Paterson and Scottish Literature

The selection of poems chosen for Higher cover a broad spectrum of themes and societal issues ranging from love, growing up, the fallacies of humankind, fear, relationships and death. Paterson often alludes to social conditions in this poetry. In Nil Nil for example he implies that Horace’s failure, represented by kicking his stone into the gutter, has as much to do with the deprived area in which he lives as it does his own endeavour.

Poems such as Nil Nil and The Ferryman’s Arms are grounded in the ordinary (a football team, a pool game) but quickly tackle bigger themes in quite a complex manner. They, like all Paterson’s poems make you think about things you perhaps hadn’t given thought to before, such as what is it to achieve success? What are the dangers of this? What is death exactly and why is it such a mystery? Why can’t we comprehend it?

In 11:00: Baldovan we see a child’s fears about the wide world take over to create a surreal and frightening nightmare. Something we all do or did to a greater or lesser extent when confronted with a new challenge.

Waking with Russell focuses on Paterson’s relationships with his sons and the power of the bond between them that can transcend disaffection and suffering.

These are themes that affect us all as they deal with what it is to be human. Paterson will also challenge the reader to grapple with bigger concepts after the poem is finished. He does not solve the issues he raises for you. He takes you along for the ride and then says Goodbye, leaving you to work it out.