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Rebecca Foust ’79

Alumnae Poet

Rebecca Foust

Urgent from the outset, Rebecca Foust’s Only (Four Way Books, 2022) insists that the only thing worth writing about is everything. Prompted to confront what she does not know, the speaker lists, “Null. All. What’s after death or before.” This book scales the cliff-face of adulthood, that paradoxical ascent in which the longer we live the less we know of life, in which we find that each of us is only ourselves and yet delicately interconnected with everyone, everything, else. These candid lyrics ponder our broken political systems, family (dys)function and parenting challenges, divergent and intersecting identities, the complexities of sexuality and gender, natural refuge and climate catastrophe, and in general what it means to be human in a world that sometimes feels as if it is approaching apocalypse. At the ledge of this abyss, however, Foust reminds us of the staggering beauty of life, the legacies of survival in the echoes of care that outlast us: “I came / to the canyon rim and saw // how best to carry you: I let the stone go.”

Foust’s The Unexploded Ordnance Bin won the Swan Scythe Poetry Chapbook Award. A book of sonnets, Paradise Drive, won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry and was reviewed in the Times Literary SupplementGeorgia ReviewHarvard ReviewHudson Review, and others. All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song won the Many Mountains Moving Book Prize in 2010, the same year a collaboration with artist Lorna Stevens, God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World, won the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry. Mom’s Canoe and Dark Card, consecutive recipients of the Robert Phillips Chapbook Poetry Prize, were released by Texas Review Press in 2008 and 2009. Foust’s poems, book reviews, essays, and short stories are widely published in journals and also anthologies including Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Connection (Green Writers Press 2019); How Lovely the Ruins, Foreword by Elizabeth Alexander (Spiegel & Grau 2017); Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing (Pearson 2015); and Literature, A Pocket Anthology (Penguin 2011).       

Recognitions include the 2019 Pablo Neruda Award (judged by Kaveh Akbar), the 2018 CP Cavafy Award, the 2015 James Hearst Poetry Prize (Jane Hirshfield), American Literary Review’s 2015 Fiction Prize (Garth Greenwell), and the 2015 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize. Foust has received fellowships from the Frost Place, Hedgebrook, MacDowell, Sewanee, and the Westchester Poetry Conference and, in 2017, was appointed as the Marin County Poet Laureate. Since 2014, Foust has been the poetry editor Women’s Voices for Change, writing a weekly column that emphasizes diversity and the poetry of women over 40.

About Rebecca

Photo by Jeremy Thornton

Poetry Center Reading Dates: February 2024, September 2020