This week we are delighted to showcase the first of five festival commissions on the theme My Experience of Isolation.

James McDermott is a queer playwright and poet whose plays are published by Samuel French and whose debut poetry collection Manatomy is published by Burning Eye Books in August. James was recently short-listed for Outspoken's Prize for Poetry 2020 in the Performance Category.

For SMHAF he has written and recorded two performance poems exploring the experiences of being an LGBTQ person during lockdown, a situation that has separated many people from supportive communities and safe spaces.

The Ballad For The Lock Down Queer Kid

James says: “The Ballad For The Lock Down Queer Kid is inspired by LGBTQ friends of mine who, thanks to lockdown, have had to leave their safe spaces and communities to return home to unsupportive or prejudiced families. I hope the poem helps LGBTQ people in such situations feel seen and less alone during this time."

Connection

“Connection was inspired by how LGBTQ friends and I have changed how we use apps and the Internet in lockdown. Pre-quarantine, we used apps to distract ourselves from the world; in lockdown, we've used apps to connect with each other, to meet new friends when we're away from communities and to share work online. I hope the poem suggests to readers new ways they can use social media platforms and digital technology to connect with the world during this lonely time.”