The Black Country by Liz Berry is a wonderful contemporary example of vernacular poetry. It goes beyond mere dialect to use the words as a way of conveying meaning and music. Elsewhere, the novels of the likes of James Kelman or Roddy Doyle use dialect to great effect in conveying working class life in Glasgow and Dublin. And Liz Berry does this in her poems about the Black Country and surrounds. To help us along, she even features translated words at the end of each poem.
Best of luck to Liz tonight at Forward Prize for first collection.
“Rise up like Lions, because we [poets] are the many, and they are the few.” (sublimated quote by that Shelley fella)
National Poetry Day comes round but once a year and this year is no exception (although given the number of events being put on it could be considered NP Week).
The appeal of poetry seems to be growing and I am hoping to add to this with a blog of poems concerned with the working classes. I intend to include a wide range of poets who may not be considered ‘working class poets’ but have written poems that have added another dimension of understanding or thinking about the working class experience. My initial list (and remember it is not particularly about their class, it is about what they have written) includes the likes of Langston Hughes (see introduction), Liz Berry, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Debris Stevenson, Malika Booker (without whom I wouldn’t have found poetry), Tony Walsh (Longfella), John Agard, Lemn Sissay, George the Poet, Anthony Anaxagorou, Tony Harrison, Simon Armitage, Jo Bell, Josephine Corcoran, Inua Ellams, Kate Tempest, Hollie McNiesh, Paul Summers, William Blake, Anna Robinson and many, many more. Please don’t feel offended if I’ve not included you yet; I really want this blog to be inclusive and draw from the growing population of poets across the world.
So as part of National Poetry day celebrations in 2014 you are welcome to this new addition to the family and hopefully will add to its gene pool. Please get in touch with suggestions of poems and poets to include on the site.