Versopolis is a celebration of emerging European poets. In the first of a series of Versopolis inspired interviews we chatted with poet Liz Berry:
1) If you could write poetry in another language, what would it be and why?
I’ve always loved the Celtic languages as they seem rich with musicality and poetry, and are so beautifully distinct from English, despite mingling with it very closely for so many years. My step-father is a native Welsh speaker and it’s magical listening to him just chatting on the phone to his brothers! So I think I’d choose Welsh or perhaps Gaelic as my dream language.
2) If you could borrow one word from another language to use in your poetry what would it be?
I’d like to borrow an old vernacular Welsh name for the ladybird – “ladi fach yr haf” – which roughly translates as “Little Lady of Summer” Isn’t that just beautiful?
3) Do you think poetry offers a medium to protest? (Poetry as Protest is a theme running through the Festival due to our partnership with English PEN)
Poetry can be an incredibly powerful medium for protest, both in a quiet way and a bold, explicit way. As writers we have the chance to bear witness, to question and to challenge. Poetry mustn’t be afraid of speaking the truth, of satirizing or exposing. Through readings, publications and the wide world of the internet, poets have more opportunities than ever to highlight concerns and engage in protest. A project like Versopolis supports this as it raises the profile of international poetry and of poets speaking to each other and building connections through their work.
4) What is the value of the Versopolis project for you?
I’m excited to discover the work of new international poets. It’s fascinating to see what young poets are writing about in Croatia and Sweden, what we share and where we differ. It’s a privilege to be chosen for the project and to have the chance to help welcome the Versopolis poets from Europe to Ledbury this July.
Liz Berry is appearing in Versopolis: A Celebration of Emerging European Poets on Sunday 5 July at 6pm – 8.20pm in the Burgage Hall in Ledbury.