Richard Foerster,
The Burning of Troy
(BOA, 2006)

Although The Burning of Troy is a strong book, it's not an easy one to get through. Richard Foerster mourns the death of his lover in most of the poems, and the central theme, as a result, is carrying on when the one you love has died.

Foerster writes honestly and deeply of loss and can't help but experience it in the goings on of daily life. A meal reminds him of previous meals. Even nature plays to the loss theme; a carrier pigeon "Came to rest / in the small delta of the woodland garden / we'd wedged against the forest..." on the day the x-ray showed his lover's lung "ghost-laced with fluid."

Foerster is a master of detail, capable of selecting just the right image to convey his moods and ideas. For example, he remembers himself:

With an adolescent's
pulsing confusion, back in that spring
our cassocked teachers marched us, mute
soldiers of Christ, well prepped
in devotion to stand, blue-

blazered in the sun, stiff as the effigy
we came to honor.

What Foerster knows and what comes across in his work is that it is the small, mundane daily moments that make a life, whether by oneself or with another person. His poems celebrate that life while mourning deeply the loss of one of the reasons for living it.

by Michael Scott Cain
18 November 2006

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