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COLLISIONS : Violences by Jack Foley - Jack Foley

COLLISIONS

Violences by Jack Foley

By: Jack Foley

Hardcover | 22 February 2024

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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."


Industry Reviews
COLLISIONS lives up to its title by acting as a literary particle accelerator, slamming two or more things together to see what mysterious energies are released and what enlightenment might be shed by the encounter. There's a reason Foley's subtitle describes these pieces as "violences." Many are poems in the traditional sense, whether formal or free verse (and he is equally adept at both modes). Mixed in, however, are essays, historical notes, cultural commentaries, translations, collaborations, what could almost be called journal entries, and even reviews: the first piece is a magnificent prose poem of praise for Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The poet's always lyrical voice expertly unifies these disparate elements. Everything becomes poetry when he says it. Underneath the voice, though, is the running theme of consciousness as a chordal phenomenon. There are many Jack Foleys represented here, and every man Jack of them is on a spiritual quest to understand the universe. The journey becomes ours as we read and peer over his shoulder in wonder, like watching an astronaut of the soul step onto a strange new world.--Kurt Luchs



Foley is multilingual, multidimensional in performance and on the page...Very little poetry these days is as compelling or comprehensively challenging to the imagination. To really read this work is to be irrevocably transformed at some essential place--not to be cast adrift but to come home, to open heart and senses.--Steven Hirsch, Heaven Bone



Jack Foley is doing great things in articulating the poetic consciousness of San Francisco. --Lawrence Ferlinghetti, "Cover to Cover," KPFA radio



Jack Foley is our firebrand experimentalist and he holds his torch high so the reader can have more light. --Michael McClure



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 including O Powerful Western Star and Visions and Affiliations demonstrate [an] engaged poetic historiography. --Olchar E. Lindsann, R?venance: A Zine of Hauntings from Underground Histories



One of American poetry's essential thinkers and practitioners. --Christopher Bernard, Poetry Flash



There is no one alive who has done more for California poetry than Jack Foley. He is the most important living person for California poetry...the leading man of letters of California. --Dana Gioia



To read this book is to enter the mind of a poet who embodies living history. At 83, his intellect is no less formidable than ever, while his accumulated knowledge and wisdom are at their peak.--Deborah Bachels Schmidt



You continue to do in poetry and ideas what you have always done: challenge our assumptions and force us to actually think. --Jake Berry


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