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The Getting of Vellum

Catherine Byron

ISBN: 1-903392-09-8

Page Count: 64

Publication Date: Thursday, November 01, 2001

Click to play audio Catherine Byron reads "Writing on Skin" from The G... play
Click to play audio Catherine Byron reads an excerpt from "Coffin. Cry... play
Click to play audio Catherine Byron reads the title poem from her coll... play

About this Book

Catherine Byron's first collection of poetry Settlements (1985) was hailed as 'a classic of Irish exile'. The Getting of Vellum is inspired by her ongoing creative collaboration with Dublin-based artist and calligrapher Denis Brown. The cross-fertilisation of his inscribed and distressed vellum pieces in his series The Word and Byron's poems about the slaughtering of farm animals in The Fat-Hen Field Hospital (1993) has led to the creation of new work on both vellum and glass, as well as on the printed page.

Author Biography

Catherine Byron grew up in Belfast, raised daughters and goats in the west of Scotland, and now lives in the English Midlands. This is her sixth poetry collection. She is also the author of Out of Step: Pursuing Seamus Heaney to Purgatory (1992). She teaches writing and medieval Literature at The Nottingham Trent University.

Read a sample from this book

Writing on Skin
You urge me to use my blunt nail on your skin.
Just any word. I can't think, then start 'V' --
a downstroke. Lift. Another. The drag of skin
under my index finger. 'E - I - N'.
There's nothing there to see. Invisible ink.
Like when, a kid, I was into lemon juice
for spy stuff, words that dried unseeable
and needed a flame to turn them sepia.
...eleven, twelve... you're counting, and now 'VEIN'
is burning through like on a polaroid.
Thin rosy weals on the parchment of your wrist.
The word I've chosen, written in my hand.
(Copyright Catherine Byron, 2000)


"Catherine Byron is the heir to a luminous tradition, a housekeeper of souls. Her poems write themselves where they ought: on the inside of your skin."

Hilary Mantel

Praise for The Fat-Hen Field Hospital: "taut, brilliantly focussed... a very exact poet... hungry to enter other histories." Helen Dunmore, Poetry Review "always possessed of a strong lyric voice, Byron is remarkable for a but unsparing eye for the almost unsayable."

Adrian Henri

"Catherine Byron's powerful delivery... was one of the best moments of Listowel '93."

Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

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