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Peter Howarth writes:
Paterson is genuinely interested in the theatricality of poetic ‘voice’, that operatic construction of personality, poetic form, class background, internal audience, degree of famousness, external audience, media ecology, page layout, news events, readerly predilection and timing. Many of his poems return to the feedback loops between sincere emotion and its preconditions. In ‘A Private Bottling’, a boozer spends the night drinking his way through different whiskies, lovingly pursuing his memories in their aromas, from Islay’s ‘whin-fires, heather,/the sklent of its wind and its salty rain’ to ‘burning brake-fluid, then nicotine,/pastis, Diorissimo and wet grass’ or ‘the trace of zinc/tap-water picks up at the moon’s eclipse’, lines whose exquisite sibilances and assonances are picking up trace elements too. But this bravura connoisseurship is the performance of a man in love with memories and residues because his marriage has gone stale. With maudlin vindictiveness, he proposes a toast ‘to your sweet memory, but not to you’, before declaring, solemnly rocking on his feet: The sun will close its circle in the sky before I close my own, and drain the purely offertory glass that tastes of nothing but silence, burnt dust on the valves, and whisky.