James is a widely published award winning poet and spoken word performer. His poetry books include 'Manatomy' (Burning Eye Books), 'Erased' (Polari Press) and the forthcoming 'Green Apple Red' (Broken Sleep Books). James's new collection 'Wild Life', exploring the nature of queerness, queerness of nature and queerness of 'natural' masculinity, will be released June 2023.
James has performed his poetry at events and venues nationwide and his poetry film 'Manatomy', produced by Inn Crowd, Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East, was released to acclaim in 2021.
Full details of James's poetry publications can be found below along with videos of performances. To book James to perform poetry at your event, visit the 'contact' page.
Collections Manatomy (Burning Eye Books, 2020) James's spoken word poetry collection exploring how nature, nurture, politics and pop culture shaped his identity as a camp gay man. Longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2021. Signed copies can be purchased here.
‘The language, wit, insights, power of expression… Magnificent. You don’t have to have grown up gay to love and appreciate this poetry, but it will of course have a special charge, beauty and meaning for those of us who have’ Stephen Fry
"Bold, graphic and startling" Julian Clary
"Hilarious and honest, Manatomy will help you understand gay life, love and sex better. It certainly helped me..." Jonathan Harvey
“McDermott’s debut delivers us his heart, terrors and triumphs” Luke Wright
“A funny, frank and filthy debut” Molly Naylor
James received a Developing Your Creative Practice Grant from Arts Council England to write his second poetry collection 'Wild Life' with mentoring from Richard Scott ('Soho', Faber and Faber, 2018). This collection will be published in June 2023.
James is currently writing a new collection 'Father Myself' exploring the grief of losing his anti-vaxxer father to COVID-19.
Green Apple Red (Broken Sleep Books, September 2022) A pamphlet exploring the queerness of nature, which maps the speaker's growth from shamed 'unnatural' adolescent into queer adult proud of their nature. Written with mentoring from Richard Scott and a Developing Your Creative Practice Grant from Arts Council England. Designed and published by Broken Sleep Books. Copies can be pre-ordered here.
“Green Apple Red revels in entanglements and inosculations, queering the language of nature: ‘bears’ who ‘are worshipped in sub-cultures’; an apple-eater consuming ‘only Cox’s’. In sensuous poems of belonging and longing, James McDermott carves out space for queer bodies in landscapes. These poems invite us to be shameless and public, ‘out in the open’ amongst our fellow creatures: unique, ‘fizzing with want’ like a bee, but ‘just another animal’ too. There’s abundant clarity, humour and vulnerability here, for wandering queers (and non-queers) everywhere” Caleb Parkin
Erased (Polari Press, August 2021) A series of erasures on found homophobic newspaper articles, speeches, legislations and biblical passages to reveal queer subtexts and to reclaim works that tried to erase gay lives. Limited edition hand bound pamphlet designed and published by Polari Press. Signed copies can be purchased here.
"Erased is brilliant and very beautiful. We love it" Gilbert and George
"McDermott changes the narrative of homophobic documents, revisits their language and moulds it into a glittery powersong of wonder and unashamedly queer joy. This new pamphlet quivers with political tension and confirms him as a vital voice of queer British poetry" Serge ♆ Neptune "Erased is a crystallised gem of a collection. Emotive, evocative, and ingenious. McDermott has uncovered something truly special, an iridescent revision of the canon and our received wisdoms" Rick Dove
"Erased deploys erasure poetry to answer back to decades of censorship and homophobia” Caleb Parkin
"Erased is an act of reclamation and fabulous impudence” Simon Maddrell
"I love this book!" Russell Tovey
Magazines, Journals and Anthologies
James's poems have been widely published in print and online magazines and journals including, among others:
The Cardiff Review
Ink Sweat and Tears
Manatomy 20 minute spoken word film produced by Inn Crowd, Applause Rural Touring and Creative Arts East; directed, filmed and edited by Mark Hannant.
Awards & Nominations
Winner - Poetry Archive WorldView 2021 Shortlisted - Outspoken's Prize for Poetry in the Performance Category 2020
Commended - Verve Poetry Festival Competition 2021 judged by Caroline Bird
Commended - Waltham Forest Poetry Competition 2021 judged by Joelle Taylor
Commended - York Poetry Prize 2021 judged by Kim Moore
Commended - Winchester Poetry Prize 2020 judged by Andrew McMillan
Finalist - Write Bloody UK Full Collection Call Out 2021
Longlisted - Polari First Book Prize 2021 - 'Manatomy'