Liz Berry - Poetry
Liz Berry is an award-winning poet and author of the critically acclaimed collections Black Country (Chatto, 2014); The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018); The Dereliction (Hercules Editions, 2021), a collaboration with artist Tom Hicks; and most recently The Home Child (Chatto, 2023), a novel in verse. Liz’s work, described as “a sooty soaring hymn to her native West Midlands” (Guardian), celebrates the landscape, history and dialect of the region. Liz has received the Somerset Maugham Award, Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and Forward Prizes. Her poem ‘Homing’, a love poem for the language of the Black Country, is part of the GCSE English syllabus. Liz is a patron of Writing West Midlands and lives in Birmingham with her family.
Forward Prize for Best First Collection Winner 2014
Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award Winner 2015
Somerset Maugham Award Winner
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Chosen as a Book of the Year by The Guardian, Big Issue, The Telegraph, The Mail and The Morning Star
In Black Country, Liz Berry takes flight: to Wrens Nest, Gosty Hill, Tipton-on-Cut; to the places of home. The poems move from the magic of childhood – bostin fittle at Nanny’s, summers before school – into deeper, darker territory: sensual love, enchanted weddings, and the promise of new life.
In Berry’s hands, the ordinary is transformed: her characters shift shapes, her eye is unusual, her ear attuned to the sounds of the Black Country, with ‘vowels ferrous as nails, consonants / you could lick the coal from.’ Ablaze with energy and full of the rich dialect of the West Midlands, this is an incandescent debut from a poet of dazzling talent and verve.
The Republic of Motherhood
Winner of Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018
Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice
‘I crossed the border into the Republic of Motherhood
and found it a queendom, a wild queendom.’
In this bold and resonant gathering of poems, Liz Berry turns her distinctive voice to the transformative experience of new motherhood. Her poems sing the body electric, from the joy and anguish of becoming a mother, through its darkest hours to its brightest days. With honesty and unabashed beauty, they bear witness to that most tender of times – when a new life arrives, and everything changes.
The Dereliction, a collaboration between poet Liz Berry and artist Tom Hicks, is a love letter to the post-industrial landscapes of the Black Country. Liz Berry’s poems have been praised for their use of the vernacular, the twang of West Midlands dialect. Her poems are matched with Tom Hicks’s stunning photographs, part of his ongoing documentary photography project Black Country Type. Together, their vision is a celebration of place which is as vital and lyrical as Wordsworth’s celebration of the Lakes.
“An exquisite love letter to this enigmatic region, The Dereliction uncovers tender moments in hidden places and reveals the beauty and mystery that lie unseen beneath the everyday”
The Home Child
Poetry Book Society Recommendation
Adapted for BBC Radio 4 as The Ballad of Eliza Showell - Radio Pick of the Week for The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Radio Times & BBC Radio 4
'Home's not a place, you must believe this,
but one who names you and means beloved.'
In 1908, Eliza Showell, twelve years old and newly orphaned, boards a ship that will carry her from the slums of the Black Country to rural Nova Scotia. She will never return to Britain or see her family again. She is a Home Child, one of thousands of British children sent to Canada to work as indentured farm labourers and domestic servants.
In Nova Scotia, Eliza discovers a place where ordinary things are transfigured into treasures - a red ribbon, the feel of a foal's mane, the sound of her name on someone's lips. With nothing to call her own, the wild beauty of Cape Breton is the only solace Eliza has - until another Home Child, a boy, comes to the farm and changes everything.
Inspired by the true story of Liz Berry's great aunt, this spellbinding novel in verse is an exquisite portrait of a girl far from home.
Readings and Workshops
26th November - BHAC Festival, Brighton, with John McCullough
29th November - First Kisses, online workshop for The Poetry Business
6th December - Bear Bookshop, Birmingham, with Nafeesa Hamid a& Hannah Swingler
11th December - Cafe Writers, online reading
19th February - Keele Hall Readings, Keele University
26th Feb - Poetry for Joy and Resistance - 4 week online course,
Mondays 7pm - for Write Like A Grrrl
19th April - Cheltenham Poetry Festival
More 2024 dates announced soon...
Workshops, Feedback and Mentoring
Liz offers workshops, one-to-one tutorials, feedback on poems (by email/zoom) and mentoring. If you're interested to hear more then please get in touch for details and fees.