Black country

Tipton by Roy McFarlane

‘In our Coventry homes! We speak with an accent exceedingly rare, you want a Cathedral we’ve got one to spare, in our Coventry homes.’

three spires 1Ah, the poetry of football chants. Often it is football that defines what home is for the working classes. And in the League Two play-off finals, that sound rang around Wembley Stadium; forty thousand of us, compared to Exeter’s ten, when we got promoted to the heady heights of League One at the end of May.

Going back to my home town Coventry, and the Cathedrals as alluded to in the chant, it is the fact that the ‘old’ cathedral was destroyed in the Second World War that characterises the city. The city centre was totally rebuilt, divided into quarters, and encircled by a brutalist ring road. But I think, time and again, although it is a cliché, it is the people who define a city; and where I came from, it was migration which alongside the physical rebuilding, came to make what Coventry is today – the Irish and Scots, Polish, West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians, and others. (more…)

Liz Berry and the Music of the Vernacular

Black-Country-Final1The 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.

Twitter: @MissLizBerry

Best of luck to Liz tonight at Forward Prize for first collection.