Liz Berry (b. 1980, Black Country) was selected for the Jerwood/Arvon mentoring scheme in 2009: with the encouragement of her mentor Daljit Nagra she incorporated the Black Country dialect of her childhood into her poetry. The resulting collection, Black Country (2014), won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
Berry’s ‘The Republic of Motherhood’ is the title poem of a forthcoming pamphlet, describing the experience of becoming a new mother. The poem responds both to the support she received from other mothers after the birth of her first son, and to a literary absence. ‘Our stories were beautiful, raw, heartbroken, joyous and deep beyond reckoning. But when I looked to poems, the places that had always comforted me, that experience was hard to find.’ In ‘The Republic of Motherhood’, Berry extends her project of drawing comfort from the hard-to-reckon-with.