vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.
I always appreciate hearing poets talk about what led them to write a particular poem, especially in periods when I’m struggling to write, confronted by the blank page without a place to begin. In this 1993 reading, Mei-mei Berssenbruge describes the impetus for her poem “Chinese Space”: A remembered drawing her mother made of the floorplan of the house where Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing. The poem moves through the house, revealing and exploring what Berssenbrugge describes in her introduction as different cultures’ varying understandings of space. The poem also speaks to the fragmentary nature of recollection: “Human memory as a part of unfinished nature is provided for the experience of your unfinished existence,” the poem concludes.