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Tom Pow (1950-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1950, in Edinburgh, Scotland; Education: University of St. Andrews, M.A. (with honors), 1972; attended Aberdeen College of Education, 1972-73.


Office—University of Glasgow, Crichton Campus, Room 225, Rutherford Building, Dumfries DG1 4ZL, Scotland.


Educator and author. Dumfries Academy, Dumfries, Scotland, assistant principal and English teacher; writer. In Verse (television program), interviewer; Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival, co-founder; Cacafeugo Press, co-founder. Glasgow University, Crichton Campus, Dumfries, senior lecturer and head of creative and cultural studies, 2000—. Writer-in-residence, Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2001-03


Scotch Malt Whiskey Association.

Honors Awards

Scottish Arts Council Book Award, 1987, for Rough Seas, and 2004, for Landscapes and Legacies; Scottish Arts Council writer's bursary, 1988, 1997, 2003; Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award, and Scottish Arts Council Book Award, both 1990, both for The Moth Trap; TESS Educational Publications Award, 1995, for Shouting It Out: Stories from Contemporary Scotland; Scottish Arts Council Children's Book of the Year Award, 2001, for Who Is the World For?; Hawthornden fellowship, 2002.


An Edinburgh Portrait (poetry), privately printed (Dumfries, Scotland), 1984.

The Moth Trap (poetry), illustrated by Jonathan Gibbs, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1990.

In the Palace of Serpents: An Experience of Peru, Canongate (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1992.

National Poetry Day, 6 October 1994, Readiscovery (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1994.

(Editor) Shouting It Out: Stories from Contemporary Scotland, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1995.

Red Letter Day (poetry), Bloodaxe Books (Newcastle upon Tyne, England), 1996.

Landscapes: A Sequence of Poems, illustrated by Hugh Bryden, Cacafuego Press (Dumfries, Scotland), 1999.

(Author of introduction) Donald MacIntosh, Travels in Galloway, Neil Wilson (Glasgow, Scotland), 1999.

Who Is the World For?, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Callum's Big Day, illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick, Inyx (Aberdour, Fife, Scotland), 2001.

Landscapes and Legacies, Iynx (Aberdour, Fife, Scotland), 2003.

Scabbit Isle (stories), Corgi (London, England), 2003.

Tell Me One Thing, Dad, illustrated by Ian Andrew, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

The Pack (young-adult novel), Definitions (London, England)2004.

Author's works have been translated into several languages, including Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Welsh.


Scottish writer Tom Pow has distinguished himself as a poet and playwright, in addition to being a senior lecturer in English at the University of Glasgow. Pow, whose work has been honored with awards and fellowships, has also turned his focus to children's books in 1997. As he explained on ContemporaryWriters.com: "Poetry has been, since the age of eighteen, how I explore what it means for me to be alive. It is my way of being in the world. However, if poetry has given me my most intense experience of language, I have also enjoyed the different challenges of a range of other genres—from picture books to art books." Pow's titles for younger readers include Tell Me One Thing, Dad and Who Is the World For?

In Tell Me One Thing, Dad Pow explores the love between a parent and child. As young Molly prepares for bed one evening she asks her father a series of questions about various creatures and their love for their offspring. "The familiar picture-book emotion—the love a parent feels for a child—gets new life in this wonderfully illustrated offering," commented Ilene Cooper in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly critic also enjoyed the book, stating that "The magical rapport between fathers and their young daughters takes wonderful form in Pow's text, … and the lighthearted imagination of [Ian] Andrew's crisply outlined, muted-tone watercolors."

In Who Is the World For? a young boy's father explains that Earth was created not just for one species, but for all. Once again set against soft, double-page watercolor illustrations, Pow's text presents young children with a thought-provoking work: a "gentle ode" reflecting "the understanding that nature is … a resource to respect, not exploit," according to Lynne T. Burke in a review for Reading Today. Shelley Townsend-Hudson noted in Booklist that Robert Ingpen's "naturalistic illustrations have a texture and glowing golden light that are ideal for this lovely poem, which asks us to slow down, ponder the imagery, and savor time together." A Publishers Weekly critic also enjoyed Pow's book, commenting that "the visual cadence of Ingpen's artwork reflects the graceful nuances of the text" and dubbing Who Is the World For? "a lovely book with a subtle environmental message."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, December 15, 2000, Shelley Townsend-Hudson, review of Who Is the World For?, p. 829; April 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Tell Me One Thing, Dad, p. 1365.

Publishers Weekly, October 30, 2000, review of Who Is the World For?, p. 75; May 3, 2004, review of Tell Me One Thing, Dad, p. 190.

Reading Today, June, 2001, Lynne T. Burke review of Who Is the World For?, p. 32.

School Library Journal, January, 2001, Wendy Lukehart, review of Who Is the World For?, p. 107; June, 2004, Jane Barrer, review of Tell Me One Thing, Dad, p. 116.


Contemporary Writers Web site, http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (July 6, 2005), "Tom Pow."

University of Glasgow Web site, http://www.cc.gla.ac.uk/ (July 6, 2005).

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Jan Peck Biography - Personal to David Randall (1972–) Biography - Personal