A Swarm of Bees in High Court
"A Swarm of Bees in High Court" is, among other things, Tonya Foster's 'attempt to create biography of a place,' specifically Harlem in the 21st century, where certain dreams are indefinitely deferred. Foster's work is a poem of womanhood reminiscent of Gwendolyn Brooks' unassuming heroines Annie and Maud, Ntozake Shange declaring, 'I Usedta Live in the World,' or Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn singing 'Rocks in My Bed.' A sleepless woman with plenty of worrying thoughts to keep her up at night, not to mention chronic 'street corner noise,' lies at the heart of this work. From bedroom intimacies behind closed blinds to public displays of affection and disaffection, Foster's poetry contemplates unspoken bonds of culture, geography, and race that bring couples and communities together, along with the terrible strains that can tear them apart: 'this poem is the city of faces deserted by the hope of we.' Infused with a weary and wary blues, Tonya Foster's innovative variations on haiku are terse verses, tautly turned and tuned to cycles and rhythms of urban insomniacs."—Harryette Mullen
Tonya Foster was one of MoAD's Poets-in-Residence in 2019.