Page 5 - Jack Foley | The true litterateur
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Foley worked hard as a graduate student at Berkeley and tried to keep his

              poetry  going  amid  all  the  furor  of  "the  sixties."  He  was  only  moderately
              successful at this, and an encounter with Charles Olson's Maximus poems
              made  him  realize  what  he  was  not  doing.  Olson's  bold,  "post  modern"

              work returned Foley to the love that had sent him to the university in the
              first place. He realized that the poem offered him a choice: Do you want to
              be this (a professor) or do you want to be this (a poet, Olson)? The choice
              was obvious. Foley dropped out of school. He wanted to be Olson.



              As he worked more at his poetry, Foley began to develop various more or
              less  original  techniques  of  writing  and  presenting  poetry.  He  persuaded
              Adelle  to  help  him  perform  what  he  called  "choruses"--a  word  that

              conjured  up  both  the  ancient  Greeks  and  the  world  of  musical  comedy.
              The first of these choruses was performed at a friend's birthday party in
              the  early  1970s.  It  was  not  performed  again  until  1985,  when  it  was
              featured  at  Foley's  first  poetry  reading.  That  reading,  at  Larry  Blake's
              Restaurant  in  June,  transformed  Foley's  life.  His  new  friend,  Iván

              Argüelles,  arranged  the  reading  and  read  with  Foley.  Many  local  literati
              came to hear Iván Argüelles but they heard Jack Foley as well. It was an
              amazing experience: if anyone at all had been interested in Foley's poetry

              before  that  reading  it  was  only  because  they  were  interested  in  Foley
              personally; for the first time, people wanted to know Foley because of their
              reaction to his poetry. When, much later, someone remarked to all three
              Foleys that they were uncertain how students might react to Foley's work,

              Sean  remarked,  "Don't  worry.  They  won't  know  what  hit  them.  Which  is
              sort of the point."


              During the next thirty years, Jack and Adelle Foley became fixtures of the

              San  Francisco  Poetry  Scene.  Adelle  began  to  write  poetry  herself  and
              presented it at their many readings, and in 1988 Jack was offered a radio
              show on Berkeley radical station, KPFA-FM. That show continues to this
              day. Foley even created a "tap dance" poem which featured not only his

              words  but  a  bit  of  the  art  his  father  taught  him.  Over  the  years,  Foley
              published a multitude of books with various publishers--books of poetry
              but books of essays as well. One of his most significant productions was
              the  two-volume,  1300-page  "chronoencyclopedia,"  Visions  &  Affiliations:

              California  Poetry  1940-2005,  published  by  Iván  Argüelles'  Pantograph
              Press in 2011. In 2018, Visions & Affiliations itself became the subject of a
           '  book, Jack Foley's Unmanageable Masterpiece, edited by Dana Gioia and
                                                        5
              Peter Whitfield.                                                            Litterateur
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