22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Don Paterson

Don Paterson was born in 1963 in Dundee. The passionate jazz guitarist broke off his school education at the age of sixteen, kept himself afloat by doing odd jobs and moved to London to work as a musician in 1984. There he began to take an interest in poetry and wrote his first poems. His multi-prize winning first collection »Nil Nil« was published in 1993, after he had already established himself with the jazz folk ensemble Lammas. Since 1995 he has been working as a poetry editor for a large London publisher; he also works as a full-time lecturer in Poetry at the University of St Andrews.

Paterson’s poetic art has met with universal acclaim. To date he has published four collections of poems, most of which have been translated into German. The texts are wide-ranging in their poetic language; the variety of poems show a meticulous awareness of form, ranging from the concrete poem to the sonnet, and thrive on persistent breaks from self-produced models and from readers‘ expectations. His work employs many different strategies of rhythm and rhyme. The familiar is evoked, dismantled and unlocked through new connections between words. The tone is sometimes formal, sometimes colloquial, at times clear and then opaque. All differences form themselves as if effortlessly into a structure of multiple intra- and inter-textual echoes. »Poetry is a form of magic«, proclaimed the poet in a lecture. »It tries to change the way we perceive the world, that is to say that it aims to make the texture of our perception malleable. It does so by surreptitious and devious means, by seeding and planting things in the memory and imagination of the reader with such force and insidious originality that they cannot be deprogrammed. What you remember changes how you think.«

Everyday motifs such as a game of billiards in a pub or a railway station announcement can be a starting point for poetic transformation, as can foreign language poems – for instance, adaptations of Rilke and Kavafis are found in Paterson’s collection entitled »Landing Light« (2003). With »The Eyes« (1999) and »Orpheus« (2006)

Paterson has also published two volumes containing versions of Machado and Rilke. In addition to the editing of poetry anthologies Paterson has also written plays, radio drama, and two collections of aphorisms, most recently »The Blind Eye« (2007).

The numerous prizes awarded to the poet include the Whitbread Poetry Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and he has received the T.S. Eliot Prize on two occasions. He lives in St Andrews, Fife.

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