Wild Life

James McDermott


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Nine Arches Press
1 June 2023
ISBN: 9781913437701
72 pages

From the publisher

Wild Life by James McDermott explores the nature of queerness, the queerness of nature, and the queerness of ‘natural’ masculinity. In bold poems that root themselves firmly in the coastal landscapes of North Norfolk, a vivid and radical dialogue between nature, sexuality and self-discovery emerges.

McDermott brings a lyrical physicality to poetry which focuses on the body, desire, shame, and tenderness, creation and re-creation, and where there is ‘everything always opening / everything always coming out’. These poems skilfully graft and touch, draw parallels between moments of transformation in the many kinds of ecosystems we exist in – whether outside and between woodland, shoreline and skyline, where the wildlife will ‘see me as just another animal’, or in human interactions in schools, gyms, and pubs where ideas of manhood, self, and society’s expectations collide. Like the coastal spaces where McDermott finds an innate connection, Wild Life identifies that which is fluid and constantly changing – and that nature itself isn’t afraid of being colourful, excessive, too much.

Praise for Wild Life

Wild Life is a vibrant and visceral work that dances artfully between inspired word play reclamations of language and identity, and revealing the succulent duality of the world all around us. My teenage self feels so seen reading this collection, and is so grateful for its existence. Its musicality, its themes, and its counsel are genuine soul food served by a master of the craft’ - Rick Dove

Wild Life celebrates a more-than-human world ‘always opening / always coming out’. So-called ‘nature’ is revealed as gleefully queer, in its inosculations and entwining, its colourful displays of pansies and nightclubbing bees. Meanwhile, gay culture is feral and strange, with Grindr profiles which seek ‘bears otters / no pets’. And the bizarre everyday performances of masculinity are illuminated, in that ‘factory / to manufacture men’, the gym, and beyond. Wild Life gets into the guts of these themes with a bold, embodied clarity” Caleb Parkin

‘Poems that mince and skip, strut and limp, saunter and wander. A sunny queer celebration of adolescence, nature and outdoors. McDermott is North Norfolk’s gay flâneur!’ - Paul Stephenson

‘The poet steps out of childhood shame and into strength. James McDermott makes us look again at nature, human nature and the relationship between them. Sexy, surprising and self-affirming poems.’ - Jo Bell