Poems 1999-2014 (Foster)

The only problem with this book is that I’ve heard Foster read her own work out loud, and my attempts to re-create her voice in my head were laughable. It’s a challenge with spoken word work, I think. It can be hard to focus, to catch everything when you are listening (maybe that’s not the goal?), so I like to read it, but then I lose the energy the author brings to the delivery. In my world, all spoken word books should be required to be accompanied by a CD of the author reading her work.

More often than not, the energy in Foster’s writing just pops off the page with such electricity that it takes on a life of its own. She’s particularly on point when she’s working on many levels at once, the politics of gender, relationships (“you walked away / without giving me myself back” from “Nothing”), race, etc.. “Stains” is a favorite. The juxtaposition of “Recollection” and “Two Bodies” packs a powerful punch. At first, I was surprised that these two were written 8 years apart, but then, after re-reading them, I saw both the connections and development. “All Apologies” and “Assignment One” are both great.

“Therapy – Session I” brought me to tears, both because of its beauty and its “heart break ache.”

I hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next collection!

Foster performing “216”


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