Updated: Nov 4, 2020
To mark the launch of his new poetry collection, CNUT, Nathan Evans talks us through some of his favourite work by contemporary queer poets.
1. Selah, Keith Jarrett (Burning Eye Books)
I first heard Keith reading at Below Stairs in 2018. I enjoyed it so much, I came home with the book—which he wrote, metaphorically and brilliantly. The rousing opening poem—Acknowledgements—is worth the price alone.
2. Reckless Paper Birds, John McCullough (Penned in the Margins)
John’s first collection, The Frost Fairs, won the Polari First Book Prize. And it was at Polari I heard him reading from his third collection, Reckless Paper Birds. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of Queer-Cole about a counterfeit coin that—in a typically fabulous inversion—becomes his talisman.
3. Physical, Andrew McMillan (Jonathan Cape)
It was at the same Polari event that Andrew McMillan won the new Polari Book Prize for his second collection, playtime. I’ve not read it yet but loved the intimacy and honesty of his first, which won the last Guardian First Book Award in 2015.
4. Soho, Richard Scott (Faber & Faber)
I heard Richard read most recently at the inaugural Sunday Service in the newly-refurbished Boulevard Theatre and, before that, at the Gay’s the Word 40th anniversary celebrations in the British Library. On both occasions he opened with Public Library, 1998—witty, poignant, subversive, and the opening poem of a searing collection.
5. Surge, Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)
Jay also read—powerfully—at the Gay’s the Word 40th birthday. I’ve not yet read the collection but the reviews are amazing and it’s up for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2019.
6. Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong (Cooper Canyon Press)
Ocean won the T.S. Eliot Prize 2017. A Vietnamese refugee, he migrated to the USA—aged two—in 1990. An extraordinary journey and extraordinary poetry.
7. Don’t Call Us Dead, Danez Smith (MacMillan)
Danez writes with frankness and fire about being black and queer in contemporary America. Do judge the book by its brilliant cover.
8. Songs my Enemy Taught Me, Joelle Taylor (Out-Spoken Press)
Joelle is an extraordinary performer and all-round inspiration. She hosts the monthly Out-Spoken event at the Purcell Room.
9. The Other Woman, Sophia Blackwell (Burning Eye Books)
I first met Sophia back in the ‘noughties’ performing at Wotever and we reconnected at Below Stairs, her spoken word night at Blacks – where I had the pleasure of previewing CNUT. Her work is always intelligent and completely charismatic.
10. Manchester Isn’t the Greatest City in the World, Gerry Potter (Flapjack Press)
I first came across Gerry in the late 1990s, when he was performing as gingham-clad Chloe Poems, whose repertoire included classics such as The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock. His writing and performances still have the power to stir and to shock.
NATHAN EVANS is a writer, director and performer whose work in film, cabaret and theatre has been funded by the Arts Council, toured by the British Council, broadcast on Channel 4 and archived in the BFI Mediatheque. He’s worked with artists including The Tiger Lillies and David Hoyle at venues including Royal Court, Royal Festival Hall, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Soho Theatre, ICA, BAC and the Glastonbury, Aldeburgh and Latitude Festivals. His films have won awards at the London Short Film Festival, screened at Picturehouse and Curzon cinemas, and at festivals across the world. He’s currently producing his first feature. Nathan studied Fine Art at Oxford University.