Liz Berry - Poetry
Liz Berry was born in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto 2014), a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’ (Guardian) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Liz's pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. Her latest collection is The Dereliction (Hercules Editions, 2021), a collaboration with artist Tom Hicks. Liz is a patron of Writing West Midlands and works as a tutor for organizations including the Arvon Foundation and The Poetry School.
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”
Readings and Workshops
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.