Alan is an award-winning poet and playwright, novelist and short story writer. Appointed Edinburgh Makar in 2017, he is also Professor Emeritus in Creative Writing at University of Aberdeen and founded WORD Festival in 1999, running it for 12 years. He has a special interest in Japan; he has published books of haiku, two novels set in Japan and a third in progress. Alan received the Order of the Rising Sun from Japanese Government in 2018.
Alan is an experienced reader and performer of his own work, and has undertaken collaborations with artists and musicians. His most recent works are the novel Night Boat, poetry collection Morning Glory, and play No Nothing.