A captivating collection of poetry which flows between moments of tenderness and harrowing rawness, Pearl & Bone’s first four poems arise from Aberyswyth-based Mari Ellis Dunning’s pregnancy with her first child, and duly set the tone. Intimate, yet coolly objective, they are touched by a sense of wonder and discovery.
This collection picks apart not only the universal experience of motherhood: Dunning speaks up for individual women, and several poems addressing the life of Christine Keeler. The stark realisation, while reading, is that nothing has changed: the manufacturing mill of the tabloid press still destroys women with inconsiderate disregard because it generates sales.
Another fascinating set of Pearl & Bone’s poems involves women from the Bible, recentred in their own stories. Eve is particularly extraordinary, pulsing with sensuality: the woman created to brighten up the man’s dull days finds herself rather more drawn to the serpent from the garden. Eve tastes the forbidden apple, the two humans are consequently exiled; as a whimpering Adam turns to prayer, Eve elects to rebel… and take another bite. There is such delight in this dark humour, as Dunning elevates it with such deft skill.
Pearl & Bone, Mari Ellis Dunning (Parthian)
Price: £9. Info: here
words BILLIE INGRAM SOFOKLEOUS