Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
by Rebecca Foust
Winner of the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry
A Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection
8 x 5.25 paperback, 114 pages
Rebecca Foust won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry for Paradise Drive. Her other books include God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World (Tebot Bach, 2010), a collaboration with artist Lorna Stevens that received a 2010 Foreword Book of the Year Award; All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving, 2010), which received the 2008 MMM Press Poetry Book Prize; and two chapbooks, Mom’s Canoe (Texas Review Press, 2009), and Dark Card (Texas Review Press, 2008), both winners of the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook prize. Foust earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2010 and is the recipient of fellowships from The Frost Place and The MacDowell Colony. Her poems have appeared widely in journals including The Hudson Review, The Massachusetts Review, Narrative, North American Review, and Sewanee Review, and her prose is in American Book Review, Chautauqua, Poetry Flash, The Rumpus, Tikkun Daily, and other journals. Her essay, "Venn Diagram,” won the Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize from The Malahat Review in 2014. Foust lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area as a writer, freelance editor, teacher, and Marin Poetry Center board member.
Praise for Paradise Drive
There is great music in these poems, and sonnet after sonnet is masterful. Not since Berryman’s Henry have I been so engaged by a persona: Pilgrim, who ‘like most of we’ is good and bad, hapless sometimes, other times approaching wisdom, always sending deeper and deeper her primary roots.
—Thomas Lux, author of Child Made of Sand and God Particles
In Rebecca Foust’s splendid book-length sonnet sequence, Paradise Drive, we come upon a Pilgrim contemplating the deadly sins while hiding out in the bathrooms at some of Marin County, California’s swankiest parties. As the Pilgrim swaggers into an idiosyncratic, believable, frail spirituality, her unmediated, un-medicated new life emerges. The sonnets of this new life are jagged, fresh, and formed in only the way a stunningly skilled poet can craft them. Foust drives her Keatsian sensibility straight into the 21st Century of terrorism and autism, divorce and yoga, soldiers and syringes, booze and valet parking, determined to prove that truth makes beauty. Not only is Paradise Drive a magnificent achievement, it’s a deep comfort as well.
—Molly Peacock, author of The Second Blush: Poems
In Paradise Drive, a sequence of loose sonnets—mostly eschewing end-rhyme for a musical internal rhyme, and varying their line lengths to better construct a singular contemporary voice—Rebecca Foust does it: she reinvents the sonnet form, making it a unit of expression again, not a museum piece sitting on its plinth, forlornly wishing we'd quit paying homage to it. She relies on the arc of the sequence to move her central character, Pilgrim from a numb captivity in a stultifying environment to a widening understanding of suffering and compassion, and thus a point-of-balance vis-a-vis the world; but she strews the individual poems with savagely sparkling jewels of satire, insight, and wit. This is a masterful book, yes, and also a great deal of fun to read.
—James Cummins, author of Still Some Cake and Then & Now
Sample from Paradise Drive
on-the-wane, children grown and gone.
Who, voice-trained from birth in desire,
wakes one morning wanting—nothing—
in the way of things. Wanting some not-thing
not quite not-seen. Her dreams
now lie, a tangle of downed silk and line.
Waist-deep in bright ruin, she labors to sing,
wondering if wanting is, after all, all
there is. Somewhere far away old ice recedes;
somewhere new wars combust. Here, rain is rare
and Pilgrim sings her scales to the dust.
House of no children, guest room of no guest;
no god or guide, a broken song. Her quest.
Cover artist Suzanne Engelberg is a fine art photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is especially interested in interpretive landscape photography. Her work has been exhibited in galleries across the country and she has received numerous awards, including awards from the New York Center for Photographic Art, Professional Women Photographers, and the Grand Prix de la Couverte. She is the author of Visions of Phoenix Lake.
Cover designer Lorna Stevens is a mixed media artist interested in visually exploring culture and nature. Her work has been acquired by the Brooklyn Museum, the di Rosa, the New York Public Library, the Numakunai Sculpture Garden, and the SF MOMA Research Library. She received her MFA from Columbia University and teaches collage and sculpture at City College of San Francisco.
Winner First Annual Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award
Winner 2016 National Indie Excellence Award for Poetry
A Shelf Unbound Notable 100
Winner 2016 San Francisco Book Festival Award for Poetry
Winner 2016 Royal Dragonfly Award for Poetry
Foust addresses the Pauline rubrics of greed, pride, envy, lust, wrath, gluttony, and sloth as persona poems, all in the context of twenty-first century Marin County opulence. –Terry Lucas, South 85 Journal Foust’s sonnet sequence alters the traditions of Western literature, as her heroine relentless probes for truth in places where some might not think to look. –Susan Gunter, American Arts Quarterly
These poems, so rich in meaning and nuance, cry out to be read and reread.
Foust's language makes me think of Nabokov and how dark and light he can be in the same phrase. Like Nabokov, Foust knows when to turn up the heat or turn down the lights.
With her third collection, Paradise Drive, Foust emerges as an original voice in contemporary poetry. A book of linked sonnets narrated by a character called Pilgrim, Paradise Drive is sharp with irony and humor, offering keen social commentary and moments of lyricism.
—Diana Whitney, Poetry of John Burnside, Jane Hirshfield, Rebecca Foust, and Deborah Landau from the San Francisco Chronicle
Foust’s vocabulary soars and plummets. Her quite considerable accomplishment is to have written a book that is vivacious and filled with snark (even if much of the snarking is directed at Pilgrim herself) while almost never losing sight of an underlying seriousness.
Foust’s language is compelling; her skill and craft authoritative and assured. It would be hard not to read this collection through in one sitting although it is equally pleasurable to take the time to read and re-read these poems. Her registers range from wry—at times, downright snarky—to the elegiac.
—Lorna Knowles Blake, “Visions, Vessels, Voices,” The Hudson Review (Print version)
This book proves that the record of humankind will be found in poetry It is funny and compelling. It aches with truth.”
What made Chaucer relevant to his time is what makes Foust relevant and compelling for us today.
A bravura composition, poems packed with compelling images that never slow things down.
Pilgrim is a complex and flawed every person whose quest for “options” is timely and universal. —Bob Wakes, Coffee Spew
It's hard to say enough about Rebecca Foust's Paradise Drive. Go buy the book.
[A] masterful work about the search for meaning in meaninglessness and for fulfillment in a world abounding with distractions and shallowness.
Foust’s targets flay themselves just by opening their mouths.
There’s an exuberant and yet restrained variety to Foust’s sonnets. Anyone eager to see what’s possible with the form in the 21st century will find an excellent model in Paradise Drive.
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