Don Paterson

Don Paterson was born in Dundee in 1963, and now lives in Edinburgh. His previous poetry collections include Nil Nil, God's Gift to Women, Landing Light and Rain. He has also published two books of aphorisms, as well as translations of Antonio Machado and Rainer Maria Rilke. His poetry has won many awards, including the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and all three Forward Prizes; he is currently the only poet to have won the T.S. Eliot Prize twice. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2009. For many years he has worked as a jazz musician and composer, with a strong interest in electronic music. He is Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews, and since 1997 he has been poetry editor at Picador Macmillan. His most recent collection, 40 Sonnets, won the 2016 Costa Prize for Poetry.

Photo: Murdo McLeod


In Conversation: Marie-Elsa Bragg and Don Paterson »

Don Paterson discusses with novelist Marie-Elsa Bragg the borderlines between poetry and poetic prose

Sat 10 March | 15:30 - 16:30 | £7.00/£5.00 | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Auditorium


The Air

What is this dark and silent caravan
that being nowhere, neither comes nor goes;
that being never, has no hour or span;
or which we can say only that it flows?
How was it that this empty datastream,
this cache of dead light could so lose its way
it wandered back to feed on its own dream?
How did that dream grow to the waking day?
What is the sound that fades up from the hiss,
like a glass some random downdraught had set ringing,
now full of its only note, its lonely call,
drawing on its song to keep it singing?
When will the air stop breathing? Will it all
come to nothing, if nothing came to this?

Don Paterson

From 40 Sonnets (Faber & Faber, 2015)