FORWARD ARTS FOUNDATION IN CONVERSATION WITH LIZ BERRY

FORWARD ARTS FOUNDATION: Please tell us about the genesis of your shortlisted poem. Is it part of a collection or sequence? Where can a reader find more by you?

LIZ BERRY: ‘Highbury Park’ is a love poem for a beautiful wild city park in Birmingham where I live. It’s overgrown and parts of it feel very secret. After my first baby was born, my body felt so vulnerable and raw, so completely given over. I used to walk in Highbury nearly every day with my son, still do, and as the Spring came I felt my body being brought slowly back to life by it. The woods became a place of strange sensuality, of freedom. I thought often of Highbury’s nighttime lovers (I was the day shift) and how the pleasure of our experiences and longings might intertwine.

FAF: Which poets do you admire most and what do you value in their work?

LB: I love so many poets that it’s hard to begin, but an old love is Anne Sexton and a new love is Fiona Benson. I adore their boldness, their courage and the wild heart that radiates at the centre of all their poems.

FAF: What advice would you give to anyone starting out in poetry today?

LB: Be kind to yourself. Be tough on your poems but kind to yourself. Keep the poets and poems you love in your heart and take courage and comfort from them. Listen to poems being spoken, let their electricity light you.