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Book Review – Anamnesis by Iona Lee

"Deftly distils the collective consciousness into something precise and pleasurable."

Iona Lee’s debut poetry collection is like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: everything here is edible. The core concept is that of memories – their power and unreliability. She has captured those fleeting, frequently revisited thoughts and recollections as a multi-sensory experience. Her mindful treatment and adoration of language are like that of a chef handling their most cherished ingredients. 

Her opening poem, ‘Taking A Thought For A Walk’, says she thought to herself, ‘I will remember this – somehow, I still do.’ This poem beautifully sets the foundation for the collection and its interrogation of our remembrances.

Gallus’ is a three-part poem about truth-twisting and flirting with the facts, and is very funny. The whole collection glistens with humorous gems, often as a delightfully cheeky line peeking through, adding further texture to the humanity of her writing. 

Photo Credit: Laura Meek

You Burn Me’ charts legends and language and love, and the destruction and resurrection of it all – beautiful. ‘Object Theatre’ sums up therapy, especially if you experienced it as a child, very well. You must read ‘Abandon’ aloud to capture all its flavours.

Augmented Reality’ is the poem that I have returned to most. Slim, run-on lines make mantras for life and living it, especially in these strange times where we have access to everything everywhere all at once and the lines between here and now and there and then have blurred.

In short, she does so well what sets the great writers apart from the good and deftly distils the collective consciousness into something precise and pleasurable.

Anamnesis is out now, published by the Polygon Books imprint of Birlinn Ltd. Buy here.

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