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Mari Ellis Dunning


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Winner, Terry Hetherington Young Writers' Award 

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2019

'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

'A unique and urgent voice plotted against a rich lyricism. These poems are visceral, inventive, with every riff packed to the brim with awe.' – Rhian Edwards

'Mari Ellis Dunning writes with honesty about mental disorder and the intricacies of depression, but her poetry is charged by the body and the senses.  This tension between mind and matter gives the poems a dark energy.' – Anna Lewis

'The most emotively immediate of the four, Mari Ellis Dunning's Salacia brings to life a world in which Welsh women do not write their own stories, but rather have stories written upon them. We encounter rarely heard voices from the history and mythos of Wales and beyond, with an intense focus on the struggle of ensuring these voices ever reach an audience, achieved through an acute sense of the literal physical pressures of misogynistic microagressions. [...]Dunning provides an important voice in a Welsh political climate in which anything that detracts from heteronormative, masculine nationalism is marginalised as a 'niche issue'. – Gareth Leaman, Poetry Wales

This accomplished debut poetry collection is a contemporary reflection on mental health, mythology, love and loss.

In these poems, women raise their voices and subvert the age-old tales told on their behalf: Roman goddess Salacia explores her tumultuous relationship with Neptune; Gwen Ellis, the first woman hung for witchcraft in Wales, reflects on her impending fate; a Queen bee is usurped by her daughter and depression visits in the emaciated form of an old and forgotten friend. 

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.

Mari Ellis Dunning is a writer of poetry and fiction. Her debut children’s book was launched at the Abergavenny Writing Festival in 2016. Mari has been a runner up in the Robin Reeves Prize and twice in The Welsh Poetry Competition; she has been both first place winner and highly commended in the Terry Hetherington Young Writers' Award, has been the winner of Seren’s annual Christmas Poetry Competition, and has work published in several journals and anthologies. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and currently lives on the coast of Swansea.