skip to Main Content

Magma Roadshow with Don Paterson at Cheltenham

This year Magma Poetry was lucky enough to be running a workshop at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. This was appropriately titled ‘Writing Poetry’ and we shared it with Don Paterson, who has just won this year’s Forward Prize for his collection, ‘Rain’.

Don spent two fascinating hours at the workshop taking questions and talking about the English language lyric poem, and covered large areas of poetic ground, offering us his take on prosody, metre, phonetics and even managing to squeeze in a brief sentence or two on the subject of metaphor.

I’m pleased to say he is writing a book about poetry – publication date still up for grabs – so that those who haven’t had a chance to hear some of his insights will be able to read about them – eventually. Those who have been lucky enough to hear Don talk about poetry will know that it’s partly his particularly original turn of phrase that is illuminating; for example, the idea that most poetry that uses iambic pentameter is ‘magnetised’ to the metre or a sonnet is just a ‘wee black square’ on a white page.

I offered the participants a chance to become editors for an hour so, putting into practice some of Don’s insights and suggestions. Split into small groups, they were invited to select which of three very different poems by dead poets (selected so that there was no danger of offending the living) they would choose.

They pursued this task with enormous gusto and there was a wide range of opinions, all of them justifiable, which I’m delighted to say proved the point I was trying to make. Poetry, like all art forms, is a hugely subjective business, and once a poem has reached a certain benchmark of quality (also a subjective matter, I know), selection becomes a matter of the editor’s personal taste. This is where Magma has the edge. A rotating editorship means that the flavour of each issue will be different and if one editor returns your poetry, the next one may publish it. Keep sending it in!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thanks for alerting us to Don’d forthcoming book, though I’d be interested to hear how many fellow magma-naists agree with me that we can learn from poets such as him more directly through absorbing his poems as well as his views on Poetics.

  2. I thouroughly enjoyed the workshop with Don. However successfully scared myself to death at the prospectof beinhg an editor…. I don’t like the power and poetry is so subjective in order to cut it you will have to be brilliant and it will not stop me!

  3. I loved the workshop with Mr Paterson. I was terribly hungover and had had 3 hours sleep but left refreshed, invigorated and inspired. So, thank you.

  4. Sue and I didn’t stop talking on our drive back to Wales about what we had heard from both Don and Jacqui and it acted like the proverbial boot/backside connection with both our writing! Thank you.
    I also had the pleasure of hearing Don Paterson and Paul Henry reading their work in Chepstow on Saturday (On The Border) GREAT

Comments are closed.

Back To Top