Poetry. LGBT Studies. "TELEPHONE is a game and a snake on the wall, and now it's a book by Jen Besemer. Structured as a solo act of call-and-response, these poems talk to each other and to you. Fully situated in the contemporary moment, these small prose blocks function as windows looking out at American highways, noticing wildflowers instead of cars, urging us to 'wake, you sleepers : mate your shoes.' Besemer highlights the violence in myths of happiness: 'make a forest with your hands : do you want the wolf : do you want the woodcutter...children forced into iron dresses & lead slippers : to grow up half dead with worry over shapes & sizes & the presence or absence that will never fully define us.' Here are 'borders to be crossed & kissed,' landscapes and bodies to reclaim: 'the bulge in my trousers is that blip in spacetime.'"—Carol Guess
"What is it to collaborate with yourself? What embodiment activations does that actually require? Do you feel that you are going crazy? After a while, does all that you hear make you think that you are hearing things? Is it lonely to play call and response with yourself? Does lone-TELEPHONE wrack your senses? Are you sweating as you mumble and run back and forth between the standing stones (so that you can intake breath and then let it out, from each position) in hopes of a solo-contour? Is solo-contour a paradox? I see Besemer's TELEPHONE as collaborated solo-contour bordering on body lyricism. There is certainly content in here, but Besemer keeps the content skewed, inverted, and interrupted in ways that allow us to remain uncomfortable, perhaps forever standing—like a Sadhu—or running back and forth between the stones ourselves: 'erupts in compact pregnancies,' 'learn to mistrust other men's fingers,' 'feel your memory become a series of seismic events.' The premise of TELEPHONE is its evidence; it is specific enough that loving and highly personal poise can be strengthened by way of it. Dear collaborated solo-contour: one plus one does not always equal two; sometimes one plus one equals a stronger one."—j/j hastain
"Jen Besemer's TELEPHONE presents the reader with amuse-bouche after amuse-bouche. The sly poems open the literary palate to the complex flavors of the everyday in order to prepare us for overtones of chaos and undertones of cosmos. Reading any of these poems enhances the feast of all of these poems."—Nicholas Alexander Hayes
"TELEPHONE is the kind of poetry I'm most attracted to. First of all, it's about an idea that is pursued in language in full knowledge that language can only attempt to approach ideas. Also knowing that language discovers meaning within itself once put into motion. Besemer knows how to set the conditions for the best kinds of discoveries about the world and language simultaneously, and she leaves room for you to make your own. You won't want to put this TELEPHONE down. You'll want to become the receiver."—Laura Goldstein
"TELEPHONE initiates a series of observations and imaginings-nimble, discrete juxtapositions. One digital voice frays into two. Calls are received and then telegraphed to another voice/location. Language is compacted into pulsations/packets or extended into streaming exploratory movements. A solo call and response that demands the reader's attention and participation; Besemer writes intrigue, interest, and delight."—Max Wolf Valerio
Poet and artist Jay Besemer is the author of numerous poetry collections, including the double chapbook Wounded Buildings/Simple Machines (Another New Calligraphy 2022) and Theories of Performance (The Lettered Streets Press, 2020). He is also the author of a long-form hybrid essay, On Being Half-Imaginary (Beir Bua Press, forthcoming 2024). He was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Transgender Poetry, and a finalist for the 2017 Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature. Jay was included in the groundbreaking anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Find him online at www.jaybesemer.net and on social media, mostly Twitter and occasionally Tumblr and Mastodon.
Author City: CHICAGO, IL USA