Pride of Wolverhampton inspires poet's 'complex and engaging' debut novel

The Wolverhampton poet laureate’s pride in the city and the Black Country accent and dialect, has inspired her debut novel.

Published today, Dogged, by Emma Purshouse, is described as a “rich, complex and engaging tale” centred on two Wolverhampton women in their 70s, one life-changing bingo win and how they try to keep their hands on the cash.

“I’ve always thought there was room for a new novel set in my home city, full of characters we recognise, who talk with our accent and dialect,” said Emma, 54.

“I’m delighted that Dogged has now been published, and at how positive the feedback has been.

“I hope this will be another contribution to the vibrant artistic life of our city."

Born and bred in Wolverhampton, Emma has been writing for most of her life having had her first poem published in The Brownie magazine when she was just 7.

She has been making her living as a performance poet for the past 15 years and is currently Wolverhampton’s poet laureate, a two-year honorary role connected to Wolverhampton Literary Festival, which sees her reflect events in verse.

She said: “I love it. It is unfortunate though that because of lockdown some of the things I had planned have not materialised.”

Dogged, which was launched in February at Wolverhampton’s literary festival, is Emma’s first published novel. She wrote a novel before but says it did not make it to print because of the Black Country accent and dialect featured.

“They wanted me to change it but that did not sit right with me,” said Emma.

“I decided to write another novel and left them in - it is important to me to represent where I am from and the way we speak is a part of that landscape.”

Emma admitted that writing the novel has been “a labour of love”.

“The first draft came easy but it has been through quite a bit of tinkering,” she said.

“I did not expect it to get published but there is more interest in working class writing at the moment.

“When you see the book, and hold it in your hands, and people get in touch to say how much they have enjoyed it, that is wonderful.”

Dogged will be available from The Quarter arts space in School Street in Wolverhampton city centre when shops reopen on April 12, or direct from the website of publishers Ignite Books – ignitebooks.co.uk.

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