Quantcast
Channel: Poetry | The Guardian
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 3696

Black Country review Liz Berry's impressive first collection of poems

0
0
Combining the grace of a bird in flight with sparing use of West Midlands dialect, Liz Berry's poems show warmth and maturity

Black Country is an extraordinary debut and rooted in place. When you close the book, you can still see the Black Country in your mind's eye, as if all the poems in it were coming together to form a continuous landscape, a single yet varied view. We are in the West Midlands, a world of closed pits and the memory of coal dust and there is a sootiness that contrasts with a fresher and more rural scene of trees, moss, mushrooms. There is a particularly memorable poem about mushrooming, Woodkeeper, which manages to be comic (there is a certain amount of rolling about on the forest floor) and erotic at the same time. Less predictably, dancing across this landscape, are two poems about shoes moving in metaphorical quickstep a silver pair and a scarlet. The scarlet, in particular, stands out against the established darkness of this collection. These poems need to be studied slowly yet there is, as one reads on, a sense of gathering speed, a flightiness, a readiness to soar, and, most of all, an awareness of Berry's inclination to be, in some way, allied with birds. She writes, in the best sense, on a wing and a prayer.

What marks out this writing is its sparing but assured use of Midlands dialect. Some of the newly encountered words are wonderful several I plan to borrow. What could be more satisfactory than tranklement as an alternative to ornament? I love the mocking nudge that is in there somewhere.

Continue reading...

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 3696

Latest Images