Page 18 - Jack Foley | The true litterateur
P. 18

"Kid, I didn't think you'd be able to go."























                "There was of course a 'real' Thomas Gray, a man who actually existed and
                who did a number of things beside write poetry. The Gray I was experiencing
                was  not  that  person  but  Gray  the  poet,  the  bard.  Aspects  of  both  our  lives
                seemed suddenly to fall away, to be of little consequence. What did it matter

                who the man Thomas Gray was? What did it matter who I was -born in New
                Jersey,  growing  up  in  New  York?  My  powerful  reaction  to  Gray's  words
                allowed me to recognize not only who he was but who I was: I 'was' a poet.
                And  to  'be'  a  poet  meant  to  be  transformed,  to  move  away  from  the  person
                who  lived  at  58  Prospect  Street  and  who  was  15  years  old  and  who  had  a
                mother  named  Juan  and  a  father  named  Jack.  Poetry  offered  me  another
                identity, that of the poet; and, in so doing, it offered me another `home' -that of
                words. The life I led 'at home' -'in my house' -was one thing; the life of words
                (the wordworld!) was another.


                When  I  arrived  at  Cornell  one  of  my  poems  had  been  published  in  my  high
                school  yearbook  ("We  shall  return  no  more,  no  more,  our  days....").  Three
                short  pieces  had  been  selected  for  an  anthology  of  high  school  poetry.
                Another  poem  had  been  published  in  a  series  called  "Yale  Penny  Poets."
                (Later  I  learned  that  Larry  Eigner  had  a  poem  in  that  series  as  well.)  I
                momentarily  considered  majoring  in  math,  which  I  was  good  at  and  had
                enjoyed in high school. But I knew that my primary interests lay elsewhere,
                and I became an English major. My minor was French literature.












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