Thursday, October 5, 2006

A Conversation with Poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

The Academy of American Poets has posted parts of an interview with Mei-mei Berssenbrugge at their website. Berssenbrugge talks about creativity and working in the margins.

Here is some of the text:
LH: I am especially interested in your use of the collage method, which includes the use of photographs, laid out on a table along with words and other images. Are you still working in this manner, as in, say, Nest?

MB: My process has evolved slowly. I find books that are contingent to my idea. I like French philosophy, Deleuze, Derrida. I like historic Buddhist texts – anything I read that strikes me as pertinent to my poem I underline. Then I print the notes and cut them out. I add pictures that seem to fit in some way, without questioning too deeply. Sometimes I take Polaroids. It's an unconscious process. When I'm ready to write, I arrange these pieces of text, photos, notes across a big table and compose the poem. I used to appropriate texts directly. Now I alter them more. I work from a "map" of the poem, and I find it's a good way to get more breadth, more horizontality. I also find that the light and landscape in New Mexico, where I live, inspires horizontality.

In "Nest," the title poem of my recent collection, I decided to write about how, in the margin, fertile things happen. When things are fixed, things can't grow. I was specifically interested in the minor mode, instead of a major, victorious tone. I was interested in the shadows, the not-quite-successful – to re-cast failure as convex, positive. I had the urge to explore this minor key and also to include the audience. I used to think just about what "I" wanted to write. Now I've started to think about my audience, what I call the genius of the audience. I was interested in not looking down on that and seeing where I could go. I'm trying to discern what people 'like.'
Read the whole interview.

No comments: