jay/jen besemer - gorgeous hybrids and recombinant poetry

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Four Tips for Working with Editors
I am guest-editing a special issue of NERVE LANTERN with Joel Allegretti!
Register for My Four-Week Poetry Class at Spudnik Press; In Conjunction with Printer's Ball 2015 PUSH & PULL !
New Interview up at Rain Taxi (and a review I wrote, too)
David London's Magic Outside The Box in Chicago - April 22, 2014!


"silicone" vs. "silicon"
Absinthe & Zygote Series
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The Querist of Forms
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Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
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The Querist of Forms

art practice: issues and challenges

hy-performance hyperformance

In an alternate universe, I am at the University of Southern California earning an MFA in Acting.  Inthis universe, however, I am slowly coming to realize the lifelong importance of performance to my artistic practice.  When I say lifelong, I mean from the age of about 9 onward, to the present.  I used to act when I was a kid.  When I was 15, some friends of mine and I wrote and produced aStar Wars-themed radio play, winning a contest and bringing geeky honor to our already geeky honors high school.

Looking for Lew

 Note: This essay was written after re-reading the second printing of the original edition of Lew Welch's collected poems,Ring of Bone, published in 1979 by Grey Fox Press. A new expanded edition, with a preface by Gary Snyder, was published in 2012 by City Lights. 

How can I even start to discuss the widespread fascination with poets who die young and tragically, either by their own direct hand or by the workings of madness or addiction? What can possibly provide reassurance—to poets, to non-poets—in these biographies of loss?

Tagged: The Next Big Thing Blog Interview Project

I was tagged by my dear friend and collaboratorj/j hastainto participate in the ongoing blog interview project, "The Next Big Thing."  For this project, I am to respond on my blog to the same questions j/j used, then tag five others to do the same on their blogs--or to guest blog here-- each of whom then tag five others themselves. Here, the questions refer to one of my forthcoming books.  And I will add names and links to the blogs of the authors I "tag" right here, as they agree to participate:

I want to teach what I don't know.

Last night I was very privileged to be able to participate in Miguel Gutierrez's performance/movement workshop, "Ineffable Intangible Sensational" atDefibrillator. It felt transformative in so many ways, and the psychic dust has yet to settle, so to speak.  But one thing that I want to comment on immediately is an idea stemming from a conversation we had in a discussion period.  I had asked Miguel if he saw teaching workshops as part of his own research process--and what I meant, basically, was whether that kind of teaching was important to his life as a maker of art.

The Querist of Forms: Polaroiding in Public

Polaroiding in Public 

Photography is ubiquitous in the wake of the "digital revolution." Versatile, powerful cameras are standard equipment on devices and tools from phones to vehicles. These days, no one looks twice at someone holding their phone or phone-sized camera up in the most public, everyday places: restaurants, museums, buses and subway trains, the street, the grocery store, school, etc. A traditional-looking DSLR--with its "pro" sign value, its documentary seriousness and its satisfying heft--no longer generates much interest among spectators.

The Many Lives of a Text

This post starts an intermittent series of brief essays on poetics and on the practice of poetry. Look for other essays under the series titleThe Querist of Forms.


One piece of writing can have many lives.  In commercial or academic culture it's been traditional to see the book publication as the end goal--and somehow the "realest" form--of any text.  But even the form or version of a text that is printed in a book is not necessarily the final version.

The Last Question

The Last Question

In May 1929, the final issue appeared of the seminal art and literary magazine,The Little Review.  It was devoted to the results of a questionnaire that the editors--Jane Heap and Margaret Anderson--had distributed to (as stated) "more than fifty of the foremost men in the arts."  As a historical document, it is particularly fascinating, and on several levels.  Not only do we get the actual questionnaire and the actual responses, we get photographs of the respondents, and we get an overall picture of some of the feelings, ideas and beliefs of many modernists.

On Being Collectible: Artists, Writers and the Secondary Market

Recently I discovered that a copy of one of my early poetry chapbooks is available for sale through a couple of online rare/out-of-print bookselling sites. It's listed variously as a "signed first edition" and as "collectible." At first I was highly amused to see my work classified in such ways, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the descriptions are accurate. The bookiscollectible; it is not available in brick-and-mortar stores or even on my website.

The "You Said It" Department

I subscribe toBOMBMagazine, and in the current issue (Number 118, Winter 2012) I found something good in an interview with artistJohn Miller.  He makes some very articulate observations on contemporary circumstances surrounding the profession of artist, and the educational approach that (sometimes) prepares people for that profession. Here's the part of the interview that best resonates for me:

The fundamental problem with being an artist is trying to figure out how to use your time and what to do with yourself.

what a mess.

This is my desk, in my studio.
I'm looking at it.  It's full of stuff I've been working on, and tools I've been using in that work.  Sometimes it's both enticing and repellant, a place of simultaneously great comfort and great irritation.  

I've been spending too much time at it recently, but I've also been spending more time than usual away from it this past week. I've been seeing friends, going to poetry readings and performances, being more social and less studio-bound.  But it's still largely poetry/art-oriented activity.
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