“Being a very shy person, I could go into it and create these worlds.” Muscogee (Creek) citizen and poet Jennifer Foerster
Foerster explains living abroad, ‘Leaving Tulsa’
GLENPOOL, Okla. — ‘As a child I tossed
All of my imaginary friends
Out the window
Because I wanted to feel my fist
Break open as I freed them -an excerpt ‘Flight’ reads.
From her first book, ‘Leaving Tulsa,’ Muscogee (Creek) citizen Jennifer Foerster spoke about what was on her mind and heart from the book.
“I called it ‘Leaving Tulsa,” because I felt like I was always leaving,” Foerster said. “Growing up, I felt like this was the one place that I was from.”
Foerster’s mother grew up nearby in Jenks while her father was in the U.S. Air Force.
“I was an air force kid,” Foerster said. “So we lived all over the U.S. and Europe, but I come back here for the summers to stay with my grandparents.”
Foerster said that growing up traveling gave her a better view of the world. She said she was lucky that she was able to go to international schools. It gave her a unique perspective of being not only American, but an Indigenous American.
“I grew up around a lot of different cultures, languages and religions,” Foerster said. “I was blessed with that. I felt like I grew up among the diversity of the world.”
Foerster said her mom would tell her about her stories regarding her cultural history. She said she would talk about the ‘Trail of Tears’ and her family history.
“So that was my link back to my national identity,” Foerster said. “That was very important to me growing up.”
Foerster returned back to the U.S. when she was in high school. She went to an international college or ‘early college,’ in New Mexico called the United World College. She also attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
“I was able to be in a multi-tribal community,” Foerster said. “In all of these areas I felt I was among great diversity.”
Foerster said she has always loved writing and ‘playing’ with language. She always tried to figure out how to use words to make them sound interesting, and how the difference can change the meanings of things.
“Being a very shy person, I could go into it and create these worlds,” Foerster said.
She said her love for poetry really took off when her mom gave her a book from Muscogee (Creek) citizen, poet and author, Joy Harjo.
“I was so impressed that not only this was a woman poet, but she was Muscogee,” Foerster said.
She said Harjo was the first poet that she related to and felt it was her writings that inspired her to write.
She said she never thought that she could do it for a living or that it was possible to be an artist. It was not until she went to college and was around other artists that she felt she could be an artist.
“I just wrote it (poetry) out of love,” Foerster said.
Foerster said there are really no subjects when it comes to her poetry. She envisions a painter with a white canvas and they start painting.
“I follow the image, then I follow the sound and the last thing that I follow is the meaning,” Foerster said.
Her first book was published in 2013 which included poems written while she lived in New Mexico and was coming to Oklahoma often to see her grandfather.
“I was very close to him and it was later in his life,” she said. “I drove a lot between Santa Fe and here (Oklahoma).”
She said her poems in the book became road trip poems. There were things that she would see along the road.
‘Because I believed they would return.
But none have since.
Not even the ones I didn’t love,’ – an excerpt from ‘Flight’ reads.
Foerster said she has a new book waiting to be published.
“The new book is called, ‘Hunting,’” Foerster said. “It is finished.”
She said the major figure in ‘Hunting,’ is an elderly woman and the book works with boundaries.
“It works with land and sea, visible and invisible and there is this guide, the elderly woman and she drives the poems,” Foerster said.
She said the driving forces in her books, the woman, she has seen before. She feels that it is an element of herself.
“Psychologically of course,” Foerster said. “Although I am not sure. This elderly woman is so wise and I certainly don’t have that wisdom.”
She said her goal is to keep writing and trust her writing.
“I would love to get another book published, but that is not as important to me as writing,” Foerster said.
One thing she loves is teaching poetry to children. She teaches at the college level, but said the excitement is teaching the youth
“I find it really fun and I learn a lot from them,” Foerster said.
For more information about Foerster and her books, go to: http://www.jenniferfoerster.com