- An Ethics for the Erotic Avant-Garde: Feminism, Buddhism, and the Idea of Compassion in Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s Lyric Poetry
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 72, Number 2, Summer 2016
- pp. 83-119
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- Additional Information
This paper examines Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s feminist lyric poetry and poetics, focusing on how her writing explores the middle ground between French feminism and the Mahayana lineage of Chinese Buddhism. While scholars have discussed Berssenbrugge’s feminist consciousness and its impacts on her innovative lyric practice, little attention has been given to her life-long involvement in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. In this respect, this essay traces the development of her feminist-Buddhist (or Buddhist-feminist) writing from the 1980s through 1990s, suggesting that the Chinese Buddhist bodhisattva Guanyin, a popular female deity known as the “Goddess of Compassion,” plays a significant role when Berssenbrugge yields an antiessential form of feminist ethics. Berssenbrugge’s transnational feminist imaginary seeks to promote Guanyin’s ethics of compassion, an ethics that fleshes out the bodhisattva’s maternity and her openness to the suffering other.