Faculty Profile

Edward Foster

Building: Morton
Room: 331
Phone: 201.216.5399
Fax: 201.216.8245
Email: [email protected]
School:  College of Arts & Letters
Department:  Literature / General Humanities / History / The Freshman Experience
Program:  History / General Humanities / Literature

Cultural Studies, American Studies, Contemporary Poetry

General Information

Formerly the poetry editor of MultiCultural Review, Edward Foster is the founding editor of Talisman: A Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, Talisman House, Publishers, and Jensen/Daniels, Publishers. He is also the president of Greenfield Distribution, Inc., a book distribution company located in New Hampshire. A professor of history and associate dean for administration in the College of Arts and Letters at Stevens, he is a former visiting professor at Drew University Graduate Faculty and Beykent University (Istanbul) and was a Fulbright lecturer at Haceteppe University in Ankara, Turkey, and at the University of Istanbul. The co-director of the Russian/American Cultural Exchange Program, he has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from Columbia University, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USIA arts program, the New Jersey Historical Commission, Choice, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Fulbright Commision, the Greve Foundation, the Fund for Poetry, the Trubar Foundation, the Romanian Cultural Instutute, and the Turkish Ministry of Culture. He is a widely published critic, essayist and poet, and his poetry has been translated into, and published in, many languages, including single-author volumeas in Slovenian and Russian. He has served on the Advisory Committee for the Middle East of the Council for Insternational Exchange of Scholars and is currently a member of the Fulbright Committee (scholarships) for Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. For further information, see the Directory of American Scholars, Contemporary Authors, Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series, The Writers Directory, The International Writers and Authors Who's Who, and Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. See also Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, ed. Shelley Andrews, Vol. 26; Olivier Brossand interviews Edward Foster," Double Change (2003) (online version: www.doublechange.com/issue3); radio interviews archived at "Penn Sound" (www.writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/XCP); Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Facts-on-File); John Olson, "Inner Light," Jacket Magazine (2006); The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry. 


Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1974)

The Civilized Wilderness (1975)

co-editor, Hoboken (1976)

Josiah Gregg and Lewis Hector Garrard (1977)

Susan and Anna Warner (1978)

editor, Cummington Poems (1982)

Richard Brautigan (1983)

William Saroyan (1984)

Jack Spicer (1991)

William Saroyan: A Study of The Short Fiction (1991)

Understanding the Beats (1992)

The Space Between Her Bed and Clock (1993)

The Understanding (1994)

co-editor, The New Freedoms (1994)

editor, Postmodern Poetry (1994)

All Acts Are Simply Acts (1995)

Understanding the Black Mountain Poets (1995)

co-editor, Primary Trouble: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (1996)

Adrian as Song (1996)

Boy in the Key of E (1998)

editor, Stuart Merrill: The White Tomb (1999)

Answerable to None: Berrigan, Bronk, and the American Real (1999)

editor, Decadents, Symbolists, and Aesthetes in America: Fin-de-Siecle American Poetry (2000)

editor, Poetry and Poetics in a New Millenium (2000)

The Angelus Bell (2001)

co- editor, The World in Time and Space: Towards a History of Innovative American Poetry 1970-the Present (2002)

Mahrem: Things Men Should Do for Men (2002)

Selected Works, translated into Russian (2003)

What He Ought To Know: New and Selected Poems (2006)

Kar naj bi on vedel, poems translated into Slovenian (2007)

co-editor, Antologie de Poezie Americana Contemporana – 36 de poeti americani contemporani (2006)

co-editor, Born in Utopia: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Romanian Poetry (2006)

co-translator, Summer’s End (Yazsonu) by Adalet Agaoglu (2008)

A History of the Common Scale (2008)

Professional Service

Some Recent critical comments of Foster's work:

“The poems [in The Angelus Bell] display intelligence without being pretentious, and their sly humor is endearing.” —Kirkus Reviews

The poems in The Angelus Bell are “elegant portraits of uncertainty.” —Publishers Weekly

The lines in The Angelus Bell, according to Rain Taxi, “tease the reader into a more intimate communion with the processes of sound and inner revelation—a grammar of the soul. . . .”

“Ed Foster is a poet whose sensibilities are postmodern, but whose art does not shy away from making statements that live in sound and memory long after being read. Unlike many contemporary poets Foster's work feeds both the mind and the soul. Wise in the ways of the poet, Foster should be read by those who appreciate sophistication and those aspiring to first hear and to speak as poets.” –reader’s review, Amazon.com

Postmodern Poetry “will be a revelation for poets and readers unfamiliar with the American experimental lyric tradition.” —Harvard Review

The Space Between Her Bed and Clock “resists critical appropriation by refusing to confine itself to a single form or prosodic arrangement. This is negative capability taken to a new level & it feels good — the flight‑simulating G‑forces in a jet built for oblivion”  —TapRoot Reviews

In All Acts Are Simply Acts, Foster “has taken that decisive step and has done as the reader is enjoined at the outset — to ‘[l]ook into [the saints’] eyes.’ Such an unswerving view brings a beauty and power to language inseparable from our need for language with such energy.” —Lift

Understanding the Black Mountain Poets gives “in many ways, . . . a valuable and timely introduction.”  —Papers on Language and Literature

“With an admirable balance of unflinching honesty and delicate indirection, Ed Foster’s boy in the key of e offers a work of measured thoughtfulness and intense delight, By restraining his emotional effects through a subtle orchestration of sound, image, and idea, he has allowed his forms to speak, which his themes resonate discretely through‑out.” —Poetry Project Newsletter

“Let no one seek [in The Understanding] a secure sense of self. . . . To have read these poems is to have entered another self, to have felt the vital force.”   —David Landrey, “Afterword” to The Understanding

All Acts Are Simply Acts “operates within a framework of interdependency; there is a careful balance as the various pieces achieve the level of narrativity (as opposed to argument); the perpetual flux of Foster’s arrangement (poems alternated occasionally with prose, or ‘prose-poems’) gives space for a wide range of attitude, including extremes of intense feeling, which are often negotiated in terms of relentless searchings-out of what language and history might be said to have ghosted.” —Witz

“Simultaneously erudite, puzzling, evasive, and revelatory, boy in the key of e is a fascinating examination of the self as nullity, as absence, as ‘agent of its own instability.’ In writing, Foster found a way to let people ‘hear’ the ‘terrible’ things in his head while at the same time maintaining his distance. In their delicate interplay and precarious balance between presence and absence, what his poems ‘say’ is precisely the vanishing of the world.” —The Alsop Review

“As a writer, critic, editor, and teacher, Ed Foster is inveterately Apollonian: lucid, balanced, well organized. Answerable to Noneis, consequently, a vigorously Apollonian book, albeit one liberally seasoned with that tangy, don’t‑tread‑on‑me defiance implicit in the title: a determinedly New Englander’s outlook on contemporary American poetics, challenging, unorthodox, and fiercely iconoclastic: in essence, a paradoxical mix of pragmatism and rapture, ruminant reserve and reckless velocity.” —American Book Review

“[As editor of  Stuart Merrill’s The White Tomb: Selected Writings], Foster has summoned Merrill from the grave in what must be one of the more important recent publishing events of modernist texts in the alternative press. . . . This is scholarship at its very best.” —Readme

“Although the focus of these interviews [in Foster’s Poetry and Poetics in a New Millennium] . . . is always on the poetry itself, there is always a willingness, even an eagerness, to risk the encounter with that slippery realm where ‘personality is transformed into words and poems.’ . . . [The interviews] try (always with trepidation) to explain the unexplainable—the transformation of human speech into poetry.” —American Book Review

Mahrem . . . is impressive for its honest clarity, emotional intensity, and reflective thoughtfulness.” —Midwest Book Review

On The World in Time and Space: “Ed Foster & Joe Donahue have done a first-rate job in putting together a volume on poetry that matters.” —Silliman’s Blog

On The World in Time and Space: “Clearly Ed Foster is one of the most devoted and tireless laborers on behalf of poetry, and in the last instance this collection serves as a worthy capstone to Foster’s fourteen-year effort with [Talisman].” —Tom Orange, review in The Poker

On The World in Time and Space: “The version of history that is put forth here is particular to the aesthetic that Talisman House has been so impressively mapping for well over a decade.” “[W]hat emerges [in this book] is the aesthetic of Talisman House, one of the most vital publishing projects of the 20th century and beyond.” —Rain Taxi

The World in Time and Space is “one of many Talisman House books that are on any cool kid’s wish list.” —Spendid (ezine)

“The poems in Edward Foster's Mahrem are spare, elegant and elliptical. Coupled with photographs of scenes and young men from Turkey interspersed throughout the book, they combine to form a landscape of loss, broken or fleeting incomplete relationships, and ultimate aloneness and "strangeness" . . . . Foster's work is carefully poised and displays an elegant use of language.” —Oyster Boy Review

"Edward Foster is the epitome of the poet / sholar." —The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry

“Foster’s work [is] . . . meticulously engineered to revelatory move ment through cadence and tonality. . .” —Facts on File Companion to Twentieth-Century American Poetry

The poems in What He Ought To Know “are poised as a cirrus sky, knottings of cadenced desire, unruly, ‘painted blue for love.’” –Pantaloons

Foster’ poetry in What He Ought To Know “reads in its entirety like a hymn to intellectual beauty. Its mood is almost always one of deep contemplation, a search for harmony among tangled relations. Each poem is an attempt to bring an inner light to the surface of the paper. The desire for intimacy is reverential, yet restrained and warmed by a private friction. This results in a language that is measured in its tone and sensuality, that is somehow able to be personal and impersonal simultaneously. Each word has a feeling of critical distinction, as if distilled out of some more turbulent compound of longing and agitation.” –Jacket

“Edward Foster’s New and Selected is once more proof of his often astounding poetic capabilities: sureness of register, intelligence of arrangement, delicacy of emotional patterning, elegance of effect.” –Verse

On Antologie de Poezie American_ Contemporan_ (selections, with Leonard Schwartz, plus introduction and notes, with translations coordinated and edited by Carmen Firan and Paul Doru Mugur) “Unul dintre evenimentele editoriale ale acestui an va fi, cu siguran__, aparari_a. . . . .” (“The publication of this book is one of the most important editorial events of the year. . . .”) –Scrisul Românesc

Edward Foster is “one of contemporary poetry’s unique voices.” –Mysic.Books.com

“If you think an evening of poetry involves mopey navel gazers muttering free-verse confessions, the final installment of the Summer Poetry Marathon will be an ear and mind opener. Featuring Edward Foster, editor of one of the country’s leading poetry magazines, Talisman, this event delivers the real thing: edgy stuff, poetry with a real bite. Also on the program are less-established poets. Who knows? You just might stumble on the next Lawrence Ferlinghetti.” –San Francisco (August 2006) 

“Foster is a master of tone; there is an elegiac and crepuscular charm in many of these poems reminiscent of Cavafy and William Bronk, but there is playfulness too—sometimes Foster is even able to do both things within a single poem. . . . The reader of this collection, like TL, is finally left with no solid ground on which to stand. . . . And yet there is delight in not knowing, delight in music that lures us so skillfully out over the abyss.” —First Intensity

“Inside the body of the poems, ‘I,’ ‘you,’ ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘they,’ ‘our’ move almost permutatively, replacing each other. Names appear and disappear. The result is a continuous, ever changing erotic, egoless motion among points, a cadence of the mind.” —The New Review of Literature

"Born in Utopia: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Romanian Poetry, edited by Carmen Firan and Paul Doru Mugur with Edward Foster, makes it clear that the relative obscurity of Romanian poetry has been a historical accident, never a matter of lesser quality. . . . Born in Utopia is such an abundant book that it seems unfair to single out particular poets for mention, leaving dozens just as deserving to await discovery quietly. And there are important discoveries to be made here.” —Galatea Resurrects

“A one-of-a-kind treasury” —Midwest Book Review

“From the always intriguing Talisman House comes an anthology of Romanian poetry fetching the last 100 years — from Symbolism to Postmodernism, Born in Utopia, ed.Carmen Firan & Paul Doru Mugur & Ed Foster, with grand mechanics behind the translating machine from Adam J. Sorkin, Andrei Codrescu, Liviu Georgescu and many more. . . . You’ll want it.” —Woodburners

Vse je jezik” (“All Is Language”) by Andrej Zavrl at http://www.narobe.si/stevilkae2/knjigeerecenzije.html awards Kar naj bi on vedel (Slovenian version of What He Ought To Know) four stars.

“Even readers somewhat familiar with Romanian poetry of the last one hundred years or so may have difficulty absorbing the wealth of material in . . . [Born in Utopia].” —World Literature Today

“[A] shoutout to Ed Foster and Talisman House, for bringing so many international poetries to American and English speakers. . . . these are thrilling poems [in Born in Utopia], no duds, period.” —The Poetry Project Newsletter 

The poems in What He Ought to Know are “solid gold . . . contemplative and rarified. . . . a stirring sense of the spiritual that speaks above all.” –Brooklyn Rail

“Edward Foster’s poetry, always exacting and infinitely sweeping, comes to us like a whisper from behind our own ears. . . . His poems suspend themselves just above language, connotative of some understanding—perhaps common to all of us—that recedes at the brink of words. It is just on this cusp, with some doubt, some explaining, that we find Foster, and trust him to guide us on an impossible course. With pristine lucidity, he knows, the “propositions weren’t enough.”” –Brooklyn Rail

“Amid the poems in A History of the Common Scale, 'Acedia,' a remarkable short story, presents a character seeking a perfectly stable life through the practice of a seemingly rigid, transcendentalist philosophy derived from 'Plato and Thoreau.' Foster’s narrative and descriptive economy and precision recall the style of Clarice Lispector, the great Brazilian short story artist.”” –Galatea Resurrects

“‘The Beginning of Sorrows’ is a fine and solidly recommended volume...” –Midwest Book Review

“The poems and short fictions in Foster’s new collection [The Beginning of Sorrows] are meditations on the subtleties and nuances of the human condition. The vocabulary and phrasing is simple, often exquisite in its balance and poise, yet each work in its totality is often quite elliptical. One senses a conflict or human drama without knowing exactly what the circumstances are. The statements are rich in evocation, and this helps. Each is a poignant clue that goads us on and brings us back repeatedly for another reading, another meaning to reveal itself, another sense to coax from the shadows and coruscations of the poem.” –Jacket

The Beginning of Sorrows: "Perhaps then, it's not only that we don’t know ourselves as sinners, but also that we make such a hash out of the love that we do find, that, from the perspective of an older decade, is a real beginning of sorrows. These poems break with that light, and even if the language of sin bugs you, you are going to feel the weight of Ed’s argument and sorrow." –Oyster Boy

What He Ought To Know: "Ed is from Western Massachusetts, and if you know these people, you will recognize the direct, spare taciturn affect—if you read the poems you’ll know that it’s the most honest front he can put on what is really a passion that is both carnal and deeply invested and interested in sharing. This is a person who wants to go where love takes him, who knows it means difficulty, that we fit at angles with each other." –Oyster Boy

“'Dire Straits' is filled with poetic wisdom and makes for much recommended reading.” –Midwest Book Review


Selected Publications
  1. Edward Foster. (2012). Dire Straits, Marsh Hawk Press.
  2. Edward Foster. (2009). The Beginning of Sorrows, Marsh Hawk Press.
  • HHS 387 History of american Film
  • CAL 105 CAL Colloquium: Knowledge, Nature, Culture