Katherine Hastings


Jack Foley is the first poet I’ve known who includes CDs with his books. The first morning I played one of his CDs, a chorus performed with his wife, Adelle, I literally jumped out of my chair in amazement. “He can’t do that!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here is a paragraph I included in an email to him:
  My thought on why people respond so strongly to much of your work: You don't tell them how to feel in a poem as many poems do. Instead, you offer tension—the reader/audience responds because they feel so many things at once. And they’re not sure they should be feeling so much—but they do, they just can’t help it. Then they’re left with their own questions. How can I feel disgust and compassion for Father O’Fondle (“Eli, Eli”) all at once? Reading “Eli, Eli”...on the page creates a strong reaction; hearing you read it makes some people lose their sense of balance because you are such an amazing reader of your work—you write it perfectly, you deliver the work perfectly and there everyone is wondering what the hell just happened! Some will admire you for doing this, some will despise it. What more could anyone ask? People are reacting, but not with a nap!

Under Jack’s influence, I went on to write my long poem, “Sidhe,” a poem that includes narrative, Irish spells, curses, blessings and more—it was my first poem with more than one “voice.” It was, to say the least, a freeing experience that I’ll always be grateful to him for. Because of this, it is dedicated to Jack in my first full-length collection, Cloud Fire (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012).

               —Katherine Hastings