Men & Sleep
by Jay Besemer

100 pages
Publication date: 4/4/2023
ISBN 978-1-950987-27-6
$17 (Order Online)

Cover art: Jay Besemer, “Night of the Divine Taylor,” collage

Composed using words chosen from children’s early-mid 20th century readers and from early 20th century natural history textbooks, MEN & SLEEP exposes hidden currents and meanings in teaching materials from the past. The two long poems presented in this volume draw readers into a strange yet quotidian world of ordinary wonder and transformation. Inhabiting creaturely life & plant/animal co-embodiment–queering sexual, gender & even species distinctions–this book invites readers to mix (in) their own evanescent experiences. Moving beyond the limits of linear narrative or cause and effect, MEN & SLEEP requests and makes space for repeated engagements, just as if readers were exploring a forest or a marsh. When it’s never quite clear whether the being you encounter here is a human, a tree, an insect or some unique combination of all of these, how do you behave? How does their behavior impact you? How do you both change in the encounter? Perhaps these questions will help MEN & SLEEP reveal itself to you.

Among the leaves a root.
A great wonder awakens,
great eyes stand open in the wood—
walk through rottenness
all red to sprain & kill.
In parks, various large limbs, wounded growths, woody tissues.
from “The Book of Trees”

About the Author

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 and on social media, mostly Twitter and occasionally Tumblr and Mastodon.

Can poetry be both mysterious and physical? I am utterly intrigued by Jay Besemer’s Men & Sleep. It is an immersive book that hums with the sensuality of “spore-filled organs” as it meditates on the relationship between language, masculinity and nature. While it is a book of trees, it’s also a decidedly horizontal book: we creep through the mosses and leaves, smelling the “puzzling odor.” —Johannes Göransson