Joy Street by Laura Foley
Author: Laura Foley
Genre: Poetry (Relationships / LGBTQ / Motherhood / Parents / On Writing)
Publisher/Publication Date: Headmistress Press (7/8/2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: More than thirty brief, but powerful, poems on love, life, everyday joy and everyday loss.
Do I like the cover?: I'm not sure -- it captures some of the feel of the volume, but just isn't a favorite of mine.
I'm reminded of...: Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Yuko Taniguchi
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy.
Why did I get this book?: I like poetry now and then, and poetry is good for me right now.
Review: This slender collection of poems -- about 33 -- is a deceptively quick read, but Foley's pieces invite rereading and ruminating. In plain, straightforward language, Foley shares the joy of partnership and everyday bliss, the bite of remembered pain, the anxiety of social situations.
I have complicated feelings about poetry: I like the idea of liking poetry, but honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm struggling to "get" a poem. Sometimes, despite loving the sashay of language, I get tired of the tumble of verse. But I enjoy contemporary poets like Foley who remind me that poetry is more than meter and rhyme.
This collection, like the volumes of short stories I've been devouring, was perfect for my life right now, when I don't have lots of free time to read. Instead, I could dip in and pluck out a poem to read, quick, when I had a free moment.
Foley articulated moments both familiar and alien in neat, compact sentences:
I've been pretending I'm my quiet musician son, thinking/deep thoughts, but feeling bored and awkward, a pained smile/cracking my face. (from 'Dinner Party')or
My father not humming the/whole of four winters, or to my knowledge, since. (from 'Not Humming')and her 'Fruedian Quips', which humorously describes the maddening hilarity of conference calls, is familiar to anyone who has sat through one. (I was reminded of this comedy video, which is oh-too-true.)
Other pieces merge the mundane with the more artistic: 'Gelato', a piece in which her partner eats the treat purchased for her, has the cadence and echo of William Carlos Williams' 'This Is Just To Say' while 'Maternal Semiotics' makes lyrical the act of breastfeeding (a piece that particularly resonated with me right now!).
Fans of narrative-style poetry will want to get this one; those who are new to poetry might enjoy this unvarnished and clear collection. Those who like LGBTQ literature will want this one, as Foley writes about her partner, coming out as queer, and facing commentary from those who don't understand her identity.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Joy Street to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 1/23. See my Giveaway Policy for complete rules.