Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

Poet, Artist, Educator



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A Tribute to Xennia Gittoes-Singh Long



Selected News Articles and Interviews

 Sondra Woodward's interview with Carolyn, broadcast on VFH (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) Radio.

Read Transcript of Carolyn's 2011 interview with Mary Akers, Editor of r.kv.r.y. Quarterly literary journal

Burke woman gathers light with her art
By Christine Cestaro
The Burke Connection

From the outside, it looks like your typical Burke Centre townhouse – no more than 15 years old, aluminum sided and nestled within a row of similar homes in the Commons subdivision.

Once indoors, you can’t help but immediately notice how the similarities end with the light brown carpeting and beige walls.

Standing in the doorway, a visitor is inundated with greenery from the aerial view of the large, leafy plants positioned on the edge of a loft amidst stuffed animals of the jungle and African wild, who seem to be peering down at you.

At ground level, end tables and curio cabinets serve dual functions as furniture and display stands – home to hundreds of colorful artifacts and crafted pieces from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru. Wreaths, hand-woven rugs, wooden pipe instruments and guitars line the perimeter of each room, creating the aesthetic and cultural atmosphere you might expect to find in one of those walk-through Smithsonian exhibits. It’s amazing.

And then, there’s the art.

Framed color is everywhere. There’s Indian art in the living room and African art along the staircase. More can be found in the bathroom, done in the same styles that continue throughout the house and created by the homeowner, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda.

Her paintings are so abundant that Kreiter-Foronda has run out of wall space. She keeps dozens more in her basement laundry room. Her works, usually painted on large canvases, are easily discernible from the others because of the “pour painting” technique Kreiter-Foronda uses, derived from the “action paintings” of the late Jackson Pollock.

She literally pours mixed paint onto canvas, and, orchestrates the expansion of the poured colors as a composer creates his concerto, spotlighting one musician with a solo, but then blending him into the rest of the symphony with perfect harmony. Yellow may stand brightly alone in one spot, but then visually transgress into green as it slides across the canvas into turquoise.

In addition to the paintings, there are her metal sculptures. In addition to the sculptures, there’s her training as a concert pianist. In addition to the music, there’s her latest book of poetry, “Gathering Light.”

“With any art,” she said, “if you can think creatively, I think you can do it.”

Kreiter-Foronda said the name of her book was taken from her George Mason University doctoral dissertation, “Gathering Light: A Poet’s Approach to Poetry Analysis.”

“I thought I was gathering knowledge,” she said, “gathering truth, gathering light.”

Much like the interior décor of her house, many of Kreiter-Foronda’s poems’ subjects are based on the South American Indian heritage (her husband, Patricio, is a native) and are described in terms of color and light:

“The sun is kind/to her as she walks home, her black/overcoat turning blue, her gray hair/violet, her brown shoes red,” she wrote in the poem, “The Old Woman and Colors.”

In “Among the Ruins of Puca Pucara, Peru,” Kreiter-Foronda uses similar imagery for a dancing shepherdess: “Stone terraces brighten/her wavering shadow. Blue, the color/of air so pure in these mountains/that silver does not tarnish./Nor do the reds, yellows, greens/of her gathered skirt lose/their shine in the azure light.”

By coincidence, Kreiter-Foronda said she just discovered that her mother Lucile’s name means “light.” Lucile Kreiter, she added, was key to her development as an artist and writer. Kreiter-Foronda and her older sister, Betsy, were raised learning crafts from their mother. Kreiter-Foronda admitted she also was a “closet poet” as a little girl and loved to write and draw in her spare time.

Today, the 47-year-old Renaissance woman teaches English and creative writing at West Springfield High School, where she began her teaching career in 1969.

“I really like watching people grow,” she said. “There’s nothing more satisfying than being with the students. They’re so into life and into living.”

Kreiter-Foronda and her husband, Patricio (a veterinarian in the Burke Village Center and a talented painter in his own right), have spent much of their free time traveling and exploring the cultures of South America.

“I wanted to show some of the Indian life that is so deceptively simple but yet rich in spirit,” Kreiter-Foronda said of her work and travel experience.

Right now, Kreiter-Foronda is learning Spanish while her husband perfects his English. She said she hopes to some day write and translate children’s tales from Spanish to English, and have her husband help with the translations and illustrations.

“We’re big dreamers,” she said. “Without your dreams, there’s no future.”

(posted with permission from The Burke Connection)

Mason Alumna Is New Virginia Poet Laureate

June 30, 2006

By Colleen Kearney Rich, The Mason Gazette


Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Photo courtesy Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda
Poet Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda admits that she doesn’t know how to be retired, and it doesn’t look like things will be slowing down for her anytime soon.

Gov. Timothy Kaine appointed Kreiter-Foronda to the post of Virginia poet laureate, and she will travel to Richmond next week to be sworn in.

Kreiter-Foronda spent 31 years working with Fairfax County Public Schools in a number of capacities before retiring with her husband, Patricio, to a home on the water in Middlesex County. For years she taught at West Springfield High School while taking course after course at George Mason part-time.

“I knew I wanted to get my master’s degree in literature, but they kept adding new courses and degree programs, and I kept taking them,” she says. As a result, Kreiter-Foronda holds three graduate degrees from Mason. She earned her master of education in 1973 and her master of arts in English in 1979.

“Then one of my good friends told me about [poet] Peter Klappert and said I had to take a class with him,” she says. “It changed my life. I truly consider him my mentor.”

Kreiter-Foronda enrolled in Mason’s first doctoral program, working toward a doctor of arts in education. Because of the earlier course work for her M.Ed. she was able to devote more of her class time to her writing, working with Klappert and a number of award-winning poets.

“It was such an exciting time at the university,” she says. “They were bringing in big names writers from across the country.” Some of the writers she got to study with while at Mason include Donald Justice, Margaret Atwood, Maxine Kumin and Ai.

In 1983, Kreiter-Foronda was awarded the very first doctoral degree given by the university. “It was a wonderful occasion,” she says of her commencement. Kreiter-Foronda is still tickled by the fact that she shares a milestone with her alma mater and shows up on university timelines, most recently in the Mason Spirit.

Since that time, she has published four books of poetry, “Contrary Visions,” “Gathering Light,” “Death Comes Riding” and "Greatest Hits.” Her work has appeared widely in magazines and journals, including Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner and Antioch Review.

She is a also sculptor and painter, combining her love of poetry with the visual arts by conducting art-inspired writing workshops for teachers and the general public in museums and galleries such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond.

She credits her abilities as a writing instructor to the time she spent with the Northern Virginia Writing Project, working with its founders Chris Thaiss and Don Gallehr. Kreiter-Foronda attended the NVWP’s first summer institute in 1978. “Chris and Don have shared their expertise with so many appreciative teachers.”

Kreiter-Foronda is currently helping edit an instructional guide to accompany a DVD on Virginia Poet Laureates from 1996-2004 and has established a Poetry-in-the-Schools Program through the Poetry Society of Virginia to promote poetry at all instructional levels. In 1992, she was named a Virginia cultural laureate for her contributions to American literature.

Kreiter-Foronda also feels strongly about helping other writers. In every presentation or reading she gives, she makes an effort to mention other poets, read their work and share copies of their books with the audience.

“I love teaching. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with others and talk about the things I love,” she says. “I see this appointment as an invaluable opportunity to promote poetry on a large scale.”

Posted with link with Author's permission


Website Donated in memory of Julia May Chase, Poet