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The Maybe-Bird Paperback:
134 pages
Publisher: The Song Cave
(June 1, 2022)
Language: English
ISBN: ISBN 978-1-73727-755-2


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The Maybe-Bird

The Maybe-Bird marks Jennifer Elise Foerster as a visionary voice in contemporary poetry. Through a spiraling sequence of lyric poems, a cast of voices—oracles, ghosts, water—speaks to a long history of genocide, displacement, and ecological devastation. Foerster uses new poetic forms and a highly conceptual framework to build these poems from myth, memory, and historical document, resurfacing Mvskoke language and story on the palimpsest of Southeastern U.S. history. Foerster leads us on a journey through the visible and invisible landscapes of our human story, through what feels like multiple lifetimes, where we hear the language of the shifting weather, and stand on the haunted edge of the world.

Sometimes instructions return like these
sea turtles rising from extinction,
dragging their gravid shells under moonlight
as if there were still children in the stars
who were willing to return to us.

Book Reviews

"To help us know ourselves again, Jennifer Foerster has made a poem that is also a story, drawn from the Myskoke language into an intricate, but unfailingly buoyant, poetic net. Repeating lines in The Maybe-Bird act as sonic re-beginnings. They launch attempts to know a world in which we are excrutiatingly unmoored creatures. Their recurring music helps us bear the book’s hard truths for and with each other: “The passage into the interior / is riddled with masks, skins shed, hung for trade.” How is the depth held by Foerster with such ease, reminding us what language can hold, even without explaining, or giving reasons why? I am astonished: I can say “we” again with new confidence because of the undergoing this book asks us to do together, a journey made possible by the indigenous people of all of the Americas, and now made traceable by all readers willing to lend a breath. If our future as a human race can exist, I believe we can find out how to know it here."

~ Kaite Peterson

"In The Maybe-Bird, Jennifer Elise Foerster knits language to create new and haunting ways of seeing and being in the world. These compelling and unsettling poems weave the past with our uncertain future. At turns the speaker loses faith in poems and narratives, but I trust the urgency in that doubt and that pulled me through this wonder-filled book. I’m grateful for the gift of The Maybe-Bird."

~ Sean Hill

Publisher's Weekly


When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. Edited by Joy Harjo, with LeAnne Howe and Jennifer Foerster


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When the Light of the World Was

Subdued Our Songs Came Through:

A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.
Edited by Joy Harjo, with LeAnne Howe and Jennifer Foerster

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology. 

This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize–winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.  

Editorial Reviews:

"This anthology is revelatory and stunning.… It shows the remarkable strength and diversity of Native poetry, which vitalizes all of American poetry. It is essential reading.""

~ Arthur Sze, National Book Award–winning author of Sight Lines

"To me, this book is a cartography of how Native writers have turned to poetry for centuries as a way of marking, naming, and preserving external and internal landscapes."

~ Dean Rader, "America Starts Here: On “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry." LA Review of Books


Bright Raft in the Afterweather Paperback:
80 pages
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
(February 2018)
Series: Sun Tracks Volume 82
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0-8165-3733-4


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Bright Raft in the Afterweather

In her dazzling new book, Jennifer Elise Foerster announces a frightening new truth: "the continent is dismantling." Bright Raft in the Afterweather travels the spheres of the past, present, future, and eternal time, exploring the fault lines that signal the break of humanity's consciousness from the earth.

Featuring recurring characters, settings, and motifs from her previous book, Leaving Tulsa, Foerster takes the reader on a solitary journey to the edges of the continents of mind and time to discover what makes us human. Along the way, the author surveys the intersection between natural landscapes and the urban world, baring parallels to the conflicts between Native American peoples and Western colonizers, and considering how imagination and representation can both destroy and remake our worlds. 

Foerster's captivating language and evocative imagery immerse the reader in a narrative of disorientation and reintegration. Each poem blends Foerster's refined use of language with a mythic and environmental lyricism as she explores themes of destruction, spirituality, loss, and remembrance. 

In a world wrought with ecological imbalance and grief, Foerster shows how from the devastated land of our alienation there is potential to reconnect to our origins and redefine the terms by which we inhabit humanity and the earth.

Foerster's journey transcends both geographic space and the confines of the page to live vividly in the mind of the reader.

Book Review:

Pleiades Magazine

University of Arizona Press

Publishers Weekly

New Pages

Editorial Reviews:

"We are adrift in mythic waters that hold the possibility of rebirth even as they float the remains of human destruction. We could be in San Francisco, within the mythos of a painter's creation, or walking a Greek island with time. Wherever we are in the poems, islands rise up of tremendous linguistic beauty, rendering hope from songs. The book is a bird flown free in the power of the winds."

~ Joy Harjo

"Pick this book's dark pages—befriend it—and you'll come to know Jennifer Foerster's second collection as a particularly strong chronicle of ontological strain. It's everywhere at once and also singular, very like the world it finds itself in and about. And what it enables its fortunate readers to access is not the satisfaction of so-called closure, but rather the rush and the precariousness of connection, the act, as Wallace Stevens says, 'of finding / What will suffice.'"

~ Graham Foust

"Here is a language that adjusts to—is touched and changed by—the details and registers of its worlds. I think of the dilating eye, the body interpreting light, and so, scene by scene and sense by sense, becoming. In particular, Jennifer Elise Foerster's precise and gorgeously strange, original diction is a site or result of this unending shifting. This empathic, lucid work flickers with the knowledge that under this word (place) is another word (place), evoking wonder and gratitude. '[W]alk into the greenly singular, singing / the long sight line,' she writes, and makes me remember that to read poetry is to read more than language; it is to read a body, a place, a world."

~ Aracelis Girmay

"Merging the poetic with the prophetic, Foerster offers a startling vision of how to navigate this broken world and its resilient beauty."

~ Rigoberto González

 


Leaving Tulsa Paperback:
88 pages
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
(March 21, 2013)
Series: Sun Tracks Volume 75
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0816522367
ISBN-13: 978-0816522361


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Leaving Tulsa

In her first magical collection of poetry, Jennifer Elise Foerster weaves together a mythic and geographic exploration of a woman's coming of age in a dislocated time. Leaving Tulsa, a book of road elegies and laments, travels from Oklahoma to the edges of the American continent through landscapes at once stark and lush, ancient and apocalyptic. The imagery that cycles through the poems—fire, shell, highway, wing—gives the collection a rich lyrical-dramatic texture. Each poem builds on a theme of searching for a lost "self"—an "other" America—that crosses biblical, tribal, and ecological mythologies.

In Leaving Tulsa, Foerster is not afraid of the strange or of estrangement. The narrator occupies a space in between and navigates the offbeat experiences of a speaker that is of both Muscogee and European heritage. With bold images and candid language, Foerster challenges the perceptions of what it means to be Native, what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be an American today. Ultimately, these brave and luminous poems engage and shatter the boundaries of time, self, and continent.

Foerster's journey transcends both geographic space and the confines of the page to live vividly in the mind of the reader.

Book Review:

Poems That Contain (and Critique) History: Three First Books", By Dean Radar, Huffington Post, October 6, 2014
Atlas on the Underside of a Dream", Kristen Hewitt of Terrain.org,
September 14, 2014

Favorite Poetry Books of 2013, The Missouri Review, Working Writers Series
The Stars Top Books of the Year - Kansas City Star, December 2, 2013
Book Review Raj Chakrapani, The Lepsa Journal
Book Review by Ken Hada, Virtual Artists Collective Poetry
Book Review by Bojan Louis, Hinchas de Poesia
Book Review by Alex Jacobs, Indian Country Today
Book Review by Tess Taylor, NPR "All Things Considered"
Book Review by Denise Low, Kansas City Star
Book Review by Diego Baez, Rain Taxi Review of Books, Vol. 18 No. 2, Summer 2013

Editorial Reviews:

"Foerster is that rarity in our time of fragmentation and apocalypse: a poet who explores history and pain, yes, but a poet, also, of healing and hope. Leaving Tulsa is heartening and beautiful and necessary."

~ Jon Davis, author of Preliminary Report

"In these poems spun from what has been scattered, Jennifer Foerster fashions the vessels not to re-gather those 'relics/littering the plains,' but to honor, to name. She herself has learned, beautifully."

~ Eleni Sikelianos, author of Body Clock

"Foerster has her own voice and an ability to shift that voice to show past, present, mythic time, dream landscape and a myriad of other states of mind. Themes of cultural recovery, in particular among Muskoge/Creek, and negotiation of female experience carry throughout the collection. The poems are lyrical and intense."

~ Heid E. Erdrich, author of Cell Traffic

"An atlas / on the underside of my dream," writes Jennifer Elise Foerster. In these sharp, visceral poems, she journeys through the American landscape and maps what has burned and vanished and yet persists. This is a book of endings and beginnings, of immediate memory and urgent, lyrical insight."

~ Arthur Sze

"In her poetry, Foerster defines the indefinable, and makes the indefinable, the invisible, present. It is that place, between the worlds, so to speak, this in-betweeness, where words spoken have much to say and the words unspoken are left for a reader to fill. Poetry per excellence, then, poetry that has beauty, power of images and emotions, poetry that invites you to take a journey into the unknown…"

~ Sonja Kravanja, translator - Tomaz Salamun's On the Tracks of Wild Game

"Wow. This first book of poems by Jennifer Foerster reminds me of the urgent vision fueling Kerouac's On the Road. The road is a demanding being. Foerster spins her poem-songs like wheels. She's from a younger generation, and not a man but a young native woman trying to put the story of a broken people back together."

~ Joy Harjo, author of Crazy Brave: A Memoir