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2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence: Rebecca Foust

About Rebecca Foust

Rebecca Foust’s books include God, Seed (Tebot Bach Press, 2010), recipient of the 2010 Foreword Book of the Year Award, and All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving Press, 2010), recipient of the 2008 Many Mountains Moving Book Prize.  Her chapbooks, Mom’s Canoe and Dark Card (Texas Review Press, 2008, 2009) consecutively won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.  New poems are in current issues of The Hudson ReviewThe Massachusetts Review, The Sewanee ReviewSouthern Indiana ReviewZyzzyva, and other journals. Foust received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in 2010 and currently works as an assistant editor for Narrative.

On being named the 2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence

Upon receiving news of her selection as the 2014 resident poet at The Frost Place, Rebecca said, “I very much appreciate the gift of a substantial block of time in which to immerse myself in reading and writing, but it is this fellowship’s setting that most pleases me. My mother read Frost to me when I was young, and I know that his work trained my ear and shaped my poetic sensibility. The opportunity to work where Frost actually lived and wrote some of his poems is tremendously exciting and inspiring, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

Plans for the Residency

Ms. Foust describes how she plans to spend her residency at Robert Frost’s former home: “My goal is deep work, the kind a writer can do only in an atmosphere both free of distraction and full with inspiration and hope. The ability to spend such a substantial block of time immersed in reading and writing is, by itself, of great practical value. In the privacy, beauty and inspiration of this unique setting, I plan to re-read Frost’s poems and essays while writing new ones of my own. I also hope to make progress on my next book manuscript. Finally, I am happy for the chance to live, work, and do readings in New England where I attended college and have many relatives and friends.”

Poem by Rebecca Foust

From Function, Form

On the bus to Salinas, sectioned fields

plumed with blue sprinkler arcs;
a distant tractor trailed dust in rows

like Log Cabin quilt bars, alternating
wine, green and gray, like the earth
in its seasons. The quilt was Amish,

stitched in the ditch, twelve dips per inch,
the hair-thin sharp rocking through cotton
in a lullaby rhythm, ten thousand stitches

in long, straight rows. In its sea of mute
color one bar was scarlet, a spark caught
flame, and the wide gray borders

were a riot of quilted texture—hyacinth
curlicues, looping patterns called
Clamshell or Wave. I think of her,

three states away from any ocean, locked
in long days patterned on piety, a woman
slipping in fancywork to break up the plain.

But when it turned in the distance,
the tractor blazed red, its back wheels
tracing great, slow arcs in a sea

of dust to begin the next row. Not some
whimsy or homespun rebellion
but a faithful rendering, what she saw.

(first published in The Hudson Review, Spring 2010)