The Novel


“I loved this book. It’s different because it’s about working class Black Country folk, in their own unique language and environment. It’s madcap, fast moving and unexpected in the twists of plot, feeling almost like watching a film play out, complete with flashbacks. The main characters, Marilyn, Nancy and Daniel are fully drawn by the author in an authentic setting. There’s tragedy and humour, and real humanity.


Bookwormbev on Goodreads

“That was good, wor it?”

Ken via Facebook

“Can honestly say that this is the best book I’ve read all year, although it was responsible for some very late nights (followed by bleary-eyed mornings) as I couldn’t stop reading it. I don’t mind saying that it left a bit of a hole when I’d finished it.”

Rahaugha Svan via Facebook.

“I just want to say that this book is a gem of humanity in this crazy country. It made me smile from deep inside as I reached the end. Thank you.”

Chris Perry

“The people are true Black Country folk, the life hard and the realities harsh but this book is written with such humour and warmth that it is not a dismal read in the least. I enjoyed every minute of reading and finished it regretfully but hopeful. I was concerned that the dialect would be an obstacle but you quickly become tuned in to Black Country speak so don’t be put off. A great ending!”

Mrs Jane H Clarke on Goodreads.

“After the fourth read of Dogged here’s me two Penneth…the feeling of walking them streets and knowing them people from rahnd by the Black Hoss and the back of the hospital got me right at the start. The way they spoke in the book made me ‘hear’ the words and ‘see’ the faces. I’ve bin to that vets, I’ve bin dahn them streets. I’ve lived in your book. I’ve really enjoyed each read and got something different from it each time. Keep aht thoss road.”

Jack S via Facebook

Poetry Collections

Reviews for ‘It’s Honorary, Bab’

“Conceived in the format of a diary interspersed with poems, the book yields interesting information about the background to the poems, the life of the poet herself and her busy writing and performance schedules. The extent of her reading engagements up and down the country will leave readers dizzy until the imposition of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We then learn about Purshouse’s resourcefulness and inventiveness as gigs moved online and other forms of electronic communication helped her to continue to pursue her role as poet laureate, undeterred. The importance she places on keeping up with literary contacts to sustain commissions for future work and to explore fresh ways of creating poetry with the involvement of other writers or members of the public is admirable and has clearly paid off.”

Neil Leadbeater, Write Out Loud


“The setup is incredibly simple: Emma lands what would be for most poets their dream job: Poet Laureate of your home town. Except, less than three months into her tenure, COVID arrives and spoils the party… except, Emma won’t let it. I’m not giving anything away here when I tell you that the journey from start to finish is a hugely, superlatively inspiring and heart lifting experience to read about, both in poetry and prose. In fact, the combination of the two in Purshouse’s superbly detailed yet practical and earthy style, makes this one of the most enjoyable books I have EVER read.

S Reeson. To read the full review head to Internet of Words…


“No review of this book would be complete without mention of the poem Emma won a prize for in the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, coming third out of 16,400 entries with her first ever pantoum ‘Catherine Eddowes’ tin box as a key witness’. This poem and the news that it had won a prize, come right at the end of the book, rightly leaving the reader conscious that this passionately local poet has a national standing and reputation.

I found ‘It’s Honorary, Bab’ a very enjoyable and inspiring book to read and I was really sorry when its 61 pages came to an end.”

Vivian Yates, The Cannon’s Mouth


Reviews for Close

“This book is a breath of fresh air, charged with a kind of comic verve, heavily grounded in Black Country culture. It collects pieces that work brilliantly on the page, and which brim with surrealism, wit, and an assured grasp of the vernacular. There are mermaids on buses, conversations between canals, lazy cats, and nosey neighbours, in a collection that is often laugh out loud funny. But for all the comedy, there is also a deep understanding of the region, and the emotional life that exists beneath the banter, witnessed brilliantly in poems like The Flamingos at Dudley Zoo, where the birds clipped wings become a metaphor for the constraints imposed on youth, or the Budgie Man at 8a, sharpening his beak on the ‘cuttlefish of his day’.

Judges for the Rubery Book Award 2019


“There are laugh-out-loud poems such as ‘Glut reaction’ – “She’s coming! She’s bringing courgettes”, poignant offerings such as ‘Have you thought about a name?’, and poems where jokey and clever wordplay is mixed with more profound truths, such as in ‘When he left’.”

Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud


Reviews for The Nailmakers’ Daughters’

“Emma Purshouse, a freelance writer and performance poet, is also a descendant of a nail-maker.  Several poems reveal her irrepressible sense of Black Country humour, some of which make use of dialect, while others explore the region’s industrial past in a variety of poetic formats which are at once appealing and relevant to the subject under scrutiny.

The first half of the sonnet entitled ‘Emmie and Arthur’s Honeymoon, June 7th 1931’ will give readers an insight into her special brand of humour:

The earth really did move for them
in that B&B in Bewdley.
6.1 on the Richter scale,
the bedroom positively rocked.
Elsewhere, chimneys tumbled
and Doctor Crippen’s head fell off
at Madame Tussauds in London.

Her stylistic range is impressive: some, such as the poem about Bilston and Battersea Enamel Seconds, make use of anaphora – the deliberate repetition of a word or a phrase for a specific effect – to highlight the mechanical nature of stultifying work. In another poem, ‘Things I Learned from my Maternal Grandfather’,  lists are used to create a cumulative effect of knowledge and discovery that is both serious and diverting.

In ‘Star Taxis – Captain’s Log, 10pm to 6am’, Purshouse uses the name of the taxi firm as an invitation to embroider the poem with space imagery to good effect. In the experimental poem, ‘Only Child’, she gives us a visual image of the trajectory of the tennis ball from the moment it leaves the child’s racket to the moment it hits the house wall by positioning the poem in a long thin line down the centre of the page. The final poem in this section, ‘Then and Now’, offers a pleasing symmetry of ideas and line lengths in the two stanzas that serve to link the past with the present.”

Neil Leadbeater, Write Out Loud


“Emma Purshouse is the most adventurous in form and adds a touch of humour as well. The most unusual (which works admirably!) is Only Child which is a column of single words and split words straight down the page with a twist/pun at the end. Emma also draws more strongly on the dialect and dialect words, perhaps more than her two colleagues: bibble, glede, ganzy, oss, doh. Her four poems on her grandparents are both amusing and sharp.

What did she learn from her paternal grand- mother?

always leave your hat on
when you babysit.

Emma’s poems on Black Country industry are also to the point but more current is Star Taxis — Captain’s Log in which the telephonist at ‘base’ imagines herself, well, elsewhere:

bringing back
the bingo babes
from planet Mecca
in the faraway galaxy
of Wednesbury.

Martin Underwood, Cannon’s Mouth


Review for ‘I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat’

“Lots of wonderful imaginative and outrageous poems in this collection which is full of the charms and idiosyncrasies of childhood. It’s easy to see how children could love these breezy poems and become attached to them. One could easily imagine them being learnt by heart and repeated in playgrounds. The illustrations by Catherine Pascall-Moore are quirky and appropriate. The hints about, for example, the best way to learn a poem or how to speak a poem aloud, are unusual in a book of this sort and never patronising.”

The Judges of the Rubery Book Award.

On Stage

“If you ever get a chance to see her perform live, grab it…she’s wicked”

Jane Holland (poet).

“Emma Purshouse has got talent and a rare sympathy for those on the edge”

Simon Fletcher (former Literature Development Officer, Wolverhampton Libraries and manager at Offa’s Press).

“We had a fabulous evening with Jane, Emma and Win – it was brilliant!”

Jill Bright, Dudley Libraries – Funny Women performance.

“Tremendous performance at Buzzwords in Cheltenham on Sunday, Emma! The Comma butterfly poem is a classic. Hope to hear you again soon!”

Alison Brackenbury (poet).

“Emma soon had the audience in the palm of her hand with her poetry performance.”

review City Voices, Stoke-on-Trent.

“Emma Purshouse is a very clever performer whose acting and characterisation skills wonderfully flesh out her material. Her talent is in taking the most mundane situations and bringing them alive. ‘Nubbs’ tells of an ex-boyfriend’s obsessive pursuit of discarded cigarette butts. Only Emma could take on the character of a fruit machine, complete with Mexican voice and tell a hilarious tale of the thoughts of the machine as it encounters punters in the lounge bar.”

Gary Longden – Behind the Arras

“Emma’s Poems had me in stitches and laughter”

Audience member – Funny Women

“Following two poet laureates would be a big ask for many poets. Emma Purshouse, was undaunted. A whirlwind of wit and humour, she started her set with a comic poem about a partner who forgot Valentine’s Day and was split like kindling for his pains, followed that up with a piece about a young mother in a failing relationship (“I think I forgot how to smile…”), and finished her set with her contribution to the Ten Letters project, where ten poets were each asked to write a poem to Birmingham.

“Does it have to be positive?” she asked.


“I’m in.”

Her poem, from the Black Country to its old friend Brummagem (who’s gone up in the world and is maybe just a tiny bit above itself) was magnificent, and one you should catch if you can: “I’d like to say it’s me not you / but it ay.” It ended with the dismissive and defiant “I don’t like to brag / but I’ve got my own flag.”

Steve Pottinger – Write Out Loud

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