In A Time of Distance & Other Poems

In A Time of Distance & Other Poems

ISBN: 9780593315989
Publisher: Pantheon (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 12 April 2022

What really counts in this life? For the writer, Alexander McCall Smith, it is friendship and love – themes that crop up time and again in his novels. And it is these themes that he explores in this collection of poems.

In this book, divided into nine sections, the author takes you on a journey across the globe from Africa to Greece, London to Mumbai, and back home to Edinburgh. In a Time of Distance is a captivating celebration of place and people, but also of animals and books. Looking at the world through the lens of this writer it is a better, more humane place. Throughout these poems there are moments of swoop and soar, descriptions that will make you laugh and realign your view. In this collection, Alexander McCall Smith reminds us to look at the world differently, to stop once in while and look up at the sky.

This collection has a quiet and fragile beauty. The title poem reached hundreds of thousands of people when it was posted on social media in March 2020. It was also read on BBC Radio 4 and thereafter it appeared on blogs and websites across the world. It touched the hearts of all of those struggling to comprehend the bewildering situation in which the peoples of the world found themselves.

The book is illustrated by Iain McIntosh who has illustrated many of Alexander’s books, including the much-loved 44 Scotland Street series.


‘a beautiful meditation..a wonderful book… these poems would make you love a writer whose optimism and grace gives you hope for the world, “its beauty revealed afresh”
Daily Mail
‘His poetic voice is conversational, companionable, friendly. A “maker of beautiful books,” he writes, “understands that text/ should whisper to us its message,/ Like a confiding friend,/Not in the trumpet tones/ Of the strident, the polemical/ But gently, tactfully/ In the private places of exchange/ Where the loud and the angry/ Have no wish to linger.”  It is such books, books like this one, that in a time of strident and dishonest polemics readers should attend to with a feeling ear’
Allan Massie, The Scotsman
‘The many admirers of the fiction of Alexander McCall Smith will be totally charmed by a book of poems he has produced. He reveals the same genial, quietly wise persona, whether offering gentle philosophy about life, writing about the seven hills of Edinburgh or running an elegant series of sonnets’
The Herald
‘This collection is a joyous affirmation of his infatuation with the form, delivered in his trademark, genial conversational style. [An] accessible and highly enjoyable collection – FIVE STARS’
Scottish Field