I first encountered Sesshu Foster through his cotranslation of Juan Felipe Herrera’s masterpiece Akrilica and an anthology he coedited, Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry. It was 1990: I’d just returned from six years of intense political and cultural involvement outside the US. The Gulf War was right on the horizon, and in the hyper-stratified world of US poetry, where class and cosmos had taken backseats to an almost purely theoretical politics and poetics, I was in search of allies and kindred spirits. With Foster’s work, I felt I’d struck pay dirt.
for a fee I guess / my sovereign entity / muckrake / frowning sun and yet it is a storyteller
The poet’s first novel, Eleanor, or, The Rejection of the Progress of Love, concerns a woman’s unnamed grief, as well as the meta-dialogue between the narrative’s author and the critic reading her manuscript.
The author discusses her forthcoming novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation, fiction as impetus for personal change, and the inhumanity of the creative class.
It’s possible that like John the Divine—aka John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation—Shiv Kotecha has been plunged into boiling oil and suffered nothing from it, his audience converted into sweet lambs upon witnessing the miracle, and the prophet-poet cast forever unto the brightness of exile.
The poet on confronting societal limitations about the body, navigating the language of fatness, and celebrating friendships that embrace the joy of food.
The poet on the power of naming, the freedom of writing, and when to carry and let go of grief.
The poet on erasing Dracula’s misogyny, the politics of literary appropriation, and the beauty of long poems.
Unseasonably exposed to fuchsia, / I left that Southern town / knotted to why-what / secrecy. # Like my / first time on a Ferris wheel.
If you can’t stand the first person, / get out of the kitchen. / Similar but escalating sleights of hand: / he wants to eat both the girl and the food in her basket. / She is past specialness, / doubling the likelihood. In such young women, / traumas curl / till Christmas ribbon. The greatest predictor of red / is oxygen.
The writer on the space between poetry and prose, how fighting is like dancing, and the resonant symbolism of the idiophone.
Part of the Theory + Practice series.
Overcast cobalt, tile unbolted, pictures / On loan require empty space / Like an expletive. Grisaille pigeons, / Endemic to our swamp of / Commission.
Performance as a poetry of long duration.
Lying on the couch all day glass of water a highly disgusting smoothie four coloring books, / a myriad of psychiatric and “anti-inflammatory” medication / anti-inflammatory Jewish history books / anti-inflammatory pretzel sticks / anti-inflammatory medicinal cannabis
Essays that investigate the poetics of “no.”
You are magnetic in the old way. / For Duchamp, the neutrality of objects / You stand in a room of your own design. / becomes a sort of anti-aesthetic
PREPARE no night creature accidental enemy / encounters return to us in witch cradles, monsters by a hairsbreadth / these our works melted no / accident these fires these crashes / capitulate to what is meant by the past as a whole / melt, fall back into accomplishment the grasp of who / prepares to give the message
On more than one occasion I have been accused of disliking Langston Hughes. Untrue.
The poet on the politics of the gaze, the migratory act of reading, the anxiety of bilingualism, and the universality of shame.