Wolverhampton University awards Black Country poet Liz Berry an honorary doctorate

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Award-winning poet Liz Berry has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Wolverhampton. In 2014 she won the Forward prize for best first collection with her debut book Black Country.

Speaking about her doctorate, in a heartwarming and inspiring video, she said: “I was born and brought up in the Black Country, just down the road in Dudley. It’s a really important region for me, and all my family still live here.  A big part of my mission as a poet has been to celebrate the language of the Black Country, the dialect and to show it to be really beautiful, a poetic way of speaking, a voice that we should be proud of.  

She added: “From when I was a really little girl, I always wanted to be a poet, a writer. I was lucky because I grew up in a house where my mum and dad both loved poems and books, my mum was the librarian at the Central Library in Wolverhampton so I spent an enormous amount of my time in Wolves Central children’s library.

“But I think that a really crucial thing is that I’ve always written about the places and people and things that I really care about, and I think there’s something about writing about things that you really care about and you believe in that enables your work to touch people’s hearts.”    

Liz, a former primary school teacher, now teaches poetry to adults. Her other publications are The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018); The Dereliction (Hercules Editions, 2021), a collaboration with artist Tom Hicks; and most recently The Home Child (Chatto, 2023), a novel in verse. She has also received the Somerset Maugham award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Her poem ‘Homing’, a love poem for the language of the Black Country, is part of the GCSE English syllabus.






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