Sat, Oct 10 | Online via YouTube Premiere

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Charles Bernstein

Join us for an evening of poetry and (virtual) community. $5 suggested donation.
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Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Charles Bernstein

Time & Location

Oct 10, 2020, 6:00 PM MST
Online via YouTube Premiere

About the Event

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge 

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing, the daughter of a Chinese mother and an American father who was the son of Dutch immigrants. Her mother was a mathematician, and her maternal grandmother received a college education in prerevolutionary China. Her father was employed at the American Embassy in Chungking, and later pursued Far Eastern studies at Harvard University. Her family moved to the United States when she was a year old. She earned a BA from Reed College and an MFA from Columbia University.   Berssenbrugge is the author of  fourteen books of poetry, most recently A Treatise on Stars (New Directions, 2020). Her other works include The Heat Bird (1983), winner of the American Book Award; Empathy (1989), winner of the PEN West Award; Sphericity (1993); Endocrinology (1997), a collaboration with the artist Kiki Smith; Four Year Old Girl (1998), winner of the Western States Book Award; Nest (2003); I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems (2006); and Hello, the Roses (2013).   Berssenbrugge’s characteristically long-lined poems combine abstract statements and specific observation; they reveal her knowledge of philosophy, architecture, and science as well as her affinity for the New Mexico landscape. Poet Ben Lerner, reviewing I Love Artists for Rain Taxi, commented: “[F]or four decades, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge has been writing poems that seek to make the process of perception perceptible.”   Berssenbrugge has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and in New York City. In both locations she has been influenced by and collaborated with local visual artists, including Kiki Smith and Richard Tuttle, her husband. She has also been associated with the New York School of poets and the Language poets.   Berssenbrugge has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two American Book Awards, and honors from the Western States Art Foundation and the Asian American Writers Workshop. She lives in New Mexico.

Charles Bernstein

Poet, essayist, theorist, and scholar Charles Bernstein was born in New York City in 1950. He is a foundational member and leading practitioner of Language poetry.  Bernstein was educated at the Bronx High School of Science and at Harvard University, where he studied philosophy with Stanley Cavell and wrote his final thesis on Gertrude Stein and Ludwig Wittgenstein. In the mid-1970s Bernstein became active in the experimental poetry scenes in New York and San Francisco, not only as a poet, but also as an editor, publisher, and theorist. With visual artist and wife Susan Bee, Bernstein published several now well-known poets whose work is associated with Language writing. Between 1978-1981, with fellow poet Bruce Andrews, he published L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine, which became a forum for writing that blurred, confused, and denied the boundary between poetry and critical writing about poetry. Bernstein’s own poetic work explores the wide-ranging uses of language within diverse social contexts. His poetry combines the language of politics, popular culture, advertising, literary jargon, corporate-speak, and myriad others to show the ways in which language and culture are mutually constructive and interdependent. As Bernstein says in an interview with Bradford Senning: “I want to engage the materials of the culture, derange them as they have deranged me, sound them out, as they sound me out.” Bernstein’s writing is serious, engaging, and critical, while also being playful, irreverent and deeply humorous.  Since the 1970s Bernstein has published dozens of books, including poetry and essay collections, pamphlets, translations, collaborations, and libretti. His poetry has been widely anthologized and translated, and it has appeared in over 500 magazines and periodicals.  In addition to his work as a poet, Bernstein is a leading scholar and educator of poetry. From 1990 to 2003, he was David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the State University of New York at Buffalo and Director of the Poetics Program, which he co-founded with Robert Creeley. At SUNY Buffalo, he co-founded the Electronic Poetry Center with Loss Glazier (epc.buffalo.edu), and in 2002, he was appointed SUNY Distinguished Professor, the university’s highest rank. Bernstein is currently Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University Pennsylvania. With Al Filreis, he is the co-founder and co-editor of PENNsound (writing.upenn.edu/pennsound), an extensive archive of recorded poetry.  Bernstein was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2006. Other awards and honors include The 1999 Roy Harvy Pearce / Archive for New Poetry Prize of the University of California, San Diego; the University of Pennsylvania Dean’s Award for Innovative Teaching; a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship; and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship.

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