Jennifer Elise Foerster received her PhD in English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver, 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 Robert Frost Fellow in Poetry at the Breadloaf Writers Conference and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. In addition to teaching in The Rainier Writing Workshop, Jennifer teaches in the IAIA MFA Creative Writing Program and currently serves as its Interim Director. Jennifer also co-directs, with the poet Joy Harjo, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma, and is a Project Director with the non-profit organization InnerCHANGE WORKS. She 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 German, Dutch, and Mvskoke descent, is a member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, and lives in San Francisco.
Mentor. Workshops and classes in poetry.
Statement: “Poetry can expand, challenge, and deepen our ways of knowing. Adrienne Rich wrote: “Poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.” I believe my work with you is only to serve as a guide, to encourage you towards what you don’t know you know, and to inspire you to grow deeper into your potential as a writer. Poetry is especially vital in today’s world; my teaching work is to challenge you towards your own understanding of why. The basis of a workshop or mentorship is exploring why you write—and read—poetry. I will encourage you to follow the areas of poetics and the poets you are interested in as well as the poetics and poets you resist. We can only deepen our poetics by understanding our resistances. Poetry is all transformation; pursuing poetry means we are open to change. In my teaching, I will encourage you in taking creative, imaginative risks, and will ask you to consider your strengths and weaknesses both as points of departure. I don’t believe art is made by getting comfortable in a voice or style. If poetry is going to be a life-long endeavor, we must practice becoming comfortable with its surprises and its failures, and, most of all, being excited by its questions.”