"Foster writes with great economy. His words feel chiseled and dovetailed into place. Like Zukofsky, Foster evinces the metilculous care of a seasoned cabinet maker. But it is out of this economy that he finds the richness that he is looking for.... Foster, who likes the muted registers and stunning clarity of the black and white photography he often includes in his books, is engrossed by the dialectic between art and life and the complexities and ambiguities of human emotion. This is his strait. His narrows. He doesn't just articulate ideas, he struggles against them. His poetry has as edgy undercurrent. It doesn't settle. It searches for where the words begin."—John Olson
Recent Praise for Foster’s work:
Edward Foster’s What He Ought To Know “reads in its entirety like a hymn to intellectual beauty.” —Jacket
“Edward Foster’s New and Selected is once more proof of his often astounding poetic capabilities: sureness of register, intelligence of arrangement, delicacy of emotional patterning, elegance of effect.” —Verse
“Edward Foster’s . . . poems suspend themselves just above language, connotative of some understanding — perhaps common to all of us — that recedes at the brink of words. It is just on this cusp, with some doubt, some explaining, that we find Foster, and trust him to guide us on an impossible course.”
What He Ought To Know: “. . . if you read the poems you’ll know that it’s the most honest front he can put on what is really a passion that is both carnal and deeply invested and interested in sharing. This is a person who wants to go where love takes him, who knows it means difficulty, that we fit at angles with each other.” —Oyster Boy
ISBN: 978-0-9846353-8-2 (paper) $12.50
Three Sample Poems from Dire Straits
Donskoy Monastery and the Tourist
Where were they shot?
Show me where. Or describe the spot.
Also let me know where they were burned
and how their comrades lit the fire
and justified their act.
It’s a place I need to see.
I’ve never seen such gloom.
No tears. I’m looking out this window,
and it’s cold. Would you like to look?
Perhaps you’d like to look for me.
Nothing fits, though horror
happened here. Is there anywhere
its secret can’t be known?
Keep your balance.
We Did What We Like
How many memories,
except the long walk to his room,
has he left behind? We can’t talk now about
what can’t be seen, not now. Reason
shifts. It won’t hold still.
The images we conjure
date from childhood.
Then we could believe.
The light crossed fields and reached the lawn.
The elderly were not alone.
Children had to find their way back home.
They lost their way.
The rest of us knew mystery:
the bread, the word.
We’re no more worthy just because we say
the name, not now.
Back then, we found
the word a trespass, a flurry, false,
until the sky was blue, a blur.
Answers came to questions we could phrase,
obedient and wanting you.
A flash streaks by,
perhaps an airplane, barely seen.
When we were children,
we felt we had the right to know.
Reverse the platitudes of those
who think they own the words
and make things out of them,
shifting syllables left or right,
giving credence to distraught
and fearsome thoughts (as if
they were young boys, quite free,
riding bikes in traffic).
There’s no destination in these Persian
lands of wandering bards, clichés
we had to learn. Why poke among
old languages in search of something
new? All I need is you, your slick-backed
hair to paralyze my thought,
hard grasping you.