The surprise of it. The shock of red hibiscus that the Greek tour guide picked and gave to me in Santorini. Santorini: my daughter’s favorite island also reflects the name of my favorite aunt. Santo Irini, Saint Irene, Aunt Irene—my mother’s youngest sister and the best. But here is this brilliant red handed to me by Eleni, the tour guide whose name embraces my mother and my daughter. Eleni, Helen, Ellen. A name that derives from the Greek word for light. I knew this when I named my daughter in the middle of a Perseid meteor shower on the eve of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary: one of the most important holy days in Greece, rivaling Easter and Christmas. The day when (as the believers believe) Mary was assumed into heaven without having to go through the trouble of dying or burial or decay. This woman from Nazareth who retired to Ephesus, revered by the Greeks as their favorite saint. Mary, Irene, Helen, Ellen. All the women in my life claim this island’s light, the deep blue of its sky, the deep red of this hibiscus.
is the author of 11 poetry collections, including The Lake Michigan Mermaid with Anne-Marie Oomen (2019 Michigan Notable Book; Wayne State University Press, 2018), The Elusive Heroine: My Daughter Lost in Magritte (Cervena Barva Press, 2018), Talking Diamonds (New Issues Press, 2009), Amber Necklace from Gdansk (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), and Listen to the Landscape (Eerdmans Publishing, 2006). Her new poetry book, The Blue Divide, was selected as an Editor’s Choice and will be published by New Issues Press in 2021.
Ms. Foster’s work has appeared in more than 350 magazines and journals such as The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Witness, New American Writing, North American Review, Quarterly West, Paterson Literary Review, and Verse Daily, and has been published in anthologies in the U.S. and Great Britain, and translated in Europe. Collaborations with visual artists, musicians, and composers have brought her poetry to new venues and audiences. It has been exhibited in museums and galleries, set to music, produced for the stage, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
In 2018 and 2019, Ms. Foster won an Editor’s Choice Award in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest sponsored by Paterson Literary Review. She has been honored with awards from the Arts Foundation of Michigan, ArtServe Michigan, the National Writer’s Voice, and the Academy of American Poets. She is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College, and was the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan (serving from 2003-2005). In 2015, she was honored by the Dyer-Ives Foundation for her poetry and advocacy of the literary arts in Michigan.
For more info, visit her website at:
The Talent of Knowing in Duende (Issue 2, Spring 2015)
Two Poems, “Mount Fuji” and “The Dead,”
in Streetlight Magazine (23 December 2016)