40 Sonnets by Don Paterson

I was given the book, 40 Sonnets by Don Paterson as a birthday gift by a friend. I enjoy the form of the sonnet and this modern collection is exquisite. Don Paterson is regarded as one of the most skilled formal poets writing in English today. He has won an 40 Sonnetsintimidating array of Forward Prizes including T.S. Eliot Prizes, Fabers and Whitbreads. 40 Sonnets (2015) is his latest work.

All but one of the poems in this new book have the sonnet’s traditional 14 lines; “The Version” is a short prose story about writing an untranslatable poem. However, even in the more conventional verses, there is a wide variety of both subject matter and rhyme scheme. I delight in moving from one topic to another when they are all so beautifully covered.

Amongst the topics covered are the traditional subjects of love and death to the less obvious topics of a phishing phone call and a footpath blocked off by Dundee City Council. A few favorites were “A Powercut,” set in a stuck elevator; “Seven Questions about the Journey,” an eerie call-and-response; and “Mercies,” a sweet elegy to an old dog put to sleep and a satirical sonnet referencing former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Don PattersonI enjoy this book, 40 Sonnets very much and, I often read from it a poetry meetings. If you enjoy poetry, I highly recommend it.

The poet, Don Paterson, OBE, FRSL, was born in 1963. He is a noted Scottish poet, writer and musician.

Val Penny


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