I’ve always loved Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry. I have to slow down and mull as I read it. It has a quality of complexity, but one I find enticing. It might be a cousin to Language School, but is also very original, and sensual as well as abstract. Here is part of an excellent interview with the poet.
MB: I think of a poem as an energetic whole, because the way I reach an expression of energy is through language. I definitely think about the so-called idea or meaning of a poem, but for me, it is more about keeping the energy high. I also want to mention that when I write a poem, I often have no idea of what I’ve said. I make assemblages of notes and put them together, but it’s at the unconscious level that composition occurs, and I think there are more profound gestalts of understanding to be found that way. So I am not somebody who thinks complex thoughts by my will; I find them. A lot of people now say that there are more neurons in the heart than there are in the brain.
I’m still alive,
people in my stories,
those I loved
or half loved,
and I’m at the intersection
of Juanita Street
yellow leaves blowing
as the keyboard intro
to “Super Freak”
comes on the car radio,
and for one moment
I have the intense
although possibly misguided
is the greatest song
and for that
because who doesn’t love
the kind of girl
you read about—
and then it all floods in
all the other songs
and also believe
to be the greatest song
and I wonder
who the fuck am I?
I don’t know.
I sent five poems to a new literary journal.
Like much of my current work, the poems are untitled.
They want short poems in one document so rather than use *** or THE END I simply numbered them.
This is what I got back:
Please give poems suitable poetic titles before submitting again.
How likely is it I’ll submit again? Not very!
Let’s just say you have just bought .2 acres off of Agua Fria in a zone 3 residential neighborhood in Santa Fe. (Let’s say you are me!). And you don’t yet know exactly what the city will allow, or how much budget you have. But you have a vision to put up a poetry garden–text installed in numerous ways on this wild sunny lot. How would you hardscape? Would you add a little house or ramadas? Would the feeling be wet or dry?
For the moment–and this is that last moment–let’s leave practicalities out it. Please go wild! I need your fresh ideas, most particularly about how to put poetry text INTO a setting.
Soon enough I’ll be limited by realities, so now is time to dream.
Thank you! Do post below in comments section.
Without so much as a sack of dust,
Empty-handed, the wind
Flees south like a refugee,
Only a few days ahead of winter.
Light spatters on stagnant pond water
Like grease on a skillet—
Cast iron, the kind old-timers
Cherished and refused to scrub clean.
Mid-morning train in the distance:
Lonelier than midnight, somehow,
Despite coffee and the raucous birds
That don’t even notice it.
The first bird of the morning rasps
Some blue notes in a smoker’s voice,
Unanswered: Not up early,
But a lounge singer home late.
I can remember the first time I read Bluebird, by Charles Bukowski. I was sitting on the floor amidst a loud group of young people, drunk on youth and whiskey. But this poem. It made all the noise in the room, all the laughter and gossip, come to a halt. My heart hit the pause button on this life and I fell into his words. They became entangled within me. They took my breath and tucked it away in some old heartache. His words made me stop. I devoured every single letter, every syllable, and sentence. This. This is how I want the words that I weave to be experienced.