From the cruel world to the real world: an interview with Iona Todd

Daniela Vasilache talks to Iona May Todd about her new book of poetry, Cool, Cruel World

Daniela Vasilache
18th March 2021
Detail from the cover of Cool, Cruel World
Iona Todd, a Second year Journalism student, has released her first poetry book. Entitled Cool, Cruel World, the publication is an eulogy of women, who are not afraid to grow, love and fight for their rights.

For centuries, women have been objectified, mistreated, ignored and forced to live in the shadow of men. Iona tries to change this perception and to give a voice to the voiceless; her poems are a cry for justice and equality for girls.

"There are lots of themes of womanhood and femininity in the book. All of them come from my own experiences. What's more, I like reading about growth and girlhood in other authors’ work and then intertwining their motifs with my own and trying to see how far I can go with creating images that I like", says Iona for The Courier.

She reveals that her favourite poem from the book is Pink Bathroom Tiles. Presenting the story of a girl who tries to understand her femininity, the text hides a powerful message. The author explains that "there is a line that says 'XX rated' and, obviously, you just assume that means 'explicit', because women, in their bodies, are assumed to be explicit, but I wrote it as in the XX chromosome [the feminine chromosome]. "

"I wanted to create a deeper meaning: how society constitutes women as being sexual objects, but they are much more than that."

Her poems paint the image of a harsh world and we might want to believe that our reality is not like this. However, "in the light of recent events, like the case of Sarah Everard, it's clear to see that there's not been much improvement; there is a long way to go. Hopefully as times are changing, and people are recognizing the problems, things can get better", adds Iona.

The path to improvement is paved with small acts that we can begin to do daily. As Todd contemplates "we should pay attention to each other more. Don't just listen so you can talk. Try to actually listen, take in what people are telling you and learn from their experiences".

Iona's passion for writing started at a young age: "it was that period when you come home from school and you've got nothing to do. I liked reading at that time, so I started writing a lot as well. I just did that in my spare time and I built up, so much so, I thought I might as well do something with that. So, I put it all together in this book", she remembers nostalgically.

After that, writing became an important part of her life, leading her to pursue a career in Journalism. "It's nice doing both [journalism and poetry], because there is a quite different dynamic. When you write poetry, the words just flow, whereas in journalism you've got the rigid structure that you need to follow”, declares Iona.

As a journalist, she has been writing for The Courier, Jesmond Local, and a personal blog called Tell me about it.

At the end of the interview, Iona offered a sneak peek of her upcoming fictional book, called Real World. The novel will address many similar topics to those in the poems and it will be a kind of sequel to Cool, Cruel World.

Her poetry collection can be found on Amazon and can be purchased with only £7.

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