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.

Black Country, Chatto & Windus, 2014

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The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls, Tall-kighthouse, 2010

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Prizes

2012 Poetry London Competition Winner, for 'Bird'

2014 Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Black Country

2014 Forward Prize for Best First Collection for Black Country

2011 Arvon-Jerwood Mentorship

Recordings

Liz Berry

Liz Berry Downloads

1Bird

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2Homing

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3Birmingham Roller

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4Christmas Eve

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5The Sea of Talk

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6Trucker’s Mate

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7Bostin’ Fittle

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8Sow

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9Black Country

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10The Black Delph Bride

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11The First Path

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12The Silver Birch

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13Taps

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14The Year We Married Birds

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15Gosty Hill

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16The Red Shoes

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17When I was A Boy

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18Nailmaking

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19The Patron Saint of School Girls

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20Stone

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21Bone Orchard Wench

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22Fishwife

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23Goodnight Irene

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24Wulfrun Hotel

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25Miss Berry

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26The Assumption

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27Grasshopper Warbler

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28The Night You Were Born

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29The Steps

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Books by Liz Berry