The Butcher’s Hands


The Butcher’s Hands was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation & winner of the Aldeburgh/Jerwood Prize for Best First Collection.

Catherine Smith writes narratives of alienation, engaging with dream, nightmare and the surreal, peopled by characters at the edge and sometimes beyond the edge. Intense and even at times grotesque (the pages are littered with obsessives, a vampire, the ghost of a jealous wife, ”Charades’with an s & m subtext) her poetry is always convincingly well-observed, imaginative and ultimately life-affirming.

The Butcher’s Hands shows a coherence and sureness of purpose. The cumulative effect is disturbing, full of black humour permeated with images of loss.

Her pamphlet, The New Bride(shortlisted for The Forward First Collection Prize in 2001), received critical acclaim. The best poems are reproduced in this collection together with new and often astonishing work.

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What Writers and Critics Think

  • Her scary, unsettling voice seems unexpected in poetry. It cuts her free of the crowd

    The Times
  • Catherine Smith is a fierce talent, equally at home with intimacy and oddballs like the guy who has a fetish for sex with a pregnant woman

    Ian McMillan
  • Each of these poems is startling and original. They are enigmatic, unpredictable: reach the end of a piece, and you need to re-read it immediately

    The Independent