Exciting developments from Professor Tonya

Author: Staff
February 6, 2024
Writing on papers
Photo Credit: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Our wonderful professor — Dr. Tonya Monique Foster — has accomplished quite a few feats within the past year and has more opportunities lined up in the upcoming months. In 2023, she received the C.D. Wright Award in Poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Art. The C.D. Wright Award for Poetry is an endowed annual award that was established in 2017 in memory of American poet, Carolyn D. "C.D." Wright, who died in 2016 at the age of 67. The $45,000 award is made annually through Grants to Artists to a poet over the age of 50 whose work exemplifies Wright's vibrant lyricism, seriousness, and striking originality. Professor Foster was also awarded a 2023 residency by the Emily Harvey Foundation, a foundation that produces exhibitions and provides artists and writers residencies in Venice, Italy.

While 2024 just started, Professor Tonya already participated in a handful of events, and has quite a couple of upcoming ones within the semester as well. In January, she was an artist-in-residence at Casa Ojala in Mexico City. The main event of her stay was Cartographies of the African and Indigenous Americas, a 3-hour extension of Undisciplining the Fields: Study, Performance, and (Re:)Creation. Foster was in conversation with two Afro-Mexican poets, an artist, and a critic, with an audience of about 60 people. They began an exchange around Black life in Mexico and the U.S. It was the first salvo in an international poetry and art project that Foster hopes we can further develop at LCA in the Creative Writing department. It would be wonderful to involve students as translators, so please look out for the development on this project!

On Saturday, January 27, Professor Tonya was in conversation with poets Soham Patel and Sara Borjas at San Francisco Public Library. It was an afternoon sharing poetry excerpts, followed with discussion on the evolution and nature of their poetry. They explored their personal creative process and how they process emotions through poetry and witness the reciprocal transformation between themselves and their works. Their unique voices provide a glimpse into the experience of crafting poetry as women of color.

Now here are some of the upcoming events Professor Tonya has:

On February 7, City Lights is holding a benefit reading for the Middle East Children’s Alliance. The reading begins at 7 p.m.

 On February 15 at 6 p.m., Foster will be in conversation with George McCalman about his recent book Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen. This event will take place at the Mechanics Institute.  

On February 29, Undisciplining the Fields: Study, Performance, and (Re:)Creation (in a collaboration with the Poetry Center) will host poet and professor Major Jackson at City Lights Bookstore.

On March 10, in honor of Gertrude Stein at 150, Pacifica Sharp Park Library has invited Professor Foster to give a one-hour talk at the annual AAUW meeting.

In April, as part of the New Orleans Poetry Festival, Professor Tonya will participate in a panel on Environmental Justice with Tommy Parrie, Gabrielle Octavia Rucker, James Sherry, and Tyrone Williams. The panel will explore how poetry supports making our communities more equally resilient. She will also participate in a reading of new work, alongside attending the IX convening of the Black Portraiture Conference in Venice. This year’s theme is “Shifting Paradigms.”

In May, at the end of the semester, Foster will begin a six-week residency at Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

Mid-June to early July, Professor will conduct research at Radcliffe Institute.

And finally, she is working with Professor Dorothy Wang to organize an SF State Poetics Conference in Spring 2025.

All very exciting things for Professor Foster and even the Department of Creative Writing. Please congratulate her and give her your support as she continues to do amazing work in her position as SFSU Marcus Chair in Poetry.