Alistair Findlay was born in the shale-mining village of Winchburgh in 1949. His poetry retains this cultural history, notably through his collection Shale Voices (1999), a social and cultural history of the shale mining communities of West Lothian, turning oral testimony into lines of poetry, as well as Never Mind the Captions (2011), an off-beat cultural tour of Scotland.
His father was a journalist and editor of the West Lothian Courier and early in life Alistair was a semi-professional footballer for Hibernian FC. Both subjects have shaped his poetry, most notably in his collections Sex, Death and Football (2003), The Love Songs of John Knox (2006), and has editorship of 100 Favourite Scottish Football poems (2007).
He has also written from his experience as a social worker, a career he held from the early 70s until his retirement in 2009, most evidently in the poetry collection Dancing with Big Eunice (2010) as well as in his memoir Mollycoddling the Feckless (2019). All his books have been published by Luath Press.