Author’s Notes – Mari Ellis Dunning

The three poems included in Issue 6 of The Lonely Crowd are fairly recent pieces plucked from my collection-in-process, which currently includes poems addressing topics ranging from personal issues to mental health, landscape and iconic figures. Generally speaking, my poetry tends to be very personal.

The most relatable of the three poems included in Issue 6 of The Lonely Crowd is arguably ‘A mind; shifting.’ A poem which brought a woman to tears at an open mic night last year, ‘A mind; shifting’ was inspired by my great-grandmother who developed Alzheimer’s in the later years of her life.

I was inspired by the stories she would tell about the places she had been and the things she had done. She’d tell us she was going to be meeting her mother that afternoon, insistent she was on her way to Marks and Spencer’s cafe, despite not being able to walk unaided. I chose to see this in a positive light, and believed that she was living her best days in her own mind, particularly while dreaming: “While her thin eyelids flickered like rice paper, and her head lay / on plastic pillows, she was caught somewhere between the black sea / and the dying stars.”

Her mind, her imagination, I believe, were the keys to another universe – and who’s to say that that universe was any less real than yours or mine? It was an alternative reality and the things she saw there were, perhaps in contrast to reality, gentle and kind.

‘Oystermouth’ is a poem which I wrote in reference to Oystermouth Road in Swansea shortly after moving to a new home. Inspired by the fresh feel of a new city and having been to an open mic night filled with talented writers, I penned this piece very quickly, almost feeling the rhythm strum through my fingers.

I wanted the poem to sound dreamlike and ethereal, and made mention of walking on the beach at night to achieve this. The darkness, ‘hungry as a walrus’ was a nod to Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter,’ who devoured all the oysters they could find. I am a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, and even bought a framed illustration of the Walrus and the Carpenter to celebrate moving to the seafront. Oysters are the birthplace of pearls – this poem held both trepidation and excitement for the future, and the pearls that I might find there.

A far cry from the positivity of ‘Oystermouth,’ ‘Reaching’ is a poem about the darker elements of human nature. Having struggled with my mental health over the years, I have always found poetry a healthy outlet, and wrote ‘Reaching’ when I was struggling to express my feelings verbally. The piece is about feeling trapped by anxiety and the numbing sensation that can come with depression, conflictingly caught by neurosis and emptiness at the same time.

jpo5fyquMari Ellis Dunning is a Welsh writer of poetry, short stories, children’s books and novels. She has work published in various publications, including the New Welsh Review, Female First Magazine, Parthian’s Cheval Anthologies, Cultured Vultures and Parthian’s How to Exit a Burning Building. Mari’s ebooks can be found on Amazon or via her blog, while her children’s novel, Percy the Pompom Bear, is available from Rowanvale Books and other retailers. Mari recently won the Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award, for her short story ‘Cartref,’ and came third place in the Robin Reeves Prize. She was highly commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition.

You can read Mari’s poems in Issue Six of The Lonely Crowd which is available to purchase here.

© Mari Ellis Dunning, 2017. Banner image © Jo Mazelis, 2017.