The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 14, 2010

Don Paterson's Brief and Complete Waste of Time

We've recently published Don Paterson's Rain, from which we've already featured "Two Trees" in our Daily Poem. If you're not familiar with Paterson, "a writer of surface gorgeousness who is nevertheless right at home in the dark" (The New Yorker), he's an accomplished aphorist in addition to his talents as a poet. We've highlighted below a few of his lines from Graywolf's Best Thought, Worst Thought: On Art, Sex, Work, and Death.

-Ryan


"The aphorism is a brief waste of time. The poem is a complete waste of time. The novel is a monumental waste of time."

***

"Some people achieve their humility by prayer and fasting, some by great charitable works. My own method is to behave like a complete moron every three months or so."

***

"Writers often end up humorists if they read in public too often. Barring the odd and worthless snort of self-congratulation, laughter is the only audible response we can ever elicit. The silence of the unbearably moved and that of the terminally bored are indistinguishable."

***

"Whenever he saw someone reading a bible, he would spoil it for them by whispering, 'He dies in the end, you know.' I'm always tempted to do the same to anyone I see consulting their diary."

***

"The present tense in English is too sibilant to be of much use to poets."

***

"By the age of eleven, I was finally exasperated with my parents. I knew I had been left with no alternative but to fuck myself up."

***

"No email for an hour. The bastards."


More: The New Yorker review of Rain

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