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Creative collaboration turns pictures into poetry


A University of Wolverhampton artist has teamed up with a local writer and their work has turned pictures into poetry.

Tom Hicks, Librarian in the Faculty of Arts at the University collaborated with the Black Country poet, Liz Berry, who has written a new collection of poems inspired by Tom’s photographs of the urban landscape of the Black Country.

One of the poems, Blue Heaven, has now been published in the leading international poetry magazine, The Poetry Review.

Liz Berry is a high profile British poet who draws on the people and landscape of the Black Country for inspiration. Her debut collection of poems, entitled The Black Country, won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection.

Tom Hicks has been working on an ongoing project called Black Country Type which focuses on the post-industrial landscape of the region.  He has exhibited at galleries across the West Midlands including Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and the Birmingham Photography Festival as well as appearing on local TV and Radio shows to talk about his work.

Liz has achieved great popular crossover with her poetry and recently appeared on Radio 6 with Cerys Matthews.

Tom said: “Liz and I started talking about the fact we both draw inspiration from the Black Country region and began the collaboration as an experiment really. I gave Liz access to all my images and she has steadily created a collection of poems.

“It’s been fascinating to see how she crafts poems using just the images and basic details of where the photographs were taken. She’s able to create entire stories using the imagery alone. I think Liz’s use of the Black Country dialect in her poetry is perfectly balanced too – she uses Black Country words sparingly and only when they fit. This means it’s accessible to anyone – not just people from the region.

“I think for students at the University, the combination of literature and photography in this project demonstrates the potential of working with other disciplines in the arts. It links to the idea that inspiration can be found anywhere if you look carefully enough.

“It’s been fantastic to see the collaboration appear in The Poetry Review. Liz and I are continuing to work on the project and plan to publish more in future. There are also plans to stage an exhibition of the project.”

Check out Tom’s work on his Instagram account.


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