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About this poet

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born on October 5, 1947 in her mother's native city of Beijing, in China. Her father, the son of Dutch immigrants to the U.S., met her mother while working at the American Embassy in Chungking. While Berssenbrugge was still a baby, the family moved to the U.S. where she grew up in Massachusetts. She attended Barnard College for a year before transferring to Reed College, where she earned her B.A. in 1969, followed by an M.F.A from Columbia University in 1973.

After graduate school, Berssenbrugge moved to New Mexico where she taught at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, and became actively involved in the local artistic community. Through frequent trips to New York City, Berssenbrugge also became deeply engaged and influenced by the city's movements of abstract artists, and New York School and Language poets, a milieu that included John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Charles Bernstein, and Anne Waldman. Her engagement led to many rich collaborations with other artists, including the creation of artist books with Richard Tuttle and Kiki Smith, and theatre works with Shi Zhen Chen, Frank Chin, Blondell Cummings, Tan Dun, and Alvin Lucier.

Berssenbrugge is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, most recently I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems (University of California Press, 2006) and Concordance (Kelsey St. Press, 2006), a collaboration with the sculptor Kiki Smith. Her other collections include Nest (2003); The Four Year Old Girl (1998);Endocrinology (1997), a collaboration with Kiki Smith; Sphericity (1993); Empathy (1989); and The Heat Bird (1983).

Characteristic of her style is a lush mix of abstract language, collaged images, cultural and political investigation, and unexpected shifts between the meditative and the particular. A review of I Love Artists in Publishers Weekly noted: "Berssenbrugge writes what might be called proofs, working sensuously off the language of science to find the divides between elements over which one has control and those over which one does not."

Berssenbrugge is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two American Book Awards, and honors from the Asian American Writers Workshop and the Western States Art Foundation. She has been a contributing editor of Conjunctions Magazine since 1978 and has taught at Brown University. She lives in New Mexico and New York City with her husband, the sculptor Richard Tuttle, and their daughter.

Concordance [Our conversation is a wing]

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, 1947

Our conversation is a wing below my consciousness, like organization in blowing cloth, eddies of water, its order of light on film with no lens.

A higher resonance of story finds its way to higher organization: data swirl into group dreams.

Then story surfaces, as if recognized; flies buzzing in your room suddenly translate to "Oh! You're crying!"

So, here I hug the old person, who's not "light" until I embrace him.

My happiness at seeing him, my French suit constitute at the interface of wing and occasion.

Postulate whether the friendship is fulfilling.

Reduce by small increments your worry about the nature of compassion or the chill of emotional identification among girlfriends, your wish to be held in the consciousness of another, like a person waiting for you to wake.

Postulate the wave nature of wanting him to wait (white space) and the quanta of fractal conflict, point to point, along the outline of a petal, shore from a small boat.

Words spoken with force create particles.

He calls the location of accidents a morphic field; their recurrence is resonance, as of an archetype with the vibration of a seed.

My last thoughts were bitter and helpless.

Friends witnessing grief enter your consciousness, illuminating your form, so quiet comes.

From Concordance, poems by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, visual images by Kiki Smith. Copyright © 2006 by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Kelsey Street Press. Used by permission.

From Concordance, poems by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, visual images by Kiki Smith. Copyright © 2006 by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Kelsey Street Press. Used by permission.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in 1947 in her mother's native city of

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Our conversation is a wing below my consciousness, like organization in blowing cloth, eddies of water, its order of light on film with no lens.

A higher resonance of story finds its way to higher organization: data swirl into group dreams.

Then story surfaces, as if recognized; flies buzzing in your

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