Liz Berry

The Patron Saint of School Girls


Liz Berry (1980) werd geboren in The Black Country in Engeland en woont nu in Birmingham. Haar pamflet ‘The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls’ werd gepubliceerd door Tall Lighthouse in 2010. Liz’s debuutbundel ‘Black Country’ (2014), werd aanbevolen door de Poetry Book Society, kreeg de Somerset Maugham Award, won de Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award en won The Forward Prize voor beste debuut in 2014.

Black Country werd gekozen als een boek van het jaar door The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Mail, The Big Issue en The Morning Star. Liz’s gedichten zijn uitgezonden op BBC Radio, televisie en opgenomen voor The Poetry Archive.

Ze is een beoordelaar voor grote prijzen, waaronder The Forward Prijzen voor Poëzie en Foyle Young Poets. Ze werkt als jurylid voor The Arvon Foundation, Writer’s Center Norwich en Writing West Midlands.

Hier haar pamflet ‘The Patron Saint of School Girls’ en een voordracht van Liz van ‘Birmingham Roller’ uit ‘Black Country’.


The Patron Saint of School Girls


Agnes had her lamb and her black curls;
Bernadette, her nun’s frock;
but I was just a school girl,
glimpsed the holy spirit in the blue flare
of a Bunsen burner, saw a skeleton
weep in a biology lesson.


My miracles were revelations.
I saved seventeen girls from a fire that rose
like a serpent behind the bike sheds,
cured the scoliosis of a teacher
who hadn’t lifted her head to sing a hymn
in years. I fed the dinner hall
on one small cake and a carton of milk.


A cult developed. The Head Girl
kissed my cheek in the dark-room,
first years wrote my name
on the flyleaf of their hymn books,
letters appeared in my school bag,
a bracelet woven from a blonde plait.


My faith grew strong.
All night I lay awake hearing prayers
from girls as far as Leeds and Oxford,
comprehensives in Nottingham.
I granted supplications for A-levels,
pleas for the cooling of unrequited love,
led a sixth form in Glasgow to unforeseen triumph
in the hockey cup final.


Love flowed out of me like honey
from a hive, I was sweet with holiness,
riding home on the school bus,
imparting my blessings.
I was ready for wings,
to be lifted upwards like sun streaming
through the top deck windows;
to wave goodbye to school and disappear
in an astonishing ring of brightness.



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