Author: Jennifer Elise Foerster
Publisher: University of Arizona Press (2013)
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 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
“Wow. This first book of poems by Jennifer Foerster reminds me of the urgent vision fueling Kerouac’s On the Road. The road is a demanding being. Foerster spins her poem-songs like wheels. She’s from a younger generation, and not a man but a young native woman trying to put the story of a broken people back together.”