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Don PatersonContemporary Critical Essays$
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Natalie Pollard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748669417

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748669417.001.0001

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Cleaving Nothing from Nothing

Cleaving Nothing from Nothing

Post-Romantic Negation and Affirmation in Don Paterson

(p.61) 4 Cleaving Nothing from Nothing
Don Paterson

Michael O’Neill

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter considers the Paterson's attraction to lyric nothing as indicative of an affirmative stance towards reality. Nothing, in Paterson, gives succour by associating itself with failure. It comes to seem a paradoxical guarantee of authenticity or literary integrity. The chapter explores the lyric power of generating ‘nothing from nothing’, arguing that the poetry's value and distinction derive from its exploration of the challenges posed by, and the frail but durable value latent in, ‘nothing’ and its associations. If, in Paterson's poetry, nothing keeps trying to convert itself into an imaginative and near-religious (and post-Romantic) something, that uneasy slippage is key to the poetry's precariousness and its success.

Keywords:   Don Paterson, British poetry, British poets, lyric nothing

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