FLOW Interview with Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen about their book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid

Poets Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster will read from their new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, at a fundraiser for FLOW on Thursday, April 19.

For more information on the fundraising event, please click here.

The Lake Michigan Mermaid: Co-Authors Discuss Their New Work

Published by Wayne State University Press for the Made in Michigan series, The Lake Michigan Mermaid tells in poetry the story of a troubled young girl who seeks a mythical creature, the true spirit of the lake, a beautiful mermaid that she believes lives in Lake Michigan waters. The Lake Michigan Mermaid is a tale of friendship, redemption, and the life-giving power of water.

At the event, the poets will read poems interspersed with the story-of-the story: how the book came to be.

For more information about the book, click here.

FLOW: How did this project begin? How long have you been talking about it?
Linda Nemec Foster (LNF): This project began as a result of both of us being published in an anthology of women writing on the Great Lakes titled, Fresh Water (edited by Alison Swan and published by Michigan State University Press). In 2008, we were invited to give a reading at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts for the anthology (along with some of the other contributors) and the idea for the poetry sequence was planted that night. Actually, we weren’t talking about it for long before we started writing the poems.

Anne-Marie Oomen (AMO): As Linda said, the idea hatched the night of that reading over ten years ago–you’ll hear about that story when you come to our presentation–springing from a single mysterious remark by a key person among the writers. Writers never know exactly where or when ideas will rise up and make demands, but I think our participation in that rich lake of words–all those stories inspired by the Great Lakes–created the conditions for the idea to flourish.

FLOW: What inspired the mermaid motif? And the connection to a girl?
LNF: At the reading (that I described above), someone said it was too bad there were no Lake Michigan mermaids. Both Anne-Marie and I were intrigued by the question. Later that night we had the first of many discussions about creating a poetry sequence that would weave a contemporary fairy tale involving a mermaid, a young girl, and their connections to Lake Michigan.

AMO: I had a new cell phone, and I was driving home late at night, sleepy and a little dreamy with ideas. I called first. Linda answered immediately. Call and response. The pattern was set. You’ll see when you read the book because the two voices go back and forth. (Side note: During later research, we found that among the native peoples of the Great Lakes, there are also representations of mermaids and mermen. Our mermaid is not necessarily inspired by those, but we found it reassuring to learn that fresh water mermaid tales do exist.)

To continue reading the full interview, please click here.

Interview Content Original Published by FLOW, March 30th, 2018

Linda Nemec Foster’s Articles, Poems, and News Posted on John Guzlowski’s Blog

News and Information for Polish Writers and Writers of the Polish Diaspora

Posts from John Guzlowski’s Blog


Linda Nemec Foster’s profile on the Poets & Writers’ Directory website


Author’s Bio

Linda Nemec Foster is the author of eleven collections of poetry including Amber Necklace from Gdansk (LSU Press), Talking Diamonds (New Issues Press), and The Lake Michigan Mermaid (Wayne State University Press). Her work has been published in numerous magazines and journals such as The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Quarterly West, Witness, New American Writing, North American Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Foster’s poems have also appeared in anthologies from the U.S. and Great Britain, been translated in Poland and Germany, inspired original music compositions, and have been produced for the stage. She has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and has been honored by the Arts Foundation of Michigan, ArtServe Michigan, the National Writer’s Voice, and the Academy of American Poets. From 2003-05, she served as the first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2015, she was honored by the Dyer-Ives Foundation for her poetry and advocacy of the literary arts in west Michigan. Foster is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College.

Publications and Prizes

Books: Amber Necklace From Gdansk (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), Listen to the Landscape (Eerdmans Publishing, 2006), Living in the Fire Nest (Ridgeway Press, 1996), Talking Diamonds (New Issues Press, 2009), The Lake Michigan Mermaid (Wayne State University Press, 2018)

Anthologies: Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry (Wayne State University Press, 2001), Amazing Women of West Michigan (Eerdmans Publishing, 2006), Contemporary Michigan Poetry (Wayne State University Press, 1988), Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball (Michigan State University Press, 2012), Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes (Michigan State University Press, 2006), Modern Poems of Ohio (University of Akron Press, 2002), New Poems From the Third Coast (Wayne State University Press, 2000), Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry (New Issues Press, 2013), Song of the Owashtanong: Grand Rapids Poetry in the 21st Century (Ridgeway Press, 2013), The Art of Survival (Kings Estate Press, 2014), The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home (Holy Cow! Press, 2013)

Journals: America, Another Chicago Magazine, Apalachee Review, Artful Dodge, Atlanta Review, Big Scream, Cheap Pop, Connecticut Review, Connecticut River Review, Driftwood Review, Duende, Earth’s Daughters, Eclipse, Ekphrasis, Fogged Clarity, Free Lunch, Georgia Review, I-70 Review, inch, Indiana Review, KYSO Flash, Mid-American Review, New American Writing, New Millennium Writings, Nimrod, North American Review, Passages North, Poet Lore, PRESA, Quarterly West, River Styx, Sou’wester, Streetlight Magazine, The Cresset, The Fox Chase Review, The MacGuffin, Two Review, Windhover, Witness

Chapbook: A History of the Body (Coffee House Press, 1987), A Modern Fairy Tale: The Baba Yaga Poems (Ridgeway Press, 1992), Contemplating the Heavens (Ridgeway Press, 2001), Ten Songs from Bulgaria (Cervena Barva Press, 2008), The Elusive Heroine: My Daughter Lost in Magritte (Cervena Barva Press, 2018), Trying to Balance the Heart (Sun Dog Press, 1993)

Prizes Won: Finalist, New Millennium Writings Poetry Prize (2016); Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry, Dyer-Ives Foundation (2015); Pushcart Prize Nominations (1982-2013); First runner-up, New Letters Poetry Award (2013); Runner-up, I-70 Review’s Gary Gildner Poetry Award (2013); Honorable Mention, New Millennium Writings Poetry Prize (2013); Finalist, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award (2010); Finalist, New Letters Poetry Award (2010); Creative Arts Award, Polish American Historical Association (2008); Finalist, Michigan Governor’s Arts Award (2007); Selected to be first Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan (2003-2005); Finalist, Ohio Book Award for Poetry (2003); Nominee, Laughlin Award (2002); Creative Artist Grant, ArtServe Michigan (2001); Fellowship, National Writers’ Voice (1999); Finalist, Poet’s Prize (1997); Creative Artist Grant, Arts Foundation of Michigan (1996); Creative Artist Grants for Poetry, Michigan Council for the Arts (1984, 1990).


“The Lake Michigan Mermaid” Coming Soon!

The Lake Michigan Mermaid will be available March 5, 2018 but Preorder Today!

See what people are saying about Linda Nemec Foster’s most recent book!

The Lake Michigan Mermaid is a new tale that feels familiar. The breeze off the lake, the sand underfoot, the supreme sadness of being young and not in control-these sensations come rushing back page-by-page, bringing to life an ancient myth of coming of age in a troubled world. Freed from the minds of Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen, the Lake Michigan mermaid serves as a voice of reason for when we’re caught in the riptide.

This is a gripping tale in poems of a young girl’s desperate search for guidance in a world turned upside down by family and economic upheaval. Raised in a ramshackle cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan, Lykretia takes refuge in her beloved lake in the face of her grandmother’s illness and her mother’s eager attempts to sell their home following her recent divorce. One day Lykretia spots a creature in the water, something beautiful and inexplicable. Is it the mythical Lake Michigan mermaid, or an embodiment of the stories her grandmother told as dementia ravaged her mind? Thus begins a telepathic conversation between a lost young girl and Phyliadellacia, the mermaid who saves her in more ways than one.

Accompanied by haunting illustrations The Lake Michigan Mermaid offers a tender tale of friendship, redemption, and the life-giving power of water. As it explores family relationships and generational bonds, this book is an unforgettable experience that aims to connect readers of all ages.

Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series

A special thanks to: Tony & Linda Nemec Foster, Deborah Meijer’s Rimbaud Fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, the Grace Hauenstein Library, Steven Barclay Agency, & Blue Flower Arts, all who have participated, as well as the Contemporary Writers Committee. For more information please contact the CWS Director at [email protected].

Originally Published by Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College, click here to view article.

NPO Showcase – Aquinas College’s Contemporary Writers Series

Season 14, Episode 3 features Linda Nemec Foster, founder of the Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series. Linda discusses this year’s Series and the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration. To learn more, visit aquinas.edu/cw.


Originally Published by GRCMC, click here to view article.

Linda Nemec Foster- Despite Everything You’re Heard About the Motor City, Detroit’s Poetry Community Flourishes

Linda Nemec Foster blogs about the P&W supported event at UDetroit Cafe. Author of nine collections of poetry, including Talking Diamonds (finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year) and Amber Necklace from Gdansk (finalist for the Ohio Book Award). Linda Nemec Foster’s work has been published in the Georgia Review, Nimrod, North American Review, and New American Writing. Cry of Freedom, her collaboration with musician Laszlo Slomovits, inspired by the poems in her chapbook, Ten Songs from Bulgaria, was released as a CD in 2013. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College.

The same day that the public announcement of Detroit’s bankruptcy was blasted around the world, I was invited to write this blog. Pretty ironic, eh? Not if you know anything about the D’s thriving and dynamic poetry scene. I currently live in west Michigan (Grand Rapids, to be exact), but I lived in Detroit for ten pivotal years in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Those were the years when I started writing poetry and began working on my degree in the country’s first low-residency MFA Program at Goddard College (this program that Ellen Bryant Voigt founded has subsequently moved to Warren Wilson College). There is another reason why the city has played a special role in my life–my first child, Brian, was born there in 1979.

Because of my personal connection to the D, I have maintained close relationships with a number of Detroit’s poets and writers. Through those connections, I have been invited to give readings, workshops, and conference presentations several times a year. Many of those events have been sponsored by Poets & Writers including my appearance on August 15, 2012, at the UDetroit Cafe. That was one very special night.

The venue was packed, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the host–Detroit poetry impresario M. L. Liebler–was a great M.C. His introductions were lively and so were the readers and performers. Besides your humble blogger, the program included the music of the RJ Spangler Trio with Larry Smith, performance poet Wardell Montgomery Jr., Detroit musician Keith Gamble, and poet Mary Jo Firth Gillett. Reading with Mary Jo was particularly wonderful: She’s a fine poet and a former student (she participated in a master level poetry workshop I taught at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1999). Everyone who took the stage was in terrific form. I read five poems including a long piece on my favorite movie star of all time, Barbara Stanwyck. It brought down the house. Who knew that I had a bit of the performance poet in me?

It certainly was a grand evening. Besides, there was someone in the audience that made it even more of a memorable event. Brian (yes, my son who was born in the D) was able to come to the reading and be part of that enthusiastic crowd. Unbeknown to both of us, there was an artist sitting nearby who drew a pen and ink sketch of us while we were talking before the readings: mother and son with the Detroit skyline in the background. He gave us the drawing gratis–”a gift from the D.”

Poets & Writers, with its Readings/Workshops Program, is the epitome of The Gift. The impact of its support that has benefited communities throughout the country is immeasurable. And for a community like Detroit–with everything it’s been through–the Program is a significant affirmation of the vibrant voices of poets and writers that care deeply about their city.

Originally Published by Poets & Writers, click here to view article.

Grand Rapids Poets’ Conference

11:30-12:45 | Website session: Rod Torreson with students, Thru the 3rd Eye; David Cope on professional websites and use of online sources.

Location: 108 Sneden
Exploration of Thru the 3rd Eye, Rod Torreson’s laureate project with students and former students: the website as a way of making connections, developing interviewing and review skills, selection of poems for publication by poets ranging from the well-known to the youthful beginner. If there is time, David Cope will also demonstrate the uses of the poet’s personal/professional website, “scene” sites and websites connecting one to the larger world of poetry publishing.

1:00-2:30 | Reading Series Panel:

Location: 108 Sneden
GVSU, Aquinas, Smokin’ Spoken Word, Literary Life Bookstore & More, WYCE Electric Poetry.
Featuring Patricia Clark, Linda Nemec Foster, Azizi Jasper, Zachary G. Tomaszewski, Deirdre Chervenka Cunningham
Moderator: David Cope
The reading series is both an important means by which to bring local communities of writers together as fellow writers on a journey to awareness and a way to bring local communities into contact with nationally and internationally prominent poets whose work instills an awareness beyond the confines of the provincial limits of an otherwise disconnected local scene. This panel explores that nexus as seen through two major college series, two local reading series, and our local radio series. Panelists will also reflect on the importance of the audience, questions about the art of the reading, and promotion of the series.

2:30-4:25 | Performance / Spoken Word Poetry / Open Mic

Location: Sneden 108
Performers: Azizi Jasper, Poetry West Michigan poets
7:00-8:30 | READING: Patricia Clark, Rod Torreson, Azizi Jasper, David Cope.

Location: Library second floor.
Introduced by David Cope.
11:15-12:45 | Open mic reading.

Location: Sneden 108
MC: David Cope
1:00-2:15 | Poetry and Music with Linda Nemec Foster and Laszlo Slomovits

Location: Sneden 108
The poet and composer will perform, illustrating how two arts can coexist and enhance both arts

2:30-4:00 | Working with a Publisher: editors, copyright, contract, process of publication

Panelists: David Cope, Linda Nemec Foster, L. S. Klatt, Eric Greinke
Location: Sneden 108
Poetry is most importantly made visible through publication, first in journals, magazines, online zines, broadsheets and even self-published books. Young poets and writers entering the arena of publishing for the first time often do not understand the craft of publication, which involves the nature of submitting one’s work, working with editors, understanding of copyright and contracts, and the process of publication. This panel includes some of the most heavily published Grand Rapids poets, who will reflect on these questions and the journeys that they have made in the world of publication.

7:00-8:30 | READING: Linda Nemec Foster, L. S. Klatt, Miriam Pederson

Originally Published by The Grand Rapids Poet Conference, click here to view page archive.

Linda Nemec Foster profiled in West Michigan Woman Magazine

Writers block doesn’t scare Linda Nemec Foster–she’s always writing. As Grand Rapids’ first poet laureate, from 2003 to 2005, her literary oven is always cooking, although she hesitates to talk about the projects that are still in the works.

“I’m superstitious. If I talk too much about a project when it’s still in the hopper, I feel a little bit uncomfortable…I don’t want to jinx it,” she says.

There is plenty to talk about that Linda has already completed. As the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College, the poet, playwright, inspired literary artist works to deepen her own knowledge of the written word and excite others as well.

“I always tell people I have three children, a son, a daughter, and the Contemporary Art Series,” Linda says.

The series launched in 1997, founded by Linda and her husband, Dr. Anthony Foster. She wanted students and faculty to be involved, and to this day, there is still a student representative on the board helping to decide which writers are invited to speak on campus. Presentations are held twice each semester. Since the inaugural lecture, more than sixty authors have come to speak.

“My husband and I never imagined it would blossom into what it has become,” Linda says. “It really has been a labor of love for me, so I’m happy with how this series has grown and really become a permanent fixture in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan art scene.”

The series hosts authors of all literary genres to appeal to a wide range of listeners. The goal, Linda says, is excellence. The series is free and open to the public, and each speaker gives two presentations, one at the lunch-time hour and another in the evening.

“It just really opens up the whole world of great literature to the community, and it’s not just a once a year or certain genre, it’s all facets of the writing life,” she says.

Writing has been a mobile passion in Linda’s life since she put pen to paper seriously in the ’70s.

“I took my first creative writing class in poetry at Wayne (State University) when I lived in Detroit. My husband went to Wayne (Medical School), and I took classes from a poet. Her name was Faye Kicknosway,” Linda remembers.

Linda’s post-graduate classes supplemented her Bachelors Degree from Aquinas, and she later earned a Masters in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. There, Linda studied under the likes of Raymond Carver, Donald Hall, Lisel Mueller, Robert Hass, and Tobias Wolff.

“They had a remarkable faculty of writers that were just beginning their careers. Many went on to very famous careers. They were our teachers!  It was quite a remarkable program. Boy, did I cut my teeth,” she says.

Linda has advice for other women who want to spread their artistic wings.

“Be generous and don’t just hog your accolades for yourself. Really share and be gracious with your time and talents,” she advises. “Work, work, work at writing, and do not be discouraged if you get a lot of rejection. That’s part of the process of the job.”

Originally Published by West Michigan Woman, click here to view article.

Linda Nemec Foster’s poetry collection ‘Talking Diamonds’ sparkles with brilliance

“Talking Diamonds” proves to be a fitting title for Linda Nemec Foster’s latest collection of poetry as the poems within sparkle with brilliance.

Honored as a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s 2010 Book of the Year Award in Poetry, “Talking Diamonds” is arguably Foster’s strongest collection yet — quite a feat for Grand Rapids’ former poet laureate, who adds this, her ninth collection of poems, to her lengthy list of literary accomplishments.

“This was such a labor of love for me, to do this particular book,” Foster said. “When I was putting the manuscript together, I was thinking, ‘There are a lot of dark poems here — about death, my mother’s dementia.’ … Whenever I hear reactions, it makes me feel so good, because it was a challenge to put the book together, some of the poems were not easy to write.”

Although Foster rightly describes the collection as dark, the warmth of her works brings light to the darkness. The poetry here is emotional and moving, the way Lake Michigan moves, slowly and gracefully, a blend of cool swirls bearing shimmers of sunlight.

Among her best here is “Red Amaryllis, 1937,” named for the title of a painting by Georgia O’Keefe and representative of Foster’s gift for ekphrastic writing.

Written for a friend who died 15 years ago, the poem details a real-life experience in which her friend accepted an exotic dancer’s request to dance for him by taking her hand and leading her in a waltz.

The poem for which the collection was named, “Talking Diamonds,” is a pensive piece, bearing a sense of rebirth and desire to be extraordinary:

“They know every facet of their brilliance began as mere/coal — a mere dark fist waiting/for a chance to be something other than ordinary.”

In the final words of the poem, it is revealed that not just diamonds underground become greater than they are, but so do we in the human realm, who similarly wait to awaken.

Filtering through the collection are glimmers of Foster, herself. Although “Talking Diamonds” is filled with poems for people in her life and works of art that served as inspirations for her poems, we still see the artist standing beside the finished work.

“I Enter my Mother’s Dementia” explores her relationship with her mother, through mention of the present and a reflection back to 1974. “The Third Secret of Fatima” reveals her Catholic background (Foster is an Aquinas College alumna).

Another glimpse of the artist here is reminiscent of her book, “Amber Necklace from Gdansk.” We see pieces of amber scattered throughout this newest collection, a reminder of Foster’s rich, Polish heritage.

Even longtime devotees of Foster’s will close the cover of “Talking Diamonds” impressed by how sharply the local poet has honed her craft.

Her works here are exceptional and gleaming, serving as a reminder that even experts can excel beyond their own greatness.

“I chose every word. Every word is meant to be there,” Foster said.

E-mail the author of this story: [email protected]

Originally Published by The Grand Rapids Press, click here to view article.