Years before the Polish artist died of dementia and solitude, the American comes face to face with Magdalena’s body of work in the National Museum in Krakow. “...and here was a huge, magical thing...a foreign tongue,” the artist seems to whisper in her ear over the text of the gallery notes. The human and non-human. The endless procession of life and death: a forest of headless torsos, curved burlap trees, birds frozen in aluminum. Her obsessive need to work in the midst of the Nazi boot, the Soviet fist. Here is the hand-like tree of wire designed for Hiroshima. The fabric cocoons deposited in New York, as if a butterfly with amnesia landed on the wrong continent. Here are the hollowed shells abandoned on a Baltic shore. And now—a portrait, no, a death mask: eyes shut, a primitive cross transgressing the face’s grid, a primordial landscape, remnant of bark, leaves, stones, mud. And finally, the huge fabric tree with tangled roots of twine, bird bones. A Mazovian willow caught in a storm. The American feels like a child swallowed whole by that trunk. Smell of musk, deep pubis, birth canal—a tunnel connecting the pre-life to the human place in the world. She is childless. The she of the artist, the she of the observer. But they both know the journey: having never met, they walk it together.
is the author of 11 poetry collections, including Amber Necklace from Gdansk (a finalist for the Ohio Book Award in Poetry), 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), 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, New American Writing, Nimrod, North American Review, Quarterly West, Paterson Literary Review, Witness, and Verse Daily. Her poems have also 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 The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College and 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. In the fall of 2019, she was a guest lecturer in contemporary American poetry and literature at the University of Bielsko-Biala in Poland.
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