Monkey Talk

Tonya Foster is an essayist and poet based in the Bay Area, CA.

Artist Bio

Combining poetry, dialogues, fictive FBI records, and non-fiction prose, Monkey Talk follows a 20th Century artist-philanthropist relationship that is being tracked by government surveillance and a young scholar’s curiosity. Focused on the ways that artistic creations act as monitors and are also monitored, the multi-volume project tracks parallel, contesting conversations around race.

Award Year

In Progress

2021 Artist Retreat Presentation

A wide-eyed poet, her hair wrapped, her crocked smile broad, looks out at the photographer and the viewer looking back at her. There is curiosity. There is joy in possibility

Tonya Foster

San Francisco, CA

Tonya Foster is an essayist and poet based in the Bay Area, CA. Her full-length poetry collection, A Swarm of Bees in High Court was published by Belladonna* in 2015, the same year that she became an Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts. In 2016, Foster’s bilingual chapbook La Grammaire des Os was published by joca seria on the occasion of a three-city tour in France. For a time, Foster’s creative practice involved completing a dissertation, with a few noted exceptions: a presentation at the University of Pittsburgh’s CAAPP center in collaboration with architect Mabel Wilson, readings at CalArts, Otis College, DIA Art Foundation Chelsea, and the Lévy Gorvy Gallery on the occasion of a Diane Arbus exhibit. For the Gorvy reading, Foster began a long epistolary poem to her eight year old nieces’ future selves. A poetry editor at Fence Magazine, and a member of the poetry and fiction editing collective at The African-American Review, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Obsidian, Boundary2, Poetry Project Newsletter, The Harvard Review, Best American Experimental Writing, Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing, and elsewhere.

Photo: Ted Roeder