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Mari Ellis Dunning

Pearl & Bone

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 'In this profound study of the maternal journey, Mari Ellis Dunning does not attempt to speak for all mothers, but she can speak up for the many that become "pale and bloodless ghosts". These essential, visceral poems ensure we pay attention to the fear, risk and shame that accompanies the female pregnant body, whilst weaving a picture of the truthful, tender reckonings that are the poet's own.' – Rebecca Goss


'This is a brave, complex, powerful, angry, and loving book, full of poems that argue, discuss, share, and reject the abuse of power that women and children are constant victims of... It is a model example of issues-based poetry, where argument is not reduced to sloganeering, preaching or demands, a concerned and original voice in the current debate about sexuality and gender.' Tears in the Fence


Pearl and Bone explores the complexities of becoming a new mother amidst a global pandemic, with the stories of other mothers interwoven amongst the author’s intimate moments, from pregnancy to childbirth and beyond. These poems showcase the lost voices of women through history – in the throes of labour, Mary paces the stable; in a dim Soho studio, Christine Keeler poses for the infamous Lewis Morley photographs; while above us, the moon laments the number of feet that have stormed her surface.

Beautiful, emotional and richly imagistic, Mari Ellis Dunning presents mothers in many forms: those experienced, chosen, unwitting, and presumed, asking us to consider the true nuances of motherhood – delicate as pearl, durable as bone.

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year for her debut collection Salacia, this is the poet’s highly anticipated second collection.


Interview with The Broken Spine can be read here.

Writer of the Month feature with The Broken Spine can be read here.

Articles in Nation. Cymru here and here.


Mari Ellis Dunning’s poems and short fiction can be found in recent and upcoming  editions of Banshee Lit Mag, New Welsh Reader and The Lampeter Review, amongst others. She has also been the winner of The Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award, and placed second in both the Lucent Dreaming Short Story Competition and the Sylvia Plath Poetry Prize. The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass was written in collaboration with Natalie Ann Holborrow and published in 2020. Mari is a PhD candidate at Aberystwyth University, where she is writing a historic novel set in 16th-century Wales, exploring the relationship between accusations of witchcraft, the female body and reproduction/fertility. Mari also teaches Creative Writing part-time at Aberystwyth University, facilitates workshops and engages in poetry festivals and events. She lives on the west coast of Wales, with her husband, their son, and their very adorable poochon.