Photo of authorAlan Hill grew up in Birmingham, where he was born in the same year as the Reichstag fire. He has worked in various fields of education in several parts of England and Scotland, and now lives in Edinburgh.

He began seriously trying to write verse in his mid-thirties, when he published poems in magazines and journals. A pamphlet collection, The Green Tide, appeared from Rivelin Press in 1975.

Although he continued to write, he published very little more until after he retired, when he had time to put together a further collection, To Rocamadour (Redbeck Press), in 2001.

Quite early on, he encountered Japanese verse in translation. He found the tanka form, adapted to an English idiom, offered a means of capturing sharply felt moments, insights and responses, briefly but with a sense of completeness. Often, in a busy professional life, they were the only thing he had time to write, though he still writes them because 'they concentrate the mind wonderfully'.

Following Gerontion, his latest tanka collection on old age, he describes himself as an old man in a hurry, with more projects in the pipeline than ever. Having just completed a themed treatment on a feature of Edinburgh (with pictures, he hopes), he is preparing to assemble a follow-up to his 2005 collection To Rocamadour, is working on an experimental use of the idea of preludes and fugues, is re-shaping another themed tanka collection, and can’t stop writing a new style of ill-tempered and scurrilous tanka (Cantankerours tanka). All he needs, he says, is to survive long enough to complete it all.



Gerontion, HappenStance (a book of tanka on the theme of age and ageing), 2016

No Biography, HappenStance 2010