In 2002 the City of Edinburgh instituted the post of Edinburgh Makar. This is a civic appointment, selected by representatives of the Scottish Poetry Library, Scottish PEN, The Saltire Society, City of Literature Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council.
Nominees must be resident in, or have a strong connection with, the City of Edinburgh.
The chosen candidate will have an established reputation as a writer, have the ability to act as the City’s literary ambassador, and be a highly motivated and personable individual. It is an honorary post, lasting for a period of three years.
The Makar receives a small honorarium from the Council, and in return is asked to compose poems on Edinburgh, its people and aspects of life in the city, assist in the promotion of poetry in partnership with literary organisations, and select poetry for the Council’s website.
Ron Butlin took up the post of Makar on the 1st June 2008. After a successful first term of office, Ron was asked if he would agree to fill the role for a full second three year term until 31 May 2014, and he was delighted to accept.
The first appointed Makar was poet Stewart Conn, followed by Valerie Gillies.
On 27 May 2014, it was announced that the fourth Makar was to be Christine De Luca. A highly respected poet and author, Christine was born in Shetland but has lived in Edinburgh since the late 1960s. She took up her post as the fourth Makar on 1 June 2014.
The current Edinburgh Makar, Alan Spence, took up the post in September 2017.
On 30 March 2015, the date coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Edinburgh's being awarded UNESCO City of Literature status, the new Edinburgh Makar website was launched. This website, created in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh City of Literature Trust, Saltire Society and Scottish PEN, will provide information on the Makar's activities, being passed on as each new Makar is appointed.