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.
“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 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
“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