1st Edition

Orality, Form, and Lyric Unity Poetics of Michael Donaghy and Don Paterson

By Beverley Nadin Copyright 2023

    Orality, Form, and Lyric Unity examines the poetic works of Michael Donaghy and Don Paterson and their advancement of a poetics of sound and sense. Observing Donaghy’s critical perspectives on orality, tradition, and memory, and Don Paterson’s systems of collective relation and “lyric unity”, this volume explores the intellectual curiosity of both poets from the classical to the contemporary, in relation to music, literature, philosophy, scientific thought, and the rituals and austerities of the transcendent. This text also explores the tensions occupying their work between craft and spontaneity, and between the intellect and intuition, that arise from a fundamental respect for form as the poet’s guiding principle. Orality, Form, and Lyric Unity exposes persuasive rhetoric and pursues a nuanced understanding of the enigmatic complexity of poetic language and its critical context. This volume interrogates valuable insights into form, language, and poetics, and clarifies and reframes these, with a focus on the creative process, for readers interested in poetry and the practical and critical perspectives of these poets.



    1. Michael Donaghy: Form, Memory, and Oral Poetics

    Form as a Shaping Force for Meaning

    The Logic of Form, the Mechanics of Magic

    Complexity as a Strategy

    Poems in Relation

    Cryptic Logistics

    The Living Word

    Oral Tradition as a Model

    Oral Culture as a Source

    Making Connections, Forging a Context

    Orality on the Page

    Text of an Oral Tradition


    The Function of Expression

    Irish Traditional Music: A Performative Model

    "I Told My Tale Well"

    Conclusion: Rational Mystic

    2. Don Paterson: Orality, Reality, and "One Big Word"

    Context and Voice

    Orality and Unity: Oneness of a Word

    Poetic Form: Elements in Relation

    Sound System

    The Art of the Uncontrived

    Rational Rhythms

    Unity and Truth: A Relative Perspective

    Borges and the Divine Utterance

    "Nothing Was Broken": Redemption, Order, and Emptiness

    Religion and the Absolute

    Illuminating the Mundane

    Conclusion: Lyric Faith



    Beverley Nadin was awarded a doctorate in Creative Writing by Newcastle University, UK, in 2019. Her poetry has won, among other prizes, second prize in the Poetry London competition and a commendation in the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition. Her poems are published in journals and anthologies including PN Review, The Rialto, Magma, The North, and Long Poem Magazine. This will be her first critical publication. She has no current academic affiliation.