The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass by Mari Ellis Dunning and Natalie Ann Holborow

In this collaborative poetry pamphlet, Natalie Ann Holborow and Mari Ellis Dunning stir together myth, legend, fairytale, and iconic female characters to cast a book-length spell and bewitch, as well as beguile, the reader. With intelligence and imagination they question stereotypes, delve into archetypes, and dissect what we think we know, transmuting old stories, through gorgeous language and idiosyncratic imagery, into new and startling tales. Marginalised female voices are brought to the fore, their inner worlds expertly and sensitively realised. Unsettling, evocative, and full of surprise, this is a rich and entirely unique undertaking by two of the brightest young voices in poetry today.

"The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass is a fabulous re-imagining of a series of female characters from literature, folklore and myth. The Queen of Hearts is bored with chopping off heads, the Big Bad Wolf wants to try on a dress or two, while Gothel, the witch who has Rapunzel under lock and key, only has the girl’s best interests at heart, honest. In the tradition of alternative histories, as opposed to merely fake ones, and with a refreshingly subversive take on some hoary old certainties, Mari Ellis Dunning and Natalie Holborow get under the skins of their chosen subjects with bravura and chutzpah, extending them in unexpected directions and expanding our own understanding in the process. If you want to know what happened to Dorothy in the decades after she took a trip on a Kansas tornado, or how Leda felt about that swan, then this is the book for you. The language sings too, matching the coruscating narratives at every step – try ‘petticoat titmouse blue’, ‘ells’ and ‘rampion’ – as these two young poets leave the ‘promising’ tag behind and emerge in this marvellous collaboration as poets of mature and significant achievement."

- John Goodby

"The Wrong Side of the Looking Glass is a wunderkammer of reflections, refractions and uncanny glimpses of the myths and legends we all think we know. But, as in the best tradition of adaptation, these re-visionings awaken the uncanny power of the familiar to surprise, provoke, and address even the most contemporary concerns from unexpected angles. In the best tradition of collaboration, too, the work fizzes with ingenuity and wit, bringing the best of two bright new voices into a unique and richly enjoyable dialogue both with each other and with our oldest storytelling traditions."

- Tiffany Atkinson
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