Paterson lives in Scotland and teaches at the University of St. Andrews. He often incorporates ‘Scottish themes’ into his work, for instance the focus on football in Nil Nil and the context of 11:00:Baldovan with its reference to Hilltown and use of words like
kelly for sherbet. Throughout his collections there are also poems written in Scots.
Paterson considers himself to be
an English-language poet writing for a larger audience than the local one. He is more concerned with doing interesting things with language than he is about establishing a ‘Scottish’ agenda in his work. Thus we find that the most significant aspects of Nil Nil are not the allusions to the Scottish team with its
Highland Division or the fact the pilot flies over Leuchars, but the juxtaposition of situations that could essentially take place anywhere and the structure of the poem with its trajectory that opens out to include a much wider and universal truth.