Black Country by Liz Berry

3.5 out of 5 stars

The maxim, write about what you know rings true in this instance. Berry has tapped deeply into the Black Country as a source of the material in this collection. There are poems on the legacy of the coal industry, memories of camping in the Guides and of eating brains for tea at Nanny’s.

There are poems about places, Gotsy Hilland Tipton-On-Cut, (which are both fantastic names by the way) and some about the heavy industry that came to define the region. Among the poems are some on the natural world, including Owl, The Silver Birth and Woodkeeper.

I will ripen you like a rare Chanterelle,
Let you creep into tender cracks of my bark
penetrate the dearest heartwood at my core

What I most liked about this collection was the language. Not only does Berry have a way with words but she is utilising her local dialect to its maximum advantage. The poems flow with words that I have never come across before, such as canting, jedden, donkey bite and the fabulous tranklement. I liked this a lot and am going to try to get hold of her other collections.

Three Favourite Poems
The Year We Married Birds
The Silver Birch

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Ooh, one from up my way!

    • Paul

      Indeed and it is pretty good too!

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