The Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread) section winners, announced tonight, are: for the novel, Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins (Transworld); for a first novel, Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Loney (John Murray); for biography, Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science (John Murray); for poetry, Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets (Faber & Faber); in the children’s books category, Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree (Pan Macmillan).
Reviewing Paterson’s 40 Sonnets in the Dublin Review of Books, Michael Hinds wrote:
Paterson has always been a poet who has been measured in terms of his supple and knowledgeable formalism, a poet you use to teach what poems can achieve in technical terms (his “Two Trees” is arguably the workshop/seminar of poem of the 21st century so far). Even as we can sense these poems gravitating towards the classroom through textbooks and handouts in A4, however, it feels important to insist upon their resistance to the instrumentalisation which such usage implies. Paterson is not just a technician. In boxing, Floyd Mayweather Junior is technically immaculate, but he hurts. Paterson hits hard too, and has a true fighter’s armoury of punches. One sonnet, “Mercies”, on the euthanising of a dog, is stoically sentimental but aptly measured: “love was surely what her eyes conceded / as her stare grew hard, and one bright aerial / quit making its report back to the centre.” Form does not administer feeling here, rather it lets it grow. […]
This is a supple book, cool and learned in its artistry but equally robust in its appetite for argument and experiment. Paterson needs to recognised as a poet who offers us strenuousness and sweetness in a way that nobody has since Donne; he kills his enemies and loves his friends, making us vibrantly aware of poetry’s capabilities as an affectionate medium. You can read him with intense pleasure in this way, feeling as he feels; for the fundamental sanity of his politics, you can read him with relief. 40 Sonnets is a little book with big muscles.
Read Michael Hinds’s review here: http://www.drb.ie/essays/wee-book-big-muscles