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Thinking Its PresenceForm, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry$
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Dorothy J. Wang

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804783651

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804783651.001.0001

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Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Poetics of Contingency and Relationality

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Poetics of Contingency and Relationality

(p.244) Seven Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Poetics of Contingency and Relationality
Thinking Its Presence

Dorothy J. Wang

Stanford University Press

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s poetry is interested in amorphous, seemingly immaterial states, such as emotions and natural phenomena. She is equally interested in the issue of ethnic identity and ’mother tongue,’ as she herself has explicitly stated. It is in her use of a syntax of conditionality that this Beijing-born, Massachusetts-raised, mixed-race poet reveals her own contingent relationship to language, both English and Chinese, and her sense of the contingency and relationality of natural phenomena and identity. Thus while appearing abstract and largely devoid of racial markers, Berssenbrugge’s poems nonetheless strongly bear the impress of social and historical contexts, including processes of racialization and the influence of her first language—Chinese—which shaped and continue to shape her subjectivity as both an Asian American and a poet.

Keywords:   Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, syntax, racial markers, identity, language, Asian American, poetry

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