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Thom Gunn : A Cool Queer Life by Michael Nott

Thom Gunn : A Cool Queer Life by Michael Nott


The eagerly awaited, no-holds-barred biography of the great poet: an intellectual maverick, sexual rebel and icon of queer literature. 


Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life is a landmark study of one of England’s — and America’s — most innovative and revolutionary poets. Michael Nott chronicles, for the first time, Gunn’s largely undocumented life: his childhood in Kent and London, his mother’s suicide, and his mind-opening education at Cambridge, where he read Shakespeare and John Donne, wrote his first book, Fighting Terms, and met the man who was to become his life partner – Mike Kitay.


In his mid-twenties, Gunn followed Kitay to America and became one of the great poet-documenters of San Francisco’s queer culture, capturing both the hippie mentality of the time and his own visceral experience of sex, drugs, and loss. Through the eighties and beyond, Gunn found himself in the midst of the AIDS crisis, recording its catastrophic impact in The Man with Night Sweats, poems that provide, too, its most poignant epitaph.


Gunn was not a confessional poet, but inseparable from his rigorous formal poetry was a ravenous embracing of life and an acute awareness of death. Michael Nott, co-editor of The Letters of Thom Gunn, draws on letters, diaries, notebooks, interviews, and Gunn’s poetry to bring us a vivid portrait of a great literary mind, sexual rebel and queer icon.




'Michael Nott's brilliant and necessary new biography Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life is a comprehensive study of a major poet's investigations of the paradoxical liberation and constraint of queer desire.' - Los Angeles Review of Books


'[Nott] has set out here to produce a work sturdy enough to support decades of future commentary on Gunn. He's succeeded-this book is everything you ever wanted to know about Thom Gunn but had not even thought about asking.' - New York Times Book Review


'The virtues of Thom Gunn: A Cool Queer Life are many: a total command of Gunn's life; a clear, though hardly idolatrous, affection for its subject; and a true critic's touch.' - The Baffler

  • Details

    Imprint: Faber & Faber

    Publication Date: 18th July 2024

    ISBN: 9780571362523

    Pages: 720

    Format: Hardback

Notice to European Customers

All European Customers: You may be required to pay a local import tax on or before delivery for parcels entering the EU. Please check your local import rules for purchases from the UK.


Germany and Republic of Ireland: Due to a high return rate of parcels, we are sadly no longer shipping to Germany and the Republic of Ireland. 

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