Scottish poet Don Paterson has triumphed over one of the strongest poetry shortlists in years to take the Forward prize for best collection with Rain
Alison Flood, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 October 2009
Sixteen years after he debuted on the poetry scene with the acclaimed collection Nil Nil, Don Paterson has triumphed over one of the strongest poetry shortlists in years to take the Forward prize for best collection with Rain, a work which judges said showed the Scottish poet's "total mastery of his art".
Paterson, 45, beat a line-up of acclaimed poets including Peter Porter, Sharon Olds and Glyn Maxwell to win the £10,000 award for Rain, a continuation of his personal and philosophical exploration of the world around him.
"It was a close call. These are some extremely gifted poets and it was an atrociously strong shortlist," said judge and former Forward prize winner David Harsent. "Had it been a poor season I suppose one could have said there were one or two stand-out books, but that simply was not the case here. Every book on the shortlist had to be thought about very carefully, and there was by no means a country mile victor."
But the judges' choice of Paterson's Rain was in the end "satisfactorily definite", he said. "It is a book of great seriousness by a particularly gifted writer. It has enormous emotional depth and he is a very skilful writer in real command of his craft. Some of the work in it is tremendously moving and one or two of the poems really unsettled me – the book will stay with me."