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Monday 3 October 2016

ℚ Night Ringing - Laura Foley

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Night Ringing (, Headmistress Press, 108 pages), a Poetry collection.

"Plain-spoken and spare, Laura Foley’s poems in Night Ringing trace a life story through a series of brief scenes: separate, intense moments of perception, in which the speaker’s focus is arrested, when a moment opens to reveal a glimpse of the larger whole. Memories of a powerful, enigmatic father, a loving but elusive mother, a much older husband, thread Foley’s stories of childhood, marriage and motherhood, finally yielding to the pressure of her attention, as she constructs a series of escapes from family expectations, and moves toward a new life. In these lucid, intense poems, Foley’s quiet gaze, her concentration, and emotional accuracy of detail, render this collection real as rain."—Cynthia Huntington, author of Heavenly Bodies

Synopsis | Author Poetry Reading Event | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Laura Foley; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Night Ringing?

"Writing is a daily practice me, inspired by whatever is happening to me then. A way to process through experience. After about two years I usually have about a hundred or more poems; at that point I look them over to see what “the arc” is, what story have I been telling; and from that, comes the book, after I’ve chosen about seventy or eighty of the best poems."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"The book is entirely autobiographical."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this collection?
"I’m always surprised to find “the arc,” the changes and revelations that the book demonstrates; to see the maturing process of the author, myself."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Night Ringing - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The cover of Night Ringing is a photo of forked lightning, over a mountain, illuminating a broad river. It speaks to the idea of the book and the title poem, the phone call one receives in the middle of the night, the “hard to assimilate” news: a mother has had a stroke, a younger sibling has died suddenly from an aneurysm, a parent has had a heart attack. The phone ringing, and we are startled awake.

The news is like lightning breaking through the night sky, carving a human shape across the darkness. It rips us open, rips us apart, and is the reality of our existence; we are always perched on the edge of death, our own or our loved ones. It is a terrible truth, and inescapable. And the image is also beautiful. There is that contrast, the terror and the beauty.

I took this photograph myself, from the porch of my house overlooking the Connecticut River. I wrote most of the poems in Night Ringing while living at that house, the river a constant source of inspiration. For these reasons the photo seemed appropriate for a cover, and my publisher (Mary Meriam of Headmistress Press) was enthusiastic. After poetry, photography is for me a compelling source of creative expression."
Why should we read Night Ringing and what sets it apart from the rest?
"My writing is uniquely clear and understandable. You will be taken on a journey through an interesting life, and you will find bits of yourself reflected; you will come to know yourself more fully."
Can you tell us something quirky about Night Ringing, its story and characters?
"The dedication and epigram. I explain how I wrote certain words in my journal that predicted my future partner. A moment of serendipity."
Who would you recommend Night Ringing to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend this book to anyone who would like a good read. Its clarity will startle you and bring you in."
What do you like to write and read about? 
"I like to write about real things happening around me; I like to observe the everyday miracles of life."
What is your writing process?
"I don’t always write when I’m feeling strong emotion. Sometimes I write myself into feeling; this is true especially for memory poems. I return in my mind to a childhood scene, for example.

This can happen whenever I give myself the space and time to contemplate the past; I usually need to leave home and sit alone in a coffee shop. I will read poems, either by classic poets or more contemporary ones, until I feel prompted to respond with my own words/story. Or, I will sit outside, and enter consciously into the present moment, noticing whatever is happening around me in nature, the sounds of birds, water passing under a bridge, clouds passing over head, a season changing. A meditative experience."
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer/poet?
"It’s frustrating when my book comes out and it isn’t a best seller. I recently wrote a poem in which my mother, in heaven, buys my books. :-)"
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
"Criticism arrives in the stream of “rejections” or “returns” I receive, and all poets receive.

The best compliment has been by Garrison Keillor, who read my poem “Gratitude List” on A Prairie Home Companion and on The Writer’s Almanac. [Follow the links to listen to the shows and to read the poem. BC]

Another recent compliment was in an email from a listener who had heard the poem in New Zealand, and asked permission to translate my work into Braille, and to distribute it among hospitals in NZ."
What is in store next?
"I have finished a new manuscript of poems, called “It’s This.” It continues the adventure and understanding of my life, in poems."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I live with my partner and our three big dogs, two German Shepherds and one Yellow Lab."
Fantastic picture - thank you for sharing it with us! They are gorgeous :-) And they do feature in your photo art ;-)

Night Ringing
Available NOW!

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