Earlier this week, we published our review of Anamnesis, the new collection by Iona Lee; a writer, of poetry and non-fiction, artist, illustrator and spoken-word performer from Edinburgh. 

Our contributor, Matt Macdonald described Anamnesis as a collection which “dissects memory, remembrance and the minutiae of life in ways that are equally eviscerating and elegant; calling it, “a stunning debut and clear evidence that the next collection will be something to await eagerly”.

If that whets your appetite (and it should), you can read Matt’s full review here – while today, we are also pleased to publish Iona’s own selection of three poems from her book.


This is where they send sad kids
to try and talk them out of it. 

Today I feel happy.
Today I feel sad. 

This is the vocabulary. 

You curate plastic dinosaurs
and Playmobil men
into the shape of your family
your friends. 

Today I feel happy. 
Today I feel sad. 

This stegosaurus is my dad. 

You write a letter to yourself
and never send it. 
You are instructed 
to draw your feelings as a tree. 

You spend a lifetime contemplating
deciduous or evergreen. 


dazzle cabinets
of dark and sparkling

in your careful nonchalance.

to be unreliable
in an array of vintage negligees.

Playing it cool. 

A pair
of black cherry lungs
	in each pretty chest. 

Thumbing well-loved lighters
	with the best of them,
	and relishing the burn. 

Oh, how I do not envy you. 

Those days,
they were heady 
with drama.

On reflection –
	it was hell. 

from one dream
	into another.

That first proper taste
of heartache. 

The cold, hard shoulder
of the kitchen floor. 

	But everyday
		was another costume party. 

Dancing down 
the great banquet table, 

gesturing wildly
with a leg of lamb. 

your foot in it. 

Life has made you sad
and filthy with strange power –
	as brand new and ancient
	as spring. 


We dwell not on earth but in language – Greg Garrard

The dreaming city
is blinking its evening rooms – a punctured 
silhouette of jack o’ lantern teeth. 
	And deep beneath the skin of sleep
the flat is damp and beating. 
We are wee beasties in the fat pulp
of a flower’s pointed heart. 
		Colour of the golden hour
		through an eyelid: egg yolk. 
The night cracks open, honeycombs, 
makes constellations from each lambent household. 
Our souls hung up like ghosts to dry in arabesques. 
		Sudden cobwebs. 
	We are so many distant orbs. 
But somewhere, down a dream-lit corridor, 
I lift the veil, like a bead curtain, and whisper
your names. 

All poems taken from Anamnesis, published by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd (2023), with kind permission of the author.

About the author

Photo credit: Laura Meek

Iona Lee has been a prominent member of Scotland’s live poetry scene for almost ten years, appearing on radio and television, and reading her work in venues and on festival stages across the UK and Europe, including Glastonbury, the Albert Hall and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Iona has been published extensively, in newspapers, anthologies and journals. Her pamphlet (Polygon, 2018) was shortlisted for a Saltire Award and in her upcoming debut collection was shortlisted for an Edwin Morgan Poetry Award in 2022.

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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

We aim to be an accessible, non-partisan community platform for writers from Glasgow and elsewhere. We are interested in many different kinds of writing, though we tend to lean towards more marginal, peripheral or neglected writers and their work. 

Though, our main focus is to fill the gap for careful, considered critical writing, we also publish original creative work, mostly short fiction, poetry and hybrid/visual forms. 

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