In the shortlisting for this year’s Roland Mathias Poetry Award is Salacia – an impressive debut collection by the young and talented Mari Ellis Dunning.
Mari Ellis Dunning lives on the Swansea coast, and is a writer of poetry and fiction. Winner of Terry Hetherington Young Writers’ Award—and highly commended for a number of others—Mari has work published in several journals and anthologies, and an MA in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University.
Her debut poetry collection, Salacia, offers a stark and honest exploration of human nature and our fallibility, where the dark and sombre moments in life are as precious as the uplifting ones. It is a contemporary reflection on mental health, mythology, love and loss.
'I am particularly struck by the musicality of Salacia, where the poems chime and echo with the enchantment of spells. The poems are allusive with Plathean bell jars and "sticky pearls," yet the subject matter is usually rooted in Welsh wild spaces and mythologies. Ultimately, Salacia coaxes sublimity from pain, reminding us that though we may be hurt, we can still be powerful.' – Zoë Brigley
And in the running for the Aberystwyth University Fiction Award is Arrest Me, for I Have Run Away, by award-winning Welsh writer Stevie Davies. The short story collection is Stevie Davis latest work, and has received an impressive array of critical acclaim:
One of our most consistent and continually undervalued writers - The Guardian
Funny and perceptive - Helen Dunmore
Bold and gripping - Margaret Drabble
Stevie Davies is a former Professor of Creative Writing at Swansea University. She has won numerous awards for her fiction, and has been long-listed for the Booker and Orange Prizes. Several of her books have been adapted into radio and screenplays, and she has written for the Guardian and Independent newspapers.
Arrest Me, for I Have Run Away is a stunning short-story collection on human nature and identity, bound to captivate and charm any reader.
The Wales Book of the Year Award celebrates outstanding literary talent from Wales, and an overall winner will be announced at the award ceremony in Aberystwyth on 20th June.
We're thrilled to see two such deserving women writers grab their spot on this year's shortlist. In the meantime, keep an eye on our social media for more news about our talented authors!