Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing of Chinese and Dutch-American parents and grew up in the United States. Once an associate of Georgia O’Keefe, she is active in both Native and Asian American cultural movements from her home in Providence. Her previous books include Hiddenness (Whitney Museum), The Heat Bird (Burning Deck Press), Random Possession (Ishmael Reed Books), Summits Move with the Tide (Greenfield Review Press), and Fish Souls (Greenwood Press), among otherz.
Her work is known for its exploration of the complexities of cultural and political identity, an interest informed by her own experience of cultural and linguistic displacement. She was educated at Barnard, Reed, and Columbia University. After receiving her M.F.A. from Columbia in 1974, she settled in rural northern New Mexico which has remained her primary residence since then.
After receiving her degree, Berssenbrugge became active in the multi-cultural poetry movement of the 1970s along with her good friend Leslie Marmon Silko as well as Ishmael Reed, theater director Frank Chin, and political activist Kathleen Chang. Berssenbrugge taught at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, where she co-founded the internal literary journal Tyuonyi. Traveling frequently to New York City, Berssenbrugge became engaged in the rich cultural flourishing of the abstract art movement, and was influenced by New York School poets John Ashbery and James Sherry, and then the Language poets, including Barbara Guest, Anne Waldman, Charles Bernstein, as well as artist Susan Bee.
She is married to the painter Richard Tuttle, with whom she has frequently collaborated.