Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The February Backroom: Iona Lee


It's nearly a year since I began this blog for a laugh, the Spring sunshine was on the window of the Backroom, lockdown (for us here unaffected by the disease) a bit of a laugh, a wee slice of a dystopian story you could put down or switch off before resuming real life. Well 170 poems later, here we still are. I've said this before but one of the greatest pleasures for me, a poet in D and G, was becoming familiar with new poets, from all over the world and also, shame on my ignorance, from Scotland. We're pretty much removed from things down here, and the only real performance we have is old Davy arguing with the bloke in the Fish Van every Thursday. We have the woods to dream in though, so disconnected from life we're still connected, in an ethereal, liminal and slowly going away with the fairies way.

Iona Lee is a dreamer and interested in the ethereal too, witchcraft, folk tales, dream and memory. She is also however very much connected to the world. She's 24 years old, an illustrator, musician, writer, editor and spoken word performer from East Lothian. She has been an active member of the Scottish poetry scene for eight years and is currently a part-time Arts & Music editor for Bella Caledonia. She was Scottish Slam Champion in 2016. Her work has appeared in The Scotsman, the Morning Star, BBC, the Skinny, Bella Caledonia, Gutter Magazine, 404 Ink, House of 3, Hatchett Publishing, Polygon, Tangerine Press, Speculative Books, and Spit It Out zine.

Iona is a powerful talent in both spoken and written word and I'm delighted she's agreed to appear here. In this poem her sense of stasis will chime with all of us, and the light and beautiful craft that's displayed throughout but particularly in the last three lines will have us all scrabbling to find more of her work. Links below!


“All things that are,
are equally removed from being nothing”

                                            - John Donne

We leave our indoor ecosystem,
follow the map to where there is the promise
of trees and rushing water. I’ve missed them.

Only had a few square feet of world for weeks.
I want to see something far away, the sun
stride out in glittering ripples,
hear how the chatterbox forest speaks.

We whirlpool with people
and pause for every passerby:
                              a shiny little green beetle,
                              families out for today’s designated slice of the sky.

                              Everyone is saying
                              when this is over.
                              I will, when this is over.
                              When will this be over?

The water is awake with fresh cloud,
dark with waterlogged light.

Sunbathing, my eyes are left ajar.
I watch a dandelion clock as a breeze blows time away.
We have no map for tomorrow - things just are.

Iona's Website:
Home | ionalee

The Poem 'Thresholds' in Transpoesie: 

'Amber in the Alcohol'

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