An acclaimed poet and author whose literary style has been described as “radical innovation in changing how literary history could be written” (Monongahela Books), Jack W. Foley commenced his fascination with literature at the age of 15 upon reading a poem by Thomas Gray, an 18th century English poet and scholar. Recognized for his ability to combine performance with his poetic “multi-voiced” pieces, Mr. Foley also drew tremendous inspiration from his late wife, Adelle Joan Foley, who passed away in 2016. His poetry books often leveraged accompanying cassette tapes or CDs on which Mr. Foley and Adelle would perform his pieces. He attended Cornell University and received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1963, followed by a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of California Berkeley in 1965.
Since 1987, Mr. Foley has published more than 15 books of poetry, five books of criticism, one book of collected stories and a two-volume “chronoencyclopedia.” Recently authoring “Grief Songs” in 2016 and “When Sleep Comes: Shillelagh Songs” in 2020, he is set to publish three more books in 2021: “The Light of Evening,” “A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads” and “At Eighty: Creative Death.” Other notable works to his credit have included “Letters/ Light – Words for Adelle” in 1987, “Gershwin” in 1991, “Adrift” in 1993, “Fennel in the Rain” in 2007, which he co-authored with Adelle, and “RIVERRUN” in 2016. His work has been compared to the literary styles of Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and Charles Olson with a post-structuralism flair.
Alongside his work in poetry, Mr. Foley has also excelled as the radio host and personality behind 94.1 KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. An executive producer-in-charge of their poetry program and a literary critic since 1988, he has helped bring poetic light to Berkeley’s community. Previously, he served as editor-in-chief of Poetry USA in Oakland, California, from 1990 to 1995.
Following Adelle’s passing in 2016, Mr. Foley became acquainted with Sangye Land, the daughter of poet Julie Rogers and stepdaughter of poet David Meltzer. Finding love and a performance partner in Sangye, Mr. Foley and she have performed his works together since their meeting.
To attest to his success, Mr. Foley received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Berkeley Poetry Festival in 2010, and he was recognized with a day named in his honor in Berkeley on June 5, 2010. He has further been highlighted in several editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who in the West.