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.
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.
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 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.
Jennifer Elise Foerster is completing a PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Denver. Her works have appeared in the Oregon Literary Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Eleven Eleven, and American Indian Culture and Research Journal. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, she is the recipient of 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford.
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