The Earth is What Happens
by Tim Armentrout & Jay Besemer
Tattered Pages No. 3
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"The Earth is What Happens was written several years ago and remains one of my favorite writing experiences, in spite of the fact that much of my contribution was born from some of the worst episodes of my life. I have yet to meet Jay Besemer in person, but I have an incredible bond with this particular human being because of the collaborative efforts we chose to accept, and from the work that seemed destined to be bound together. Pun intended.
I met Dan Godston in a bar after the And Now conference in Buffalo New York in 2009 and started discussing the poetry community in West Virginia. I mentioned feelings of alienation, how my state held so much talent going unnoticed, and how important it was to me to help change that, and he immediately rattled off names of people he knew that I should, ways to connect, and I knew that I had met someone making a most genuine effort to bring people together. He later invited me to participate in Chicago Calling, twice, and it was the second time that Jay and I found ourselves with the task of producing a body of work together even though we had never met, or even heard of one another. Let alone the vast differences in our immediate geographies, experiences, stories. But in writing we discover a shared experience that blurs boundaries, and so I found myself quickly building something with Jay. Of anything I’ve written, I think this came out more seamless, more fluid, and more connected, regardless of the fact that I have never been in the same room as my collaborator. We clearly shared a space, one that allows the truth of mistakes and the long embodiment of healing. One that evokes recognition of the inherent connections that we all too often ignore."
"The Earth Is What Happens happened with the catalyst of a Chicago Calling Arts Festival long-distance collaboration. Tim and I were happily tumbled into spiritual proximity and shared a kind of portable room we built as we went. Both of us grappled with intense life developments while building-sharing-writing together. This chapbook is a result.
That was many years ago. Now, looking back through the poems, I find I can’t easily distinguish Tim’s words from my own. That’s as it should be."
About the Authors
Tim Armentrout is a poet and performance artist from West Virginia. He is the author of Someone Screaming Out (Spuyten Duyvil 2016) and All This Falling Away (Dusie 2007). His writing has appeared previously in Kestrel, Slumgullion, Not Enough Night, Holler, and several other small press publications.
Jay Besemer is a poet, performer, artist and editor whose books and chapbooks include Crybaby City (Spuyten Duyvil), Telephone, Chelate (both Brooklyn Arts Press), A New Territory Sought (Moria), Aster to Daylily (Damask Press) and Object with Man’s Face (Rain Taxi Ohm Editions). He is a finalist for the 2017 Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature. Jay is a contributing editor with The Operating System. Look for him on Twitter @divinetailor and on Tumblr http://jaybesemer.tumblr.com.
June 9, 2017
July 23, 2017
Praise for The Earth is What Happens
"In The Earth Is What Happens, Armentrout and Besemer have created a tenderly scientific manual for the body isolate, dispatches from a Royal Society of one still investigating, still questioning on the prairie edge of America’s consciousness. Here, among the celestial synapses, is found the point where an ellipsis becomes an elliptical orbit, an amber toad, a talisman of electricity, the optics of another oblivious aftermath."
–Simeon Barry, author of Monograph (University of Georgia Press)
"I imagine Armentrout & Besemer circling the small space they have created for themselves, hurling words back and forth across a table, a bed, a corral, a dance floor, a marriage, the universe. All in fun, of course, but not quite. The toss sometimes underhand, lobbed loosely at the other and then back again overhand, fast and hard at the face. I can hear one ask the other, 'What will you make of this?' Then, the response. And, seemingly without having planned it at all, the work 'coalesces into its self-pluralizing unity.'"
–Sarah Elkins, Director of Marketing Operations with PracticeLink
Co-Editor of Outrider Magazine
"In the prose word sentence movements of THE EARTH IS WHAT HAPPENS Tim Armentrout and Jay Besemer bring together the human drama and the cosmos’ holographic sheen...this collaborative kaleidoscope collage overflows...glimmer and hope and disaster life excesses… and there’s SUSPENSE! and it’s SPECTRAL! the psychological fathoming of a THIRD MIND!...these juxtaposed moments incessantly provoking reading yr own repression’s desire...Take this pome on! find yourself holding it! reading it! You’ll become something else! SOMEONE ELSE!"
–Jared Hayes, author of The Dead Love (Black Radish Books)