The Poem

Don Paterson

Illuminating and authoritative treatise on ‘how a poem works’, from the multi-award-winning poet, editor and professor of poetry.

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Don Paterson is not only one of our great poets, but also an esteemed authority on the art of poetry. In illuminating and engaging prose, he offers his treatise on the making and the philosophy of ‘the poem’.

Paterson unpicks the process of verse composition with ambition, scholarly flair, and occasional scurrilities, exploring the mechanics of how a poem works and, essentially, what a poem is. His findings take the form of three essays that make up the three sections of the book: ‘Lyric’ attends to the sound of the poem; ‘Sign’ envisages ideas of poetic meaning; while ‘Metre’ studies its underlying rhythms.

Through his various professional guises – as poetry editor at Picador Macmillan, professor of poetry at the University of St Andrews, and major prize-winning poet – no one is better placed to grant this ‘insider’s perspective’. For all those intrigued by the inner workings of the art form and its fundamental secrets, The Poem will surprise and delight.

Critic Reviews

The close intimacy with the workings of poetry - as sound, as meaning, as rhythm - that Don Paterson exhibits in The Poem is without parallel in writings on this subject. Combining the insights of the poet with the critical acumen of the editor and the curiosity of the scholar, the book offers a no-holds-barred, nuts-and-bolts account of the way poems function that is at the same time a passionate defence of the art, and artfulness, of poetry.

Derek Attridge
Critic Reviews

A tremendous achievement.

Times Literary Supplement

Don Paterson was born in Dundee in 1963. His poetry has won many awards, including the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, all three Forward Prizes and, on two occasions, the T. S. Eliot Prize. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2009. He is Professor of Poetry at the University…

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