by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge


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The groundbreaking poetic work by our “Mondrian in verse” (Susan Barba, Boston Review), now back in print in a newly revised edition with a new preface by the author

Empathy, first published by Station Hill Press in 1989, marked a turning point in Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry, her lines lengthening across the page like so many horizons, tuned intimately to the natural world, at once philosophical, lush, and rhythmic. As she writes in the new preface for this edition, “I believe we’re born with the capacity for sensing emotional nuance around us. Not only of beloved persons nearby, but of people we don’t know—globally—and also of animals, plants, clouds, rocks.” In these poems, empathy not only becomes the space of one person inside another, but of one element—water, fog—one place—tundra, desert mesa—one animal—the swan—as the locus of human illumination and desire. Jackson MacLow wrote that the poetry in this collection “moves from ‘inner’ phenomena to ones coming from the ‘external’ world and back again with breathtaking evenness” and that the poet herself “is neither ‘objectivist’ nor ‘subjectivist’ but a poet of the whole consciousness.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780811229401
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 02/25/2020
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 770,401
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in 1947 in China. 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. 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). 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.

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