Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why I Write Poetry, not Prose: A Guest Post by Laura Foley

Laura Foley is the author of four collections of poetry: Joy Street, The Glass Tree, Mapping the Fourth Dimension, and Syringa.  As if being a poet isn't enough, she's also a volunteer chaplain, yoga teacher, and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, who resides in Vermont with her partner, Clara, and their three dogs.  In connection with yesterday's review of Joy Street, here is an exclusive guest post by Laura Foley, which includes a poem.


Laura's workspace

Why I Write Poetry, not Prose: A Guest Post by Laura Foley

For this blog post, I am asking the question why I write poetry, not prose.  Many of the poems in my new chapbook, Joy Street, originated in a writing group for prose writers.  I was the only poet, and I wanted to see what it would be like to try prose.  As it turned out, everything I wrote came out in little bursts of images, emotional explosions.  Some people call them prose poems, some people call them poems, some say it’s flash non-fiction. Whatever the name, writing these small stories is what I most enjoy doing, and feels genuine to my experience.  I love the process of working an image into a shape, to chip at a block of remembered experience until it shines with it’s own essence.  When I was a kid, I liked to collect postage stamps, exotic animals from Africa, a queen from Spain, an Indonesian palm leaf: lovely little worlds.  Also as a child, I had a mineral collection, each one in its own little box.  I’ve written a poem about this which I’ll include here.  Maybe it explains a little about why I write poems?  In any case, whatever I write, I hope it shines.

Little Rooms

In fourth grade I made a box
for stones, twenty little rooms, 
each gem tidy
on its cotton-puff bed: 
limonite, quartz, azurite; 
each name printed neatly on paper labels
in royal blue: garnet, 
muscovite, feldspar. 
Twenty little rooms
equal in comfort, 
labeled with certainty: 
pyrite, gypsum, magnetite; 
each owning definite properties: 
could scratch lines on another, or not, 
shine like gold, streak like chalk, 
or break glass-like
into fragile prismatic shards.

Thank you very much for your guest post and poem, Laura!  I enjoyed reading this "small story", as well as the ones in Joy Street.  Your poems truly are "like crystal: delicate, sharp, clear, full of light", as poet Patricia Fargnoli says, and they emanate joy.


Special thanks to Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit and to Lisa from TLC for the opportunity to present this guest post.  Please visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for Joy Street.  

Your comments are appreciated.  If you'd like an additional entry in my giveaway for Joy Street, please indicate that in your comment here. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joy Street: Review and Giveaway

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
~ Mark Twain 

Published in 2014, Joy Street by poet Laura Foley is a chapbook of thirty-three poems.  I read Joy Street quickly and intently one afternoon, then reread it on a different day, and jotted down some notes.  I read a few of the poems out loud (when I was the only one at home) because poetry is meant to be heard.  I'm never quite sure how to best read or review a collection of poems (or short stories), but I suppose there is no right or wrong way.

The poems in Joy Street are honest and personal, and could be autobiographical.  Some of the poems (or poetic narratives) are written as descriptive paragraphs, rather than in stanzas.  Below is a short example of this style, in Laura Foley's poem about writing, which will resonate with writers.

On Sense

After two beach weeks, sun-tanned and sandy, I perch, air-deprived as 
a pet canary, amidst piled books, diligently marking paper with pen, 
while anybody with any sense enjoys the air at the nearest body of 
water, as I follow the urge to make sense of surf, to make waves that 
may outlast memory. 

The title of the collection, Joy Street, is found in the poem, No GPS Necessary, although the author's profound sense of joy is present throughout the book.  Laura Foley expresses the joy she feels in various poems: while buying fruit in Springtime at the Grocery Store, when she sees her partner, Clara, gardening in Voyeur, while Clara is at the hospital in Like Teenagers, and elsewhere. This poet shares her joy with readers in a clear, direct, and distinct manner.  The collection is aptly titled, and these poems gracefully capture moments of joy.  I found the poems interesting and I enjoyed reading them.  Joy Street made me think about the joy I feel in my own life (my cup runneth over at times), and it made me feel appreciative.

Thanks to the author and TLC, I'm very pleased to offer a giveaway for this book (U.S.A. /Canada).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or indicate that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For another chance, share some joy!  Name "a little thing" that gives you joy (mine is panang curry with tofu). 
  • For one more entry, leave a comment on tomorrow's guest post with Laura Foley.

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, February 2.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, February 3.  Best of luck to all!

Special thanks to Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit for inviting me to participate in this tour, and to Lisa from TLC for providing a copy of this book.  Please stop by again tomorrow for my guest post with Laura Foley.  For more reviews, giveaways, and other features, visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for Joy Street.

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Some of the books reviewed here have been provided
to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents,
in exchange for my honest reviews.