Category Archives: Jade Mitchell

The Dance Interview Series with Iona Lee

Jade Mitchell : If you could begin this interview, what question would you ask yourself?

Iona Lee : Fancy a pint?

Jade Mitchell : When did you initially begin writing poetry?

Iona Lee : Hmmm. I think I started writing poems when I was around seven. I’ve always loved stories and the different ways they can be told and so I was always writing, creating characters, reading and making plays that I would put on for my long-suffering parents. I once created an opera to the soundtrack of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which is over an hour long I believe. Not sure how my parents made it through that one. Being something of a jack of all trades I perhaps contented myself with being a master of none. Time passing has led to greater specialisation however, so doing the poetry thing predominantly is a recent development. At my first tentative foray in to performance poetry there was amongst the audience an established performance poet, Salena Godden, who was kind enough to encourage me and become something of a mentor. This spurred me on to greater efforts and attempting to improve and write more and be generally better.

Jade Mitchell : How did you get into performance poetry, particularly in the Scottish scene? Would you say that performance poetry has influenced your writing processes and if so, how?

Iona Lee : I used to be a dancer and had just suffered a hope-of-a-career ending injury and was somewhat lost for what to do next. I was taking a year out, not to “find myself” in South East Asia or do anything particularly helpful, but to earn some money and work out what I might want to do with my life. I can’t really remember what exactly made me sign up for the open mic slot at Inky Fingers in Edinburgh, but I did, and here we are. I was seventeen at the time and was pleased to discover that you don’t get your age checked in pubs if you are there to read poetry. Aside from booze, everyone is very welcoming and I felt at once part of something. Becoming what one might call a performance poet has certainly changed my writing process. It’s slowed it down for one. Before, I wrote entirely for myself, for my own amusement or my own satisfaction. As one gains some kind of reputation one feels a duty, not only to one’s own expectations but to those of one’s audience. I try my best to not let it affect my writing but I must admit I do have a few more insecurities now. I worry about coming across as clichéd and not being fresh or honestly “myself”. Everyone is their own worst critic of course. You discard something in a self-indulgent grump and rediscover it in a drawer a few months later, and it is never as bad as you had decided that it was.

Jade Mitchell : Speaking of performance poetry, you recently won the Scottish Slam Championships of 2016, with poems such as “It Was Summer Outside” and “A Nice Quiet Life”. How did you find preparing for the slam and are you looking forward to competing in Paris this year?

Iona Lee : I had a rigorous routine of jogging, cold baths and summoning the ghost of Henry Irving. No, to be honest I just kind of turned up. I had no expectations having only done one slam before. I was very nervous though, not least because my poetry is not typical of the sort of thing you get in slam competitions. The standard was very high, there’s a lot of great poetry being written in Scotland right now, so to have won was a lovely honour. I’ve not been so very confident about my work of late and so winning was a nice “It’s okay, you’re doing okay”. Very excited for Paris, but I am full of trepidation.

We were women

and women were

cocaine, jazz,


We were the new craze.

And there was so much

still to find out,

out of my mind on love

for that room

and that moment

and that you.

—from “It Was Summer Outside”

Jade Mitchell : Not only do you perform poetry, but you are currently within your second year at the Glasgow School of Art. Is art a major influence of your poetic work?

Iona Lee : Probably the other way around. I use poetry in my art a lot and illustrate my own stories whenever I can, but as I said earlier, I have tended to be a jack of all trades. I don’t see that this is necessarily a weakness; to be able to write, perform and illustrate my work across a variety of media might well be an ambition. I should probably write about art more; write about literature and politics and society more. I’m still pretty young however and so I find it much easier to write about myself as a means of talking about more universal subjects. I’m very aware that I don’t really know much about anything yet and I still have so much of life to take in and experience and I always want to be honest so I write about what I know that I know.

Click here to watch on Vimeo

Jade Mitchell : Do you believe that you have evolved within your own creative processes as both a poet and an artist since your origins?

Iona Lee : Of course, but as the creative type you are never content. You are constantly striving to be better and do better and do more and do it persuasively. As an art student one is always subject to criticism, as a performer one is always offering oneself up for criticism. It can feed one’s self doubt, but encourages one’s attempts to improve. I have a lot of ups and downs. I have amazing insight and talent on Monday and then wake up to find that I am William McGonagall on Tuesday. To use a big word, it is Sisyphean, but very good fun.

Jade Mitchell : What would you believe to be the biggest achievement so far of your poetry career?

Iona Lee : Writing poetry.


Ripped untimely from her mother’s womb, Iona has been late for most things ever since the 23rd of February 1996 though she has managed this deadline. An only child, she would often create and draw characters that she might spend the day with (she still does it, but now it’s a bit weird because she’s technically an adult). Currently an illustration student at the Glasgow School of Art, her poetry is a distraction from her studies. She recently won the title of Scottish Slam Champion. She does not know yet exactly what she will end up doing, but looks forward to a life of general creativity and little money. 

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Poetry Findings of the Winter

As autumn descends into winter and we all begin to bundle up for the holiday season, I wanted to pull together some of the best videos and pieces of poetry I’ve found over the few months that have thawed me of this winter cold and left me in awe.

(click here to watch on youtube)

The Summer I Turned Twenty by Ashe Vernon

Ashe Vernon’s performance of her poem “The Summer I Turned Twenty” is one that captivates and breaks you at the same time. The rawness and the anger in her voice is something so powerful, the pain almost mirroring an earthquake. This performance is one that I will never forget any time soon.

James Andrew Crosby

James Andrew Crosby creates a whole range of visual poetry in a simple and beautiful format, with small bursts of honest poetry which blends the themes of heartbreak, love and yearning in a perfect balance.

(click here to watch on youtube)

Polos by Katie Ailes

Katie Ailes’ latest spoken word video, Polos, is a beautiful representation of spoken word combined with dance. The poem itself expresses the themes of insecurity and body issues within reflection upon a dance teacher in a beautiful and engaging way through the combining of these art forms.

Occupied by Ghosts by Taylor Pavolillo

Taylor Pavolillo’s zine Occupied by Ghosts examines the experience of loss and the pain and suffering that arrives within the aftermath. Accompanied by delicate photography that represents idyllic houses, this zine underlines the struggle of moving on without wanting to leave the past behind, and the gaping hole that you consume yourself in with this loss.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Sway This Way: Idiot Verse by Keaton Henson |Review

Review by Jade Mitchell

An acclaimed musician, writer, and visual artist, Keaton Henson has already painted a picture of love, heart-break and pain with his numerous albums and collections of artwork. But now, he can add the title of poet under his belt. Idiot Verse details the moments and mishaps of Keaton’s life over a three-year period, and captures them at their rawest and honest emotion.

Within his poetry, there is a sense of isolation, in the longing to be in another’s company. Within poems such as “Grow Up With Me” and “Polite Plea”, there is a gentle coaxing within Keaton’s voice, the kind of plea which is inviting, even if it is as simple as to exist with someone.

“I will make art, not for, but about you

speak truths while you’re sleep and wake you with hands

we will dive deeply into one another

and stay out of our own weary heads”

But within this isolation, there is also the temptation to hide. To conceal your emotions away and lock them forever within yourself. “Hiding It” faces this idea of being overwhelmed with feeling that you can barely hold yourself together, so you keep yourself hidden.

“I vow to stow it all away

and keep the world from you

if I can’t handle all of it

how could you feel it to?

So I’ll smoke a cigarette and think

of everything you are

how can I feed and dress myself

when thinking of the stars?”

Within Idiot Verse, there is also the contrast between love and heart-break, and Keaton knows this all too well. The poem “The One” is simple in its poetry. There is something quite bitter-sweet within its language, within filling yourself with so much care and love for someone so much you’d sacrifice your life for them.

“you are my angel

I’ll keep you from harm

talk to me sweetly

break both my arms

My Aphrodite

you’re every breath

sing me a lullaby

love me to death”

But what happens when this love stops, when it’s over-shadowed by fear that you can’t help but tell yourself to leave? “Too Soon” details the leaving of someone too quickly. This poem is full of longing and regret, but the love still exists there, trembling.

“I know

I left you far too soon my love

but knew from every laugh

that I was never going to be

able to be enough

I know I gave up far too soon

and left in a loathsome way

but please understand I’m not quite a man

but perhaps will be someday”

But sadly, this review is not enough to display the intensity of Keaton’s work within this collection. Idiot Verse carries the reflections of being a creator, of the hardships of writing, of being isolated and finding solace within poetry. Within the last poem “To”, Keaton ends the collection with a bitter-sweet poem, highlighting the harmony and balance we will one day find in our lives.

“to plant flowers

and leave, never to see them grow

to pretend to pretend you’re important

but secretly feel that you are”

Connect with Keaton:
Website | Facebook | Tumblr | Store

Keaton Henson is a musician, writer and visual artist from the suburbs of London, England. He has released three critically-acclaimed albums: Dear, Birthdays and Romantic Works as well as scoring for ballet and film. Keaton has also shown his art in exhibitions around the world and published a book called Gloaming. He is currently working on his fourth album alongside new exhibitions and books.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Sway This Way: Homing by Katie Ailes |Review

Review by Jade Mitchell

Katie Ailes’ Homing is a transition between the borders of the homes we create for ourselves – whether they be stemmed from childhood or ones we find along the way as our lives begin to take shape.

“and I wondered in the screaming ambulance

how we were so fleshy, so breakable,

whether we really were once made of light

and had bruised ourselves into bodies.”

At first, she focuses on her childhood roots of America. Poems such as ‘Watermelons’ and ‘Farm Hand’ are vivid, her imagery painting across the pages as her childhood comes to life through her background scenery of Pennsylvania, and her summers spent there.

“Cricket-loud nights ignored

windowpanes, let themselves in

while fireflies winked the yard bright.”

Katie also paints poignancy within the poem “Lightning”. This personal piece highlights Katie’s relationship with the man who raised her, with snapshots of the memories they have shared together, highlighting the bond shared between father and daughter, and how it grows through the years.

“When he first told me

I was not his daughter,

he held me together

with soft words:

I have always believed in nurture

over nature, love.

You are mine, in that.”

Katie then transitions from America to the United Kingdom. From England, she pens “Christmas Day, Regent’s Park” in which she captures a sense of homesickness and isolation. We see the stark contrast between the greying, bland Christmas morning experienced in London, and the Christmas morning that Katie envisions for a loved one back home in Maine.

“Hear his exhales, feel my tiny lungs

match his. We make a rhythm of small clouds.

The rain begins.”

From Scotland, the political roots that had taken ahold of the country in 2014 are clearly evident. She captures the electricity of the evening of the Independence Referendum, this new-found feeling of excitement and hope as the night grows on in anticipation of the result.

“Young Americans in an old land,

we were heady with democracy,

claimed to feel ancient rebellions

rising in our blood: a kindred fighting

freedom. We were giddy with history

and blind with future.”

Within the final poem within the collection Homing, reality blurs with memory. Katie reminiscences her summer days in Jersey with her family, the nostalgia rising through each stanza like a tidal wave. Highlighting the significance place her home holds within her heart, this poem highlights that no matter how far away you are from home, it will always exists within your soul.

“And sometime in the blur

I wake: and my hands are white and suds

and my fingers are pruning in the 

hot soapy clean:

and I am home.

And I am home.”

Connect with Katie:
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Katie Ailes is a poet and researcher currently conducting her PhD at the University of Strathclyde. Her research focuses on the expression of marginalised voices through contemporary spoken word poetry in the UK. Ailes has performed her poetry across the UK with the collective Loud Poets, and placed second in the 2015 Scottish National Poetry Slam. Her first collection, Homing, was published in August.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Finding Poetry Within Fiction

Who’s to say that poetry can’t be found in fiction? Not me. So I’ve been scanning the books that have recently been tearing at my chest and searching for the perfect extracts that reflect the heart and soul that an author carries with them into writing.

LandLine by Rainbow Rowell

“Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with? 
And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything wasn’t everything else just scenery?”

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you’ve been in before – you will recognise the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of the drawers. You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”

Aristotle & Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

“Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

“I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it — to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once.”

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Favourites

With September now in our midst, I’ve decided to take the time to reflect on my trips to the Edinburgh Fringe by boasting about the incredible shows I had the pleasure of seeing and showcasing the finest poetry acts that graced the Scottish stages over the month of August.

Loud Poets

Loud Poets” debuts 10 energetic and ambitious Scottish poets and combines them into an all-blazing, poetic force to be reckoned with.

With a particularly uplifting spirit, the show consisted of a mixture of comedic and emotional pieces to highlight the variety of talent amongst the performers. Opening with a particularly humorous short film on what it ‘means’ to become a poet (featuring Callum O’Dwyner), the night followed into a river of poetry. From nerd love, to underlining the poverty and austerity facing the United Kingdom today, to emotional pieces about the loss of a loved one, to poems that stir the self-love you need to realise within yourself. Loud Poets brought it all.

They bring forth the ever electrifying poetic talent found in Scotland today, showcasing the dynamic styles and energies that can be found within the poetry scene. Loud Poets left me laughing, crying and in the end, made me realise how poetry isn’t inclusive anymore, it’s broadening into something so much bigger. I’ve never seen so many people (including myself) talk so passionately about the show, and to end the night with a standing ovation, I think that says it all on how truly brilliant this show was to witness.

Harry Baker – The Sunshine Kid

Tucked away inside the deep underbelly of a haunted pub, Harry Baker‘s show “The Sunshine Kid” was a small joy of light bursting through on a dreary afternoon. With multiple slam champion titles under his belt, Harry Baker is one exceptionally talented individual.

But this isn’t just shown through titles and trophies.

Harry Baker’s performance is one that sparks awe, releasing charisma and vitality into a room full of anticipating spectators. His energetic rhythm and poignancy in his poetry is something that everybody came to understand. Out of all of the pieces performed, no piece hit me harder than “The Scientist and The Bumblebee”, a particularly uplifting piece on the theory of how scientists believed that bees could not fly, but bees can – bringing the message that you can fight to achieve what you dream. But it isn’t all just poetry that Harry Baker has to offer: Haiku death-matches with other budding poets, singing poems in German, and poetical parodies of mainstream artists such as One Direction and Ed Sheeran had the whole room chuckling.

What carries the show is a combination of humble attitude and his energetic and attention-snapping performances, making Harry Baker a talent that is not to be missed.

Jemima Foxtrot – Melody

Jemima Foxtrot‘s debut show at the Fringe, “Melody”, was a spectacle to witness.

A fine concoction of spoken word and music, “Melody” debuts a new kind of storytelling. A fusion of memory and music, a heavy theme of nostalgia weaves throughout it. The music used throughout acts as a stigma for the flashbacks, causing the character (played by Jemima) to continue throwing herself through the sands of the past. The show creates a balance of the different sides of nostalgia we experience. It sifts through good memories: of adolescence, of nights out with friends you’ll never forget, of newfound love – but it also reflects on the bad. How the minor changes create larger ripples in the waters of life, and the tragedy of going through abortion, reflecting on what could have been but never was.

Jemima sums up the play in one simple sentence within the show: “I’m a child of my time”. That despite the passage of time and the aging of your body, you will never truly grow out of your childish wonders and abandon your roots.

Agnes Török – If You’re Happy and You Know It, Take This Survey

Aside from leading the stage in Loud Poets, Agnes Török‘s solo show, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Take This Survey” is a truly exceptional show from such a talented spoken word poet.

But this show isn’t a guide to achieving happiness.

Instead, Agnes peers into the study of happiness from a personal point of view, involving her audience throughout the entire show by asking them questions about their own happiness and the way they feel about themselves. With this added personal touch, this immediately immerses the audience into thinking about their own experiences with happiness.

She analyses what it means to be happy through the social, personal and political aspects of our lives. Breaking down each of these concepts through her poetry, and concludes that in order to achieve happiness within our lives, we must combine the political opportunities to which we must stand up and help others in need, to involve as much of the social community as possible in achieving that goal, resulting into how that affects you on a personal level.

And if there’s one thing to take away from her show, it’s the advice she provides: Make art. Her final poem is perhaps the most poignant, revealing the importance of making art in order to make a difference in the world. A truly beautiful message to receive from what has became one of the most honest shows I have witnessed from such a talented individual.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Let’s Hear It for the Ladies of the Beat Generation

from the cover of Women of the Beat Generation

Forget Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. 

If those were the founding fathers that contributed to the glory of what is now known as Beat Poetry, then let me present to you a few of the fire-blazing women that helped define this generation.

Barbara Guest

photo by Donna Dennis, 1970s

Arising in the 1950’s as an American prose stylist and poet, Barbara Guest’s work spans over 15 books of poetry in over sixty years, as well as various essays, plays and biographies. Her poem, “Parachutes My Love, Could Carry Us Higher” uniquely captures the uncertainty that spirals within the new foundations of love.

”This wide net, I am treading water
Near it, bubbles are rising and salt
Drying on my lashes, yet I am no nearer
Air than water. I am closer to you
Than land and I am in a stranger ocean
Than I wished.”

Diane Di Prima

from the cover of her book, Memoirs of a Beatnik

Emerging as a writer through the Beat Movement, Diane Di Prima’s work consists of more than 40 books, poetry and short story collections, including This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards in 1958. Aside from her publications, she was also named Poet Laureate of San Francisco in 2009. Her poem “The Window” makes an example of the different kind of love you can feel, no matter how strange it seems.

“this kind of bird flies backwards
and this love
breaks on a windowpane
where no light talks”

Hettie Jones

With accomplishments such as The Norma Faber First Book Award, Hettie Jones’s work spans from various poetry collections to running writing workshops and teaching classes in New York City. Her poem “Weather” clashes the prosperity of war against the unpredictability of the weather.

”now that we’ve plunged into war
and wars don’t stop like rain stops

like that last slow drizzle
onto the old tin bathroom vent

sweet hint of growth
in the soft wet drift north”

Joanna McClure

An almost unknown poet, Joanna McClure rose through the Beat Movement more quietly than her contemporaries. Over the years, she developed her own poetic voice and began publishing her work through various literary journals, before publishing her first chapbook, Wolf Eyes in 1974. Her poem, “Wolf Poem 1” combines that instinct and danger found in loving someone so wild and free.

“The wolf had amber eyes
That stared out
The back of a station wagon.

They caught me
Waiting, as I was, on the lawn.

My breath stopped short,
A little.
My heart freed itself.

Denise Levertov

at The Living Theatre, 1959

Influenced by her religious roots and the politically active age of the 60’s/70’s, Denise Levertov’s work comprises of a mixture of the traditional and the unconventional poetic forms. With 24 poetry collections under her belt, she has also received various awards such as the Shelley Memorial Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize for her writing. Her poem, “Aware” makes a metaphor out of dropping in on a conversation, of watching people communicate quickly before being noticed whilst musing on the idea of eavesdropping on human life.

“My presence made them
hush their green breath,
embarrassed, the way
humans stand up, buttoning their jackets,
acting as if they were leaving anyway, as if
the conversation had ended
just before you arrived.”

Interested in digging in further, check out these books we love:

Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution by Brenda Knight
Recollections of My Life as a Woman: The New York Years by Diane di Prima
Girls Who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation by Ronna C. Johnson & Nancy M. Grace
Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima
Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson
How I Became Hettie Jones by Hettie Jones

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.

Poetry Findings of the Summer

As like many of you have probably done this summer, I’ve spent mine reading. So I decided to throw together a little collection of poetry findings I’ve discovered throughout the summer months!

Tandem by Dalton Day
(free chapbook)

I’ve often described Dalton Day’s work as otherworldly. Pure, poetic and captivating in its language, it leaves you breathless at its subtle beauty and poignant messages. You can check out this poem in his chapbook, Tandem above, and his other works on his blog.

Scheherazade by Stevie Edwards

Stevie Edwards delivers a beautiful and profound poem focusing on a relationship. With beautifully spoken audio to match, you can’t help but find yourself drawn into the perimeters of this love, and find yourself engulfed in it.

All Beautiful Boys and Their Bodies Broken By Light by Mehrin Siddiqi
(free zine)

After discovering Mehrin through her charismatic yet honest zines, her first chapbook is a raw exploration of the transition of feeling, and what it means to feel intimacy, yearning and love. You can discover more of her wonderful works on her blog.

You Never Bought Me Flowers by Neichelle Loh
(free zine)

This zine is personally crafted, formed out of diary entries and photography. It not only deals with Neichelle’s transition through love and heartbreak, but also through her personal issues of depression and anxiety. You can find more of Neichelle’s work here.

Contributing Editor

Jade Mitchell is an 18 year old poet / writer who resides near Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been featured in The Grind Journal, Inky Paper and Ink Scotland. Aside from working on her writing and poetry, you can find her listening to Lorde and reading every poem she can find in sight.