magic Flute
Stone Garden
Way to Go
The Pure Land
Night Boat
Night Boat
Haiku and other Poetry: click ...
Glasgow Zen
Seasons of
the Heart
with Alison Watt
Clear Light
Morning Glory
with Dame Elizabeth
Blackadder - 2010
Plays: click ...
The Three Estaites
Space Invaders
On the Line
not in print
Changed Days
No Nothing
from 'Seasons of the Heart' from 'Clear Light' from 'Morning Glory' from 'Glasgow Zen'
a tree on fire
against the blazing
sunset sky
autumn night
the unanswered phone
in the next room
so cold
tying my shoelaces
with my gloved hands
glasgow's full of poets
five foot two
drink irn bru
a single cloud
and its shadow
on the flat blue sea

short cold dark day -
shop empty, the barber
cuts his own hair

in silence,
out of the falling snow,
a swan, flying
disnae matter
how ye look at it
ma heid's caud
the door bangs back
on its hinges
and in come the leaves
the early dark -
an empty wheelchair
outside a pub
another birthday
never mind the cold
fling the window open
nights drawin' in
patchin' ma auld claes -
dae me another year
statue of christ
behind his head -
butterfly open its wings
borrowed landscape -
the distant hills
framed in the window
footballers training
in the autumn rain
new season

sat up waitin' for ye -
mind where ah live?
well then

Sri Chinmoy

University of Aberdeen
WORD Festival

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