'Why Do You Stay Up So Late?' essentially grew out of an enormous appreciation for the poetry of Don Paterson, whose works this project is inspired by. Originally composed as a two movement work, the particular poems chosen as a basis (from which the title of the project took its name) seemed to carry a perceivable continuity between one another; both being intensely personal, intimate and written by the poet for his two sons respectively. Furthermore, they carry an important thematic parallel in the form of ‘birth’ – The Thread (Paterson, 2003) with the literal birth of Paterson’s youngest son, while Why Do You Stay Up So Late? (Paterson, 2007) deals with a more abstract implication of the word – exploring the cognitive ‘birth’ of ideas and human creativity (a socially-ingrained metaphor recognisable from the noun ‘brainchild’).
'Why Do You Stay Up So Late?' abstractly portrays the poet describing his line of work to his eldest son using the metaphor of viewing certain stones in a rockpool in order to see 'secret colour...locked up somewhere in [their] stony sleep'. A second influence on this section comes from auteur director David Lynch's discussions on a similar topic in which he likens ideas (in separate instances) to both 'bubbles' and 'fish'. In both instances, it is apparent that he sees ideas in an upward motion to a surface from a depth, and that in that depth the ideas are distorted and unformed.
Why Do You Stay Up So Late?' by Don Paterson
"I’ll tell you if you really want to know;
remember that day you lost two years ago
at the rockpool where you sat and played the jeweller
with all those stones you’d stolen from the shore?
Most of them went dark and nothing more,
but sometimes one would blink the secret colour
it had locked up somewhere in its stony sleep.
This is how you knew the ones to keep.
So I collect the dull things of the day
in which I see some possibility
but which are dead and which have the surprise
I don’t know, and I have no pool to help me tell -
so I look at them and look at them until
one thing makes a mirror in my eyes
then I paint it with the tear to make it bright.
This is why I sit up through the night."