Full program video: Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Andrea Abi-Karam, and Ching-In Chen: December 13, 2019
Video highlight clips: "My mother tongue, Chinese, has an immemorial history before me...." Mei-mei Berssenbrugge reads from Nest | "I used to work in a lab with rats for a long time, a memory lab...." Andrea Abi-Karam reads from EXTRATRANSMISSION | "island / where these things / origin..." Ching-In Chen reads from recombinant
The Poetry Center joins Kelsey St. Press for a public celebration of the press's 45th Anniversary, with featured readings by poets Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Ching-In Chen, and Andrea Abi-Karam. Kelsey Street Press was founded in 1974 to address the marginalization of women writers by small press and mainstream publishers. Forty-five years later, the press, still located in the East Bay, remains true to its commitment to bring out a wide range of voices, including the gifted work of trans and genderqueer authors. Hosted by McRoskey Mattress Co., in their third-floor loft space, this event is co-sponsored by The Poetry Center, Kelsey St. Press and The Green Arcade, and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Free and open to the public.
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing, grew up in Massachusetts, and lives in northern New Mexico. She has published twelve books of poetry, including five books with Kelsey St Press. Recent works include I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems and A Lit Cloud, a collaboration with artist Kiki Smith. Her latest book, A Treatise on Stars, is forthcoming from New Directions, along with a new edition of Empathy.
Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart's Traffic: a novel in poems (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009), recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017; 2018 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Transgender Poetry), to make black paper sing (speCt! Books, 2019), and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (forthcoming from Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011; AK Press 2016) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009). Born of Chinese immigrants, they have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Callaloo, Can Serrat, Storyknife, and Imagining America and are a member of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation. A community organizer, they have worked in Asian American communities in San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside and Boston. In Autumn 2019, they join the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell as an assistant professor. More at chinginchen.com
Andrea Abi-Karam is an arab-american genderqueer punk poet-performer cyborg, writing on the art of killing bros, the intricacies of cyborg bodies, trauma & delayed healing. Their chapbook, THE AFTERMATH (Commune Editions, 2016; download the PDF), attempts to queer Fanon’s vision of how poetry fails to inspire revolution. Andrea's first book, EXTRATRANSMISSION (Kelsey Street Press, 2019), is a poetic critique of the U.S. military's role in the War on Terror. They toured with Sister Spit 2018 and live in New York.