-Patricia Fargnoli, author of Winter, Duties of the Spirit, and Then, Something
I love the words and white space of poetry. I love stories even more. In this collection, Laura Foley evokes stories of crystallized moments, of quiet and overpowering emotion, of bathtubs and lemon chicken. The author grows up on the pages, comes of age, and reconciles past with present. Almost. Try to put the book down between poems to savor each experience. Try, but it won't be easy.
-Joni B. Cole, author of Toxic Feedback, Helping Writers Survive and Thrive
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
Foley's voice rings with quiet authority undercut by calamity, examining a life so extraordinary, she seems to have lived several people's lives, setting a high bar for poetic craft she meets, in great mystery perfectly expressed in the tiny, quotidian, "spent matches pressed on wet pavement," to soulful beauty, "as wind lifts/every shining wave"; in wisdom rooted in humor, from the deliciously funny "Flunking Jung," to self-deprecating wit, misreading "poetic" as "pathetic," reminding us wisdom is love, grown from self-compassion.
-April Ossmann, author of Anxious Music
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Night Ringing is an autobiographical collection of 63 poems, both in verse and free-form. The book is divided into five sections, each one dedicated to different parts of the author's life. Part I catalogs her childhood memories: her parents' divorce, a friend's suicide, eavesdropping on strangers, her mother's drinking, her father's abusive manner, life after her parents' divorce, a skiing holiday with her father, horse riding, her mother running over a dog, and her first sexual encounter. Part II focuses on early womanhood: abortion, her elopement and wedding to a Muslim, their meeting and courtship, a friend being convicted of murder, falling in love all over again, her relationship with her father, pregnancy, family vacations, and the death of her sister and father. Part III deals with marriage and parenthood: her marriage to an older man, life on the farm, divorce, starting anew, and online dating. Part IV covers aging: her mother's stroke, the death of her mother, discovering a new love with a woman, seeing a therapist, health problems, and another breakup. Part V is mostly about carrying on: her ambiguous feelings about her breakup, raising a teenage daughter, her son's wedding, and sharing custody. The poems celebrate the themes of family, love, marriage, and parenthood - all the while accompanied by the ever-present dog. They cover such diverse topics as suicide, murder, getting left behind at a rest stop, starting a fire, lapping up maple syrup, observing turtles, grinding coffee beans, homosexuality, erections, shopping, dreams, flunking exams, crying in front of a waitress, feet, floating, and drinking coffee. The titles are a very important part of each poem, e.g., "Leaving Him", in which the title says it all. The author manages to evoke taste, smell, and the changing weather with just a few choice words. My favorite line: "All my life I've been swimming, not drowning, despite any appearance to the contrary." A beautiful concept beautifully rendered. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (30 September): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2016/09/night-ringing-by-laura-foley.html