Press release: The HIV/AIDS global epidemic and stigma of the 1980s onwards, and the road to queer equality on the Isle of Man are tackled in two poetry pamphlets from Polari Press.

13 February 2023. For immediate release.

Today, independent queer publisher Polari Press has announced two poetry pamphlet releases: ‘Walking Contagions’ by Dale Booton, and ‘Isle of Sin’ by Simon Maddrell.

Walking Contagions

Beginning with a routine sexual health check-up before delving into the depths of the 1980s, Walking Contagions explores the emerging AIDS crisis and the subsequent fear and loneliness that accompanied it. With a reflection on community and activism, these poems emphasise the stigmas around HIV/AIDS while banishing the heteronormative expectations of adulthood and sexuality: Gay men are not old at thirty; even within a community, there can still be overwhelming isolation; Grindr is not the be-all of a gay man’s life. With a defining message of education and acceptance, Walking Contagions echoes the need to continue fighting HIV stigma and reinforcing the message: “Undetectable=Untransmittable”.

“It is so amazing to be able to work with a queer press that highlights and lifts queer voices and perspectives,” said Dale Booton, author of Walking Contagions. “It so importance to explore the queer history of the AIDS crisis, and the continuing stigma and loneliness that is still apparent to, and within, our community. With a publisher such as Polari Press, queer voices and experiences will always be heard.”

Walking Contagions can be preordered here.

Isle of Sin

Simon Maddrell is a poet born in the Isle of Man and in Isle of Sin he pays tribute to Manx actor Dursley McLinden and explores the fight for queer rights on the Crown Dependency during the 80s and early 90s, which resulted in the partial legalisation of sex between men in 1992 – 25 years after the UK.
Split into three sections, Isle of Sin celebrates the life of Manx actor, singer and dancer Dursley McLinden (1965–1995) who died of AIDS-related illness and was an inspiration for the character Ritchie Tozer (played by Olly Alexander) in It’s a Sin, the Channel 4 drama by Russell T Davies. The second section pays tribute to the activism of prominent gay rights campaigner Alan Shea, and highlights the homophobia and dubious police practices of the time. Thirdly, Maddrell acknowledges the progress that the island has made using erasure poems from the recent government and police apologies and a speech by the island’s own Heartstopper, actor Joe Locke.

Isle of Sin can be preordered here.

“Announcing these two poetry pamphlets during LGBT History Month feels very prescient as they discuss both the shared struggle for queer equality and survival during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, in the British Islands,” said founder Peter Collins. “In both pamphlets, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a thread that weaves throughout the wider stories and contexts in attaining gay rights of the past forty years. Through vibrant and affecting writing of Simon and Dale, these poems offer provoking and poignant ways for these issues to be discussed.”

Both pamphlets will be released in March 2023, and are available as a Bundle for £16 if ordered before the end of March.

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Polari Press was established in 2020 and has released nine books by queer authors over the past two years including art, poetry and memoir. Taking its name from the secret queer slang Polari, it is an independent publishing house and design studio which seeks out hidden voices and helps them be heard.

Dale Booton (he/him) is a queer poet from Birmingham. His poetry has been published in various places, including: Verve; Young Poets Network; Queerlings; The North; and Muswell Press; and forthcoming with Magma and Salò Press. Last year he hosted Young Poets Takeover at Verve Poetry Festival.

Simon Maddrell (he/they) is a queer Manx poet living in Brighton and Hove. He is published in sixteen anthologies and over eighty publications including: AMBIT; Butcher’s Dog; The Moth; The Rialto; Poetry Wales; Stand; and Under the Radar. In 2020, Simon’s debut, Throatbone, was published by UnCollected Press and Queerfella jointly-won The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition. Simon’s fourth pamphlet, The Whole Island, will be published by Valley Press in July 2023.