COLLISIONS: violences by Jack Foley


Foley, Jack


San Francisco Bay-area poet Jack Foley has published eighteen books of poetry, five books of criticism, a book of stories, and a 1300-page “chronoencyclopedia,” Visions & Affiliations: California Poetry 1940-2005. With his late wife, Adelle, he became known for his multi-voiced “choruses,” a practice he has continued with his new life partner, Sangye Land. He has presented poetry on Berkeley, California radio station KPFA regularly since 1988 and is a host of KPFA’s literary program, “Cover to Cover.” He has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards, one from Marquis Who’s Who and one from the Berkeley Poetry Festival. The city of Berkeley declared June 5, 2010 “Jack Foley Day” in Berkeley. In addition, he is the first recipient of the K.M. Anthru International Literary Prize from the Kerala, India-based magazine, LITTERATEUR RW. His most recent books are Grief Songs, a book dealing with his sorrow at his wife’s death; When Sleep Comes: Shillelagh Songs, poems ranging from traditional to experimental verse; Duet of Polygon, a collaboration with Japanese poet Maki Starfield; and the companion volumes, The Light of Evening, a brief autobiography, and A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads, a psychobiography dealing with “the growth of a poet’s mind,” and Creative Death, a book of poems. In 2019, poets/scholars Dana Gioia and Peter Whitfield published Jack Foley’s Unmanageable Masterpiece—a book of essays discussing Visions & Affiliations. Poet Olchar E. Lindsann writes, “Jack Foley’s constantly evolving and exploratory writing has been a mainstay of the American avant-garde for many decades, and his detailed histories of California poetic communities demonstrate an engaged poetic historiography.” In 1994 Lawrence Ferlinghetti remarked at the conclusion of Jack’s radio interview with him, “Jack Foley is doing great things in articulating the poetic consciousness of San Francisco.”

Octogenarian Jack Foley’s COLLISIONS is a book at play in the forests of the mind. The opening quotation from Dana Gioia defines the book’s understanding of consciousness: “Human consciousness is an unstable republic of conflicting impulses, instincts, and appetites in perpetual flux.” COLLISIONS is an attempt to honor that notion of the chaos of consciousness while at the same time giving the reader an experience of thought and feeling that is not so chaotic that it is overwhelming. It tries to tell the truth about the mind in a way that feels if not comfortable at least familiar: we too have felt that fire, that movement. The book asserts that the fundamental condition of poetry is words in motion, constantly dis/uncovering perceptions of the new. “Ecstasy seems to be linked to the instability of language.” Familiar with the many forms of traditional poetry and comfortable with the making of new forms, Foley conceives of every living poet as an Orpheus attempting to rescue poetry-as-Eurydice. If poetry to some extent reveals the ramifications of the poet’s identity, it does so in the context of the coruscations of words whose flashes move beyond identity into something more. The book deliberately plunges us into mystery as everything collides with everything else. Foley writes to a fellow poet, “‘Home’ is where you belong but ‘home’ isn’t anywhere: it is always a profound absence: ‘sound, noise that reaches for the ever-receding light.’ I think that, underneath all the ‘influences,’ is this deep longing which is always asserted and always denied.” Baudelaire: “heaven or hell who cares / In the depths of the unknown to find something new.”

Literature, Humanities, American Literature, Poetry, California, California Poets, Jack Foley, American Studies
Release Date: 
May 20, 2024
9781680533354 Hardcover, 9781680533361 Paperback
$45 Hardcover, $38 Paperback
Trim Size: 

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