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.