St Andrews poet shortlisted for ‘American Nobel prize’

Friday 5 June 2015

Professor Don Paterson mainbody

Professor Don Paterson of the University of St Andrews’ School of English is among nine writers from around the globe in the running for the 24th Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

The Neustadt Prize, one of the most truly international literary awards in the world, is known as ‘America’s Nobel’ for literature. Finalists are selected by an international jury of their peers and the winner receives a $50,000 cash prize.

Paterson, who worked as a musician before he discovered poetry in his 20s, has already won a number of awards including: the Forward Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, the T S Eliot Prize on two occasions, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010.

Paterson was nominated for the award by poet Amit Majmudar for his poetry collection Rain.

Majmudar commented: “His poetry handles, with sustained musicality, the central questions of literature, considered across cultures and eras: being, time, love, memory. Like the only English-language poet to have won this Prize since its inception (Elizabeth Bishop in 1976), Paterson’s sophisticated technique serves the most basic, almost primal motivations of literary art. He is taking poetry ‘forward’ by taking it back to its formal and thematic origins; to the source of its (and his) strength. As such, Paterson’s oeuvre is more than just ‘international’. It is, in the fullest sense of the word, universal.”

The collection won the 2009 Forward poetry prize. Poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy commented: “Rain … is the best collection of poetry to appear in years … To read this book is to have the privilege of seeing a world-class talent assert itself, as Seamus Heaney did with North.”

Previous Neustadt Prize winners have included Nobel Prize in Literature recipients Gabriel García Márquez (1972), Czeslaw Milosz (1978), Octavio Paz (1982) and Tomas Tranströmer (1990) as well as many well-known novelists, poets and playwrights.

Jury members will convene at the annual Neustadt Festival in October at the University of Oklahoma, where they will discuss the merits of each finalist and vote for the winner.

Professor Paterson’s new book 40 Sonnets, will be published in September. Majmudar speculates: “It may well be a monument within the form.”

Notes to news editors:

The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is a biennial award sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and World Literature Today.

The Prize consists of $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver, and a certificate. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Ardmore, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas, ensures the award in perpetuity.

For further information on the awards visit:

Don Paterson is available for interview. Please contact the Press Office to arrange on 01334 462 167.

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