Liz Berry

Liz Berry2 square

Liz Berry (b. 1980 Black Country) says that poetry ‘was really a secret love’ until her mid-twenties. While working as an infant school teacher, she took night classes in poetry before studying in 2008 for an MA at Royal Holloway with Jo Shapcott and Andrew Motion. ‘Everything came alive for me that year,’ Berry says, ‘and I began reading and writing with a fury.’

In 2009, she received an Eric Gregory Award and in 2012, she was selected for the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme and was mentored by Daljit Nagra. He encouraged Berry to use the dialect of her friends and family in her writing.

‘I wanted to tell a story about the place where I grew up,’ Berry says. ‘In many ways, the book (Black Country) is a love letter to the Black Country.’ Berry draws inspiration from the use of dialect by other poets, including Katrina Porteous and Billy Letford.

Related Links

  • Hear Liz Berry live

    Liz Berry at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Oct 5

  • Read interview

    It is such a beautiful, beautiful dialect, full of charm and surprise and wonder, but much maligned.

  • Hear Liz Berry

    Liz Berry reading Birmingham Roller

  • Review

    “Liz Berry’s Black Country is a thing of wonder,” writes critic John Field, “and her poems, winking in the light of her mother’s silver stilettos, are beaten to an airy thinness.”