Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 17 (Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge)


The Heat Bird
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Berssenbrugge, Mei-Mei
The Heat Bird


Not sure where I bought this early-to-mid career (1983) offering from Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge. I read it when I bought it, but I don't have a strong memory of this particular book. It's different stylistically than some of her books from the 90's, which were printed on much larger sheets of paper in order to accommodate the long, lush lines. These poems are tighter, neater, more contained. 

I first saw her read in 1996 or 7 at the Asian American Writers Workshop in NYC -- not sure if it is still there, but at the time it was in a building on St. Mark's Place and the reading took place in a room in the basement. I remember being quite taken with her reading, despite the fact that she is extremely soft-spoken. Everyone seemed to be leaning forward in their chairs to hear every word. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing to be doing at a poetry reading now and again.

This is the first section of the first poem sequence in this book, entitled "Pack Rat Sieve":

Never mind if he calls, the places you get
through inwardness take time, and to drift
down to the shore of the island, you know
by the sand moving, even the coarse sand here
It's hard to say if you can even stand up, there
but there is blue sky, and blue water tipping up
the same distance from you as your face. Its face
goes further behind the eyes, without weight
or haze, and the horizon is just a change where
from going deep you go wider, but go

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