a photo of VIRGINS book


Jesse Darling

They say we aren’t built for it. This species or another.
Crewcut & fatigued, a swollen head on the box says thin-lipped,
When most people talk about killing,
they are like virgins talking about sex.

Experiential and mapped, VIRGINS takes us on car rides, through hotel rooms and up close to meat viscera and enamel structures. Oscillating through binaries, concepts of innocence and experience are dragged by their creaturely haunches by ‘gathered clumps’ of characters who play, fight, bathe, fuck and browse on the burning pyre of old ideas.

‘Jesse Darling’s poems sing from the scrappy corners where life still lives. And they pray. Darling reminds us that between the beer and a cigarette there’s always a moment to genuflect on the street. There’s always a fire to stand around, too, bottoms up to the miracle.’

— Anne Boyer

‘Scratchy, incisive and alert to both the bullshit and beauty of living, VIRGINS re-routes us by its fresh nerve endings, ready for tender connection. Darling’s voice reaches beyond poetry’s mannerisms and ideals, taking a curve of its own, gnawing, blurting and singing, with its surreal, slant scrutiny, both wise and vulnerable. Poetry written out of life is rarely so alive.’

— Jack Underwood

‘Experimental, deep-thinking and disruptive, VIRGINS is a vital collection that brilliantly challenges modes of desire, politics and representation.’

—Sinéad Gleeson

‘Jesse Darling creates a post-poetry landscape where constructs are liberated, overthrown, and fed back into the stuttering gullet of its own machinery. While Darling may proclaim to ‘no longer care about being beautiful’, this collection refuses to obey its creator, forging new blueprints on sex, loss, love, and everything in between.

A funeral of much, and a celebration of what’s left waiting for salvation, VIRGINS is a gut-wrenching, honest, and combustible ghost in the gas tank.’

—Dean Rhetoric

VIRGINS is a mnemonic playlist in the washer-dryer drum-hum of trial and error; the experiment in Poetry of poetry’s worldliness, debauchery, and angst. If we “walk the broken line,” as JD suggests, it’s something we do together through underground and under-resourced subculture formations. These are poems to take with you and read aloud in transit, in public spaces, or quietly to your ride and die comrades. These are poems for the real ones.’
—Ziddy Ibn Sharam

VIRGINS is a beautiful irreverent thing that seems constantly to be pulling its language simultaneously towards tenderness and harshness. In the cold light of day, we wonder whether the two might be more similar than we think. It reaches back into something beyond the frame. It welds the dirty and the handsome hardcore.’


Jesse Darling is an artist working in sculpture, installation, video, drawing, text, sound and performance. He lives and works in Berlin, and has received commissions from MoMA Warsaw, The Serpentine Gallery, London, and Volksbühne, Berlin, among others. Drawing on personal experiences as well as history and counter histories, their work addresses the fallibility, adaptability and vulnerability of living beings, societies and technologies: the condition of being a body caught in the structures of the social and material world.

Designed by Chaosmos Studios

Printed in the UK

Second, revised edition with
screen-printed dust-jacket

170mm x 212mm

ISBN: 978-1-80352-273-9

£10 + p&p