Writing the Past – Kate Foley

Kate Foley reading from both her collections, The Don’t Touch Garden, and A Gift of Rivers at our Writing the Past event for Hither Green Festival at Manor House Library on Saturday.

Kate is next reading at Fourth Friday, at the Poetry Cafe,Betterton Street London, this Friday

Sounds of Arachne – support our crowd fund

We don’t just do print! We now have Audio books – well, one.

Pledge £5 or more in our crowd fund to raise cash for DUSK and receive The Don’t Touch Garden Audio book – poems written and read by Kate Foley

Our first audio book, hot off the mixing desk, not available in shops until January. Available as a downloadable MP3.

Or if music is more your thing, Pledge £12 or more to receive a Ticket to Ride CD  from Vocal Chords Choir, our regular collaborators on Solstice Shorts, singing songs with a travel theme. There is only ONE of these available

The Don’t Touch Garden Audio Book

To celebrate our 5th anniversary, our first ever audio book. Available to download from our web shop from Friday 8th September £5.

In the (on-line) shops end of January 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Foley’s poetry collection, The Don’t Touch Garden.

Here’s the introduction to give you a flavour.

Drawn from poems written over several years, this book’s dizzying ambition is to plot a path through the life of an adopted child. Foley does so with consummate skill, creating poetic forms to encompass the experiences of the child, her birth mother, her adoptive parents, aunts and midwives. Foley’s language is imagistic, fragmentary, full of jump-cuts, yet always vigorously carried forward through a set of clear-speaking voices to show us that the “DNA of years” is just as formative as that “tangle of parental DNA” we are each born with. There is suffering and lies, grief, distance and disappointment, but her message is ultimately an optimistic one: blood is not thicker than water; we are each of us, to a large extent, creators of ourselves, parents of ourselves. Brilliantly focused and carefully sequenced, these poems provide a thrilling and moving account of the processes by which any of us – adopted or not – become who we are.

Martyn Crucefix

These poems are an absorbing account of the legacy of being an adopted child. With language at once forthright and tender, this moving sequence reflects Foley’s unflinching gaze into the mirror in a sometimes excoriating attempt to discern traces of her belonging, and to make peace with the past. An illuminating must-read for adoptees and their parents, both biological and de facto, and for adoption workers who engage with the precarious task of arranging the exchange of one set of parents with another.

 Joy Howard. (Poet, publisher and former Fostering Services Manager).

Review of The Don’t Touch Garden in Salzburg Review

A lovely long review of Kate Foley‘s The Don’t Touch Garden from Lindsay MacGregor in Poetry Salzburg Review

Kate Foley’s eighth collection, The Don’t Touch Garden, is firmly rooted in her own life…
It is hardly surprising that it has taken Foley, born in 1938, so many years to publish these poems. She confronts difficult issues and complex feelings head on. “Lost Property” (8-9), imagining the distress of her birth mother, ends rue-fully: “She’s lost her memory but not / its weight and shape and pain.” (9)
Foley is adept at using sound, particularly alliteration and rhythm, to bring observed moments to life. So, in the title poem, we distinctly hear the repeated hacking as: “My father coughs the cough that kills / thirty years later” (16).
The collection makes for a challenging read, confronting all of us with the vulnerability of childhood and the isolation that comes with inability to articulate feeling.
But there’s humour too. In an observation which may resonate with many British readers, “My mother murdered cabbage. / It died with a yelp in the pot.”
This is a tender and moving collection. Although it is about adoption, there is something in this collection for anyone who has been a child…

Kate Foley & Cherry Potts reading at Gay’s the Word – Video

We had a great evening at Gay’s the Word – thank you to Uli & Jim – and despite Kate’s determination to walk out of shot, we have some video – where it got silly, with just a sleeve on show, there’s audio instead.

Here’s Cherry reading a bit about family from The Dowry Blade, chosen specially to link with Kate’s themes, and not read elsewhere.

and audio of the other section read

Here’s Kate reading a varied selection of poems from The Don’t Touch Garden

Blue Glass, Empty Pram:

Oral History:

My Father Counting Sheep:

The Elephant Aunts:

 

and here, reading an abridged version of the long title poem.

continued off camera…

The Dowry Blade launch tour – Beckenham video

Video

Here’s a slightly out of focus video of Cherry Potts reading from The Dowry Blade at Beckenham Bookshop.

Next stop on the tour: Gay’s the Word on 24th March, with Kate Foley also reading, from The Don’t Touch Garden

Review of The Don’t Touch Garden from ArtemisPoetry Nov2015

a random button / from my mother’s button box / though each one had its story, / a scrap of whole cloth / dangling from its shank. (Sometimes I Feel Another Face)

Foley’s account of her search to make the random particular is absorbing and moving. She writes of the intimate details of family life, warts and all, with painful regret at the stiffness of her relationship with her mother who as she remembers “made the world / seven times over each day … and peopled it, / a touch of iron / for those who strayed / beyond the picket / of your imagination” (Making the Days).

Her father – whose large hands, at once hard and tender, feature throughout as a kind of avatar for his care and protectiveness – provided, you feel, the nurturing of that poet’s sensibility which has helped her to look back at her parents with compassion and understanding, until finally she can write “I have collected all our tears in a small bottle / and put it on the shelf with the household gods” (The End of a Long Conversation Has Come).

Foley is a mistress of the spare but telling detail which gives immediacy to the places inhabited by this unfolding story. The reluctant forcing down of “cold gobs of cod” and the limping home “in my new stilettos / and sugar starched slip, / creaking like ice” for example have an immediacy that vividly evokes either end of the post-war decade (Milk). The awareness of difference built up by small accretions are suggested by snatches of conversation – “thicker / than water hissed at the tea table / wasn’t a cup of weak tea, / but how you described / who I would never be” (Elephant Aunts).

Foley, like all adopted children, has to resolve the matter of belonging. She asks (and it feels as if she is here addressing both her birth and adoptive mother) “Do you see me now / in my skin, in my own skin, / printed with relics / of a child never yours? //1 will wear your echoes / for company” i Adoption). She concludes that perhaps “Ostermilk was thicker than blood” (Thyrotoxicosis), but leaves us with an acute awareness of the “trembling / possibility of nakedness” (Sometimes I Feel Another Face) and the sense of a search that is ongoing until “one day / if only I can find the right bones” she will find reconciliation with both life and death (The Right Bones).

However, for Foley the reclamation of personhood through love is also possible – exploring the lines of “A very wise poet” who “once said lovers / ‘are each other’s parents’ ” she reaches with great tenderness a place of new resolution “let the roof shelter / nouns into verbs” (Mothers and Fathers).

This is a remarkable collection of poems that should be read by everyone. The Don’t Touch Garden is concerned with many of the specifics about adoption and its aftermath, but contains much wisdom that also applies more generally about self-discovery, making sense of our pasts and moving into a future which can, at least in part, be as we make it.

Joy Howard

More dates for The Dowry Blade readings

Moving into March already.

Meet author Cherry Potts and hear readings from The Dowry Blade, buy a signed copy, and ask questions if you feel so inclined!

Cherry and Julian small

3rd March, 7pm 

Beckenham Bookshop

42 High Street
Beckenham
Kent
BR3 1AY

(near Beckenham Junction)

 

 

 

 

IMG_857024th March 7pm

Gays The Word

66 Marchmont Street
London
WC1N 1AB

(Between Kings Cross and Russell Square Tube stations)

A joint reading with Kate Foley, poetry and fantasy, what a heady mix!

Readings from The Dowry Blade and The Don’t Touch Garden

£3 on the door, but there’s alcohol.

Amsterdam launch of The Don’t Touch Garden

Image

Link here to more photos of the launch in Amsterdam on 10th January

Kate Foley with Tonnie at the Amsterdam launch of The Don't Touch Garden

Kate Foley with wife (and accompanist) Tonnie at the Amsterdam launch of The Don’t Touch Garden

Don’t Touch Garden Launch Photos and audio

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Here’s a gallery of pictures and the audio recording of the performance at the launch.  With Kate Foley reading from The Don’t Touch Garden, and Sarah Lloyd & Ian Kennedy (and the audience occasionally)  accompanying with music and song. We’ll put the Q&A up later, once it’s edited! And the video… out of focus though it is.