Liz Berry Performs at Girls' Poetry Festival
Thursday, 02 May 2019
Acclaimed poet Liz Berry was this year's guest and inspiration at Bolton School Girls' Division's Poetry Festival, an annual celebration of creative writing involving girls from Year 7 to Sixth Form.
Liz thanked the girls for their recitals which had opened the evening in the Great Hall and praised them ‘for reading so beautifully and with such poise’. Thrilled to be in front of a Bolton audience, Liz talked about being from Dudley and her love of the Black Country accent and told the gathering of pupils, teachers and local residents that she would read a selection of ‘joyful and cheerful poems’. Thumbing through her first book of poems Black Country and her pamphlets Patron Saint of School Girls and The Republic of Motherhood she read widely, including When I Was A Boy, Bobowler (about a big moth), Miss Berry (which referenced her days as a Nursery and Reception teacher), The Year We Married Birds, Horse Heart, The Patron Saint of School Girls and Bird, a transformation poem about a girl growing up and finding her voice.
Earlier in the evening, a selection of girls from Years 7-13 had read their own work which considered a wide range of themes including pollution, time passing, racism, being bilingual, travelling and growing old.
At each stage of a pupil’s journey through the Girls’ Division, her creative skills are nurtured – with Journal Classes in Y7-9, poetry competitions, the after-school Creative Group and the residential Writing Retreat held at Patterdale Hall in the Lake District. The English Department hopes that the students will come to love poetry, as a source of solace and inspiration.
Liz Berry’s first poetry collection, Black Country, which was released in 2014 was named poetry book of the year by several publications, including The Guardian. It was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Her pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018. Liz works as poetry tutor for organisations including the Arvon Foundation and Writing West Midlands. She is the assistant poetry editor at Ambit magazine.
You can watch some of the girls' recitals on Bolton School TV:
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