Native Poets Torchlight Series

by Jennifer Elise Foerster | Guest Editor

A series created with the intention of celebrating contemporary Native American poets and extending their reach to an ever-widening circle of readers, to pass the fire among emerging and established poets and to share in conversation and to illuminate the diversity of styles and voices among Native poets writing today.

Abigail Chabitnoy (L) and Jennifer Foerster (R) – Photo by Sherwin Bitsui

“Poetry can bring history back to life, so to speak—it can reintroduce us to the narrative, exactly through this act of revisioning. That is how I see poetry as continuing to be relevant, and indeed critical, to today’s society. It allows us to look again at the pieces and reconfigure them, to look at where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going, and then to re-envision a way forward.”

– Abigail Chabitnoy

I met Cedar Sigo in New York City in the spring of 2013. We were attending a conference at Poets House called Native Innovations: Indigenous American Poetry in the 21st Century. Listening to his poetry and craft talk, I was immediately enamored by his acuity and elegance. His poems were diamond-cut and his insight into craft was as prismatic as the poems’ refracted light. He and I both lived in San Francisco, so I was able to continue my marveling through lavish hours of poetry-gab. Over the years, talking with Cedar about art, poetry, and poetics while listening to jazz or walking the streets of the Mission, I have come to believe he is one of the most brilliant and dedicated poets writing today. I’m grateful to be able to share a splice of our conversation through this second edition of the Native Poets Spotlight Series.

For this inaugural edition of Poetry Northwest’s “Native Poets Torchlight Series,” I am honored and excited to be able to highlight one of my favorite poets, Janice Gould, who is a highly respected and influential voice among contemporary Native American poets. I live part of the year in Colorado Springs and always look forward to sharing a long walk and talking with Janice, whose quiet insights are powerfully illuminating. It is a pleasure to share one of our conversations and a few of her poems here with you, and to invite you to discover her heart-opening work.

Gestures of Hope: A Conversation with Janice Gould

Five Poems by Janice Gould

Jennifer Elise Foerster received her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver and her MFA from the Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Jennifer teaches in the IAIA Low Residency MFA Creative Writing Program and at The Rainier Writing Workshop. Jennifer is the author of two books of poetry, Leaving Tulsa (2013) and Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018), both published by the University of Arizona Press. Foerster is of Euro-American and Mvskoke descent, is a member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, and lives in San Francisco.