Teignmouth has never seen or heard a poet like Liz Berry. Her readings are mesmeric, enchanting, unforgettable. It’s not just the quiet charisma of her stage presence or the consummate charm of her performance – the sheer quality of writing has lifted Liz Berry into the poetry stratosphere.
The Guardian described her first collection, Black Country, published by Chatto in 2014, as a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’. Among many plaudits, it won both the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
Her follow-up, 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 of that year.
One reviewer wrote, ‘Her poems sing the body electric, from the joy and anguish of becoming a mother, through its darkest hours to its brightest days… They bear witness to that most tender of times – when a new life arrives, and everything changes.’ I crossed the border into the Republic of Motherhood/and found it a queendom, a wild queendom…This is a book which floodlights the miraculous territory every new mother finds herself having to explore. It’s mandatory reading for new fathers too. And from an earlier poem, Homing: For years you kept your accent / in a box beneath the bed / the lock rusted shut by hours of elocution… Part of Liz Berry’s unique charm is in the unaffected way she unlocks vowels ferrous as nails, consonants you could lick the coal from. ‘An extraordinary poet: passionate, precise, moving and deeply real’: AL Kennedy.
Image Lee Allen