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Black Country


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The incandescent debut from Liz Berry. Winner of the Forward Prize Best First Collection 2014, and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

About the Author

Liz Berry was born in 1980 in the Black Country. She received an Eric Gregory Award, an Arvon-Jerwood Mentorship, and her pamphlet The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls was published by Tall-Lighthouse in 2010. Her work has appeared in Poetry Review and Poetry London and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In 2011, her poem 'Birmingham Roller' was commended in the National Poetry Competition and 'Sow' won second prize in the Poetry London competition. In 2012, 'Bird' received first prize in the Poetry London competition. She works as an infant school teacher and is the assistant poetry editor at Ambit magazine.


Black Country is an extraordinary debut...rooted in place. When you close the book, you can still see the Black Country in your mind's eye, as if all the poems in it were coming together to form a continuous landscape, a single yet varied view. These poems need to be studied slowly yet there is, as one reads on, a sense of gathering speed, a flightiness, a readiness to soar... She writes, in the best sense, on a wing and a prayer. What marks out this writing is its sparing but assured use of Midlands dialect. This is writing of warmth, maturity and intermittent eroticism. Liz Berry knows her own flight-path, that is for sure. -- Kate Kellaway * Observer *
Superb... a sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands, scattered with words of dialect that light up the lines like lamps. Expect to hear a great deal more from her in years to come. * Guardian *
This is as writer I'm thrilled to discover -- someone who takes pride in the Midlands... turning ordinariness into something direct, tender and beautiful. -- Bel Mooney * Daily Mail *
A singularly impressive book from a talented writer, and like all the best poetry, begs to be read aloud -- Ben Wilkinson * Guardian *
Liz Berry is an extraordinary poet: passionate, precise, moving and deeply real. The voice and heat of the Black Country are here, the old tenderness and the complex strands of identity, the humour and the music. -- A.L. Kennedy

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