Jack Foley writes what he does not know; he writes what he can imagine. The dead sprout up here as easily as leaves of grass.

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Jack Foley, The Tiger and Other Tales, Sagging Meniscus Press, 2016.

Jack Foley’s autobiography begins, “What is a life but stories?” The stories collected here are not his life but a fantastic consciousness in which he is as lost as anyone. Foley writes what he does not know; he writes what he can imagine. The dead sprout up here as easily as leaves of grass. These stories manifest “the strangeness and the power of poetry":
“His friend had gone. They had embraced, exchanged good-byes. Michael had said, You know, the trouble with me is that I can only be certain I’m alive when I’m in the midst of a crisis. I manufacture them, I suppose. The words stayed in Abraham’s mind: certain I’m alive. It was then that he remembered. Michael was not alive. He had been dead for several weeks. He remembered the letter, Dear Abraham, it is with great pain that we tell you…. Michael had been buried in six feet of ground, he had been at the funeral himself. How could he have forgotten that?”
Stylistically the stories range widely—some are comic, some bring tears. All plunge us into the enigma of the human heart. In a poem about a Christmas tree, Foley writes of
                   our liv-
   ing, dead tree, but dec-
   orated with shining life
   to tell us death is wild
   transfiguration death is

“Jack Foley continues to grow and surprise. Add to his accomplishments in poetry, criticism, literary scholarship, and radio promotion of poetry and poets, this small, brilliant collection of tales, short plays and occasional prose pieces. Foley’s unique combination of insight, originality, erudition, and humanity, combined with a hitherto unsuspected flair for story-telling, are in full display here—from a bittersweet faux Irish fable to a tongue-only-partly-in-cheek apologia for the Australian literary hoax ‘Ern Malley’ (the intellectual’s J.T. Leroy), from a purgatorial comedy of family manners to a Shavian satire full of pith ‘and vinegar,’ set in Hell and starring the Devil and G. B. Shaw himself, to the collection’s eponymous masterpiece, an arabesque from a 21st century Scheherazade. The book is a bracing pleasure.” — Christopher Bernard

Having never so much as caught an echo of the name Jack Foley on the wind, and the wind often breathes the names of avant-garde West Coast poets, this volume was a splendid introduction to the sort of berserk and bodacious writer who is a perfect stranger to the phrase “risk-averse”. The tales in this collection are often in the form of fables, or fablish in nature, featuring some lemming-like disciples in ‘Broughton Fountain’, a moronic monster DDD in ‘The Monst’, and a phoney phantom in ‘An E-Mail to George’. Some of the tales produce wondrous bafflement, as in the nutty ‘The Ern Malley Story’ or the scrap of script ‘Adventures of Sally Phillips, Girl Detective’. There are stories in verse, and two short plays, and other pieces of curious humour that will keep you smirking like a smug smirker. Recommended for fans of gorgeously designed small press oddball books (i.e. me, and others like me). - http://www.verbivoraciouspress.org/our-year-in-books-2016/

 I can’t get it out of my head that, though I may be “unique,” I am not an “individual.” The word “individual” comes from the Latin individuus—indivisible, something which can no longer be “divided.” If I think of myself as a political entity, then I am happy to be individuus: the rights of the individual are everywhere to be respected. If I think of myself as a thinking/feeling entity, however, I am something very different from that: I am not at all individuus; I am as divided as I can be. - Jack Foley

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O Powerful Western Star: Poetry & Art in California, Pantograph Press, 2000.

This large-format book, which comes with a CD, is full of rich insight into San Franciscos's literary culture. Well-known as the host of KPFA's literary radio show "Cover to Cover," author Jack Foley has lived in the Bay Area for nearly four decades, and his historical, critical, visionary, and poetic observations are born of personal involvement as much as active research. The essays, talks, and interviews of O POWERFUL WESTERN STAR are introduced by Dana Gioia.

"Jack Foley's O Powerful Western Star is not only an engrossing and original book. It is also for Californians--a necessary one. Foley's collection ranks high among the few serious investigations ever written of San Francisco literary culture. It is, however, by no means a conventional study. O Powerful Western Star is by turns historical, critical, philosophical, visionary, and poetic. It is also often autobiographical. Foley has lived in the Bay Area for nearly four decades, and his insights grow from personal involvement as well as active research. Literary criticism is rarely so intellectually wide-ranging, imaginatively suggestive, or unabashedly personal . . ." --Dana Gioia, former head of the National Endowment for the Arts

"Foley is doing great things in articulating the poetic consciousness of San Francisco"—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Foley's Books: California Rebels, Beats & Radicals (A companion volume to O Powerful Western Star.) Pantograph Press, 2000.
A companion volume to Foley's O POWERFUL WESTERN STAR, this book contains reviews and articles on a variety of people, all stemming from Foley's many years of writing and thinking about poetry, Beats, rebels, and radicals. "Literary criticism is rarely so intellectually wide-ranging, imaginatively suggestive, or unabashedly personal"—Dana Gioia


Jack Foley (born 1940) has published thirteen books of poetry, five books of criticism, and VISIONS AND AFFILIATIONS, a "chronoencyclopedia" of California poetry from 1940 to 2005. His radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard on Berkeley station KPFA every Wednesday at 3; his column, "Foley's Books," appears in the online magazine, The Alsop Review. With his late wife, Adelle, Foley performed his work (often "multi–voiced" pieces) frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is continuing to work with others. With poet Clara Hsu, Foley is co–publisher of Poetry Hotel Press. In 2010 Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and June 5, 2010 was proclaimed "Jack Foley Day" in Berkeley.


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