Emily Berry: A New Voice In Poetry
It's always a pleasure to discover a new poet, one who makes me think and who appeals emotionally as well. Emily Berry is a rising star of the poetry world, winner of several notable prizes and attracting an ever wider audience.
Berry is an interesting poet: there's an immediate emotional reaction to her work, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Then you read a poem again, you move past the words to an almost surreal interpretation and you realise that there's a lot more here than the superficial.
Is she the finished article? No, not by any means - she has many rough edges and much to learn - but so do all writers. She moves from the rather middle-class namechecking of Nothing sets my heart aflame to the poignant The Old Fuel showing the journey her work is taking.
Are these poems accessible to people who don't usually read poetry? Absolutely: they're earthy, devoid of pomposity, full of hints and insights. Definitely worth several reads.
From The Old Fuel:
"Other times I wake up
and the day's flung out in front of me
like a roll of lino and I'd rather not
step on it"
From Our love could spoil dinner<:
" Last night
my father found us touching legs. "Go to your room!"
he shouted. "You shabby daughter." "You worthless
excuse for a story," the biographer added. They played
cards to settle a debt. That day my mouth felt wetter
than usual. I asked the biographer to check. He used
his tongue. "This may affect the results," he said.
More about the poet and her work at Emily Berry's official site.
On the theme of good women poets:
Emily Berry reminds me of Lucie Brock-Broido, a poet little known outside the world of literature. That's a huge shame as her works are lyrical and powerful. She herself believes "a poem is troubled into its making. It’s not a thing that blooms; it’s a thing that wounds."
Fierce, tender, grim but beautifully written - these poems will appeal to anyone who loves language.
Some readings by Emily Berry of her own poems and an interesting broadcast.