Proudly named after what was once and may still be the only gay bar in Colorado Springs, Club Q is a collection of poems contending with rejection, belonging, and the spiritual warfare of growing up a gay Evangelical Christian.
Club Q won the 15th Annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and will be published by Waywiser Press in Fall 2020. Learn more about the book at Waywiser's website.
PRAISE FOR CLUB Q
"The book is in part a quest or query of the quotidian, guided by formalist play with the sestina, self-portraits, persona poems, terza rima, and references to spelling bees, Scrabble clubs, bingo, and arcades. It is a powerful, playful book that catalogs the precise imprecision of our human situation. Club Q is a place where 'Heaven is a chorus boy… if you are very good, you might get him for Christmas. He is a pony with beautiful haunches. He does not love you.'"
"Club Q is a startling book. It is cleverly conceived, formally deft, musically resourceful. It is also flamboyantly gay, the queerest of queer poetry books—it keeps finding closets to shred—and takes special pleasure in its literary outings and exposures, its urban scenes and outposts. I like the way it nods to Wallace Stevens and James Merrill, who claimed that he was ‘as American as lemon chiffon pie,’ and takes wordplay at its word, mining the language to see what it will yield … James Davis loves shimmering surfaces, linguistic games. But his virtuoso formal strategies only partly succeed in hiding the pain of a lonely, misunderstood childhood growing up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, dogged by malls and megachurches, shadowed by a U. S. Military base … In this book, we can trace some of the ways that a misfit kid who once sat in tears in silent protest grows up to become a gay man looking for a way to transcend his isolation and find community. He seeks a refuge. That’s why Q becomes a Club…. James Davis has a fresh voice and a witty, inclusive mission, and it gives me great pleasure to welcome this book into the world. I’m eager to invite you to a new democratic venue, which is now open: Club Q."
—from Edward Hirsch’s foreword
"Club Q is an elegant, unsparing book of inquiry, where ‘curiosity / is the recognition of ignorance / as a kind of sickness.’ One eyebrow cocked, queer as fuck, James Davis lays bare our various longings to connect, and the attendant absurdity: men in a hotel room who ‘shared a queen / and left no stain’; the internet that, ‘like water, / transmits the smell of blood in all directions.’ This droll and formally promiscuous poet lets ‘desire // italicize our somberest sentiments.’ It’s hard not to love this nerdy, sexy, vulnerable first book."
Reading James Davis’ Club Q reminds me of slipping, long ago, into that mysterious Houston bar Marfreless (which literally possessed no address): once inside the utterly dark, soft ambiance, you felt your way through its space to settle onto the most forgiving of couches, down stiff drinks, luxuriate in the most animated and revealing of conversations. Club Q is one of the funniest and sharpest books of poems I’ve read in a long time. James Davis possesses a killer intellect, and his formal chops are bar none.
"In this incredible debut, James Davis catalogs the excesses and deficits of American culture, from the schlock of millennial childhoods (Fruitopia! Alpha-Bits! Street Fighter II!) to the confounding terms of our present moment, in which ‘creative is a noun.’ These ingenious poems tackle sticky questions about family and class, and what it means to be ‘queer / in a military town where cadets / count out football scores in pushups.’ They also celebrate letters and words themselves—the sheer abundance of language and the worlds it makes possible. Club Q is funny and wise, and it blew me away."