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Foster, Sesshu

Foster, Sesshu


Born in Los Angeles, CA.


Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA 94133.


Poet, novelist, educator. Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School, Los Angeles, CA, composition and literature instructor, 1985—.


American Book Award (with Naomi Quinonez and Michelle Clinton), 1990, for Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry; finalist, PEN Center West Poetry Prize, 1996, for City Terrace: Field Manual; Top Shelf 2005 list, Village Voice, for Atomik Aztex.


(Editor, with Naomi Quinonez and Michelle Clinton) Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry, West End Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1989.

City Terrace: Field Manual (poetry), Kaya Production (New York, NY), 1996.

Atomik Aztex (novel), City Lights (San Francisco, CA), 2005.

Contributor of poetry to numerous journals and anthologies.


Sesshu Foster is a poet and novelist living in East Los Angeles, where he was brought up. His 1996 poetry collection, City Terrace: Field Manual, was a finalist for the PEN Center West Poetry Prize. In 2005 he turned his hand from verse to fiction with his debut novel, Atomik Aztex, a "potent mythopolitical brew," according to Anthony Miller, writing in the online LA City Beat. Foster posits an alternate history for the Aztecs, who, in his version, conquered the Spanish invaders in the 1500s and went on to conquer much of Europe and form the Aztek Socialist Imperium. The book is narrated by Zenzontli, the Keeper of the House of Darkness, who dwells in the congested and polluted capital of Teknotitlan. However, Zenzontli also finds himself transported through time and space to be, simultaneously, a butcher at Farmer John's Meat Packing Plant in modern-day Los Angeles. Through Zenzontli, Foster tells a myriad of tales, from the Aztec collaboration with the Soviets in a suicide mission against the Nazis, to in-fighting amongst powerful ruling elites in the Aztec empire.

Foster's Atomik Aztex received high praise from many critics. Writing in Library Journal, David A. Berona called the work "cleverly written" and a "fine example of alternative fiction with a strong social theme." For a Publishers Weekly critic, the novel was a "genre-straddling tour de force," as well as "brilliantly inventive." Similarly, a reviewer for Village Voice Online felt Foster alternates from "the creases he's pressed into the wrinkled fabric of reality." And Miller added further praise: "An absolutely incandescent work of imagination, Foster's first novel meshes the cosmological and the quotidian, the conundrums of the nature of time and history as well as the dilemmas of daily life in East L.A."



Library Journal, January 1, 2006, David A. Berona, review of Atomik Aztex, p. 95.

Publishers Weekly, October 24, 2005, review of Atomik Aztex, p. 36.


LA City Beat, (January 12, 2006), Anthony Miller, "Atomik Ages."

Modern American Poetry, (July 6, 2006), "Sesshu Foster."

PoeticDiversity, (July 6, 2006), "Sesshu Foster."

Village Voice Online, (December 13, 2005), "Top Shelf 2005."

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