Tom Pow

Tom Pow was born in Edinburgh in 1950. Primarily a poet, several of his collections have won awards and three of his poetry collections have been short-listed for Scottish Book of the Year. Most recently, Dear Alice – Narratives of Madness (Salt Publishing) won the poetry category in the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust’s Scottish Book Awards in 2009. He has also written young adult novels, picture books, radio plays and a travel book about Peru.

He has held various writing posts, including that of Scottish/Canadian Writing Fellow, based at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and Virtual Writer in Residence (Scotland’s first) for the Scottish Library Association’s Scottish Writers Project. He was the first ever Writer in Residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival from 2001 to 2003. From 2000 to 2009, he worked for the University of Glasgow in Dumfries, latterly as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Storytelling. Tom is currently Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University Dumfries and a part-time lecturer on Lancaster University’s distance learning Masters in Creative Writing.

Tom’s website:

Tom Pow is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact

Books by Tom


Galileo Publishing, May 2021 Naranjas is Tom Pow’s first full collection, since the thematic explorations of Dear Alice: Narratives of Madness (2009), A Wild Adventure: Thomas Watling, Dumfries Convict Forger (2014) and Concerning the Atlas of Scotland (2014). Like all his work, the poems here are imprinted with landscapes, relationships and memories, but they also show how encounters with paintings, with reading and with history, through imaginative sympathy, can be transformed into personal lived experiences. The publication of Naranjas, marking Pow’s seventieth year, shows him still writing poems “alive to the sounds, smells, noises and ironies of life,” as Jim Burns commented of Red Letter Day (1996) in Ambit. But there is an urgency underlying the poems in this present work, as they seek better to understand how people live “in the green bone-yards of our world”.

Scabbit Isle

Corgi Children’s, January 2015

The first time Sam sees the mysterious figure of Janet she vanishes into the deserted fields beyond the town where nothing has ever been built. Sam learns that centuries before this was the place to which plague victims were banished – Scabbit Isle – a place of terror. With the help of Mr Carruthers, the old curator of the local museum, Sam gradually uncovers the horror of Janet’s story – consigned to Scabbit Isle by her cruel father and abandoned by her weak lover, Janet suffers without hope. She will continue to do so, if she can’t find someone who, for love, will risk all to enter the plague colony to release her. Janet seems to be beckoning Sam to help her and a tragedy within Sam’s own family brings Sam even closer to Janet’s fate. Janet is the same age that Sam’s twin sister Alice would have been had she not been killed in an accident. It is a loss from which Sam’s father, in particular, has never recovered. Can Sam summon up the courage to face the terrors of Scabbit Isle and, like Orpheus, venture into the underworld to bring Janet peace?

Praise for Scabbit Isle

Three strands of narrative are pleasingly woven together in this gentle and moving short novel
The School Librarian

This book is a rich and humbling experience on many levels


A Wild Adventure

Polygon, June 2014 Tom Pow’s beautiful, powerful poems examine the remarkable life of Thomas Watling. Watling was born in Dumfries in September 1762 and raised by a long-suffering maiden aunt. Convicted of forging Bank of Scotland one-guinea notes he was sentenced to fourteen years in the recently founded colony of Botany Bay in Australia. The first professional artist to arrive in the colony, Watling was seconded to its Surgeon General (and amateur naturalist) John White. His pioneer paintings of birds, animals and the landscape became some of the principal records of the earliest days of Australia. He was eventually pardoned, on 5 April 1797, and left Australia, eventually returning home to Dumfries. He died there, most likely in 1814.

Concerning the Atlas of Scotland: And Other Poems

Polygon, August 2014 Tom Pow spent six months as writer in residence at the National Library of Scotland Map Library in Edinburgh. He was so inspired by the collection that they hold and by the stories that they tell that he wrote a collection of poetry based on that experience. Published by Polygon but with input from the National Library and illustrated with details from the collection, this beautiful and quite haunting collection will be welcomed by map lovers as well as poetry lovers. Praise for Concerning the Atlas of Scotland This beautiful and quite haunting collection will be welcomed by map lovers as well as poetry lovers Cairt

In Another World

Polygon, June 2012

In one of the great defining moments in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas, and the effects of this depopulation and the plummeting birth-rate are being felt keenly throughout Europe, which has the fastest-declining population in the world. Tom Pow sets out to explore what this means in some of the most rapidly vanishing areas of Europe. From Spain to Russia, he uses the tools of his trade – travelogue, essay, story and poem – to make connections, not only with what he encounters in numerous dying villages, but to reflect on his own experiences of memory, identity and loss. In Another World is an open book: not an argument, but an invitation to remember, to reflect and to engage with one of the most significant social issues affecting Europe today.

Praise for In Another World

Through essays, photos, stories and poems, Pow eloquently charts the decline of Europe’s rural life
Financial Times

What could so easily have teetered towards a study weighed down by quotations and statistical analysis gleaned from his sources, is throughout a limber, engaging and enervated quest
The Scotsman