Ecstatic, quicksilver poems, ablaze with originality, curiosity and a passion for words. Ruth Padel
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About Liz Berry
Liz Berry was born and brought up in the Black Country, and now lives in Birmingham. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2009, and an Arvon-Jerwood mentorship in 2011, and in 2012 she won the Poetry London competition. Her debut pamphlet, The Patron Saint of School Girls, was published by tall-lighthouse in 2010. Black Country (Chatto & Windus, 2014) was a Poetry Book Society recommendation, and winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. She is assistant poetry editor at Ambit magazine.
Berry’s work is recognisable for its distinctive usage of Black Country dialect and vocabulary, a regional foregrounding which remains unusual among her generation of British poets. Her poems often draw on the folkloric dimensions of animals and places, and are unafraid of performing the magical realist trick of discovering the supernatural or otherworldly in more prosaic settings. Berry’s delivery of her poems in these recordings proves the perfect vehicle for her imaginative flights, the mysterious thickness of lost dialect words – fittle, blart, jimmucking – inspiring a sense of simple wonder at the strangeness of the world, seen afresh through a language that, although older, seems fuller, more tactile, and more deeply expressive of its origins and surroundings: ‘consonants you could lick the coal from’. Berry’s strengths marry with spectacular results in her account of a metamorphosis in ‘Bird’, in which the physicality of her description seems to embody the changes it describes: ‘my lips calcified to a hooked kiss…my heart beat like a wing’.
This recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 24 April 2014 at Soundhouse and was produced by Anne Rosenfeld.
Poems by Liz Berry
Featured in the Archive
Books by Liz Berry
The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls
Tall Lighthouse, 2010
Chatto & Windus, 2014