Byssus is Jen Hadfield's third collection, and her first after the T.S. Eliot prize-winning Nigh-No-Place. Byssus - pronounced 'bissus', and meaning the mussel's 'beard', the tough fibres which anchor it to the seabed - is a book first and foremost about home, and what it takes to find and forge one: amongst friends, alert to mortality, to love and to landscape. Her language, strongly rooted in the common names she finds in the sea, shore and moor of her adopted Shetland, has already been widely admired for its startling originality. Here, through poems of astonishment and adoration, through charms and fables, and ultimately through a practice of attention and careful honouring - she shows how speech itself can be an act of home-making. Byssus is a profound consideration of just what it means to get to know a place.
Throughout Byssus. . . there is something magical and incantatory in the way she cherished language at the level of the name, as if utterance itself might be a way of dwelling in the real and making oneself at home there.