Choral Poetry – Jack and Adelle Foley

Jack & Adelle Foley

Jack & Adelle Foley

Jack and Adelle Foley are poets from Oakland, California, who performed at the 3rd annual Super Bowl of Poetry at the Northwest SPokenword LAB in Auburn, Washington, in February 2000. It was one of the most intelligent and dynamic performances SPLAB has ever hosted. Jack is a widely published poet, critic, essayist and radio host, and Adelle an economist and writer of haiku. They discussed their early interest in poetry (Jack mentions Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard), their collaboration and their notions of the transcendent properties of poetry, especially in performance. Part 1 (7:55)

In segment two they performed Overture, the first of the choral pieces Jack wrote specifically for performance with Adelle and inspired by Charles Ives, Vachel Lindsay, Antonin Artaud, among others. In the discussion after the performance, Jack quotes Jake Berry who said of their choral work “the reader is seduced into the knowing participation in chaos.” Part 2 (8:19)

In segment three Jack discussed the Current State of Poetry as he sees it; the tension created by uneasy multimedia alliance of poetry’s early roots as a sound medium and the written aspect of poetry and Adelle performed a haiku sequence Bart Bench Haiku. Part 3 (4:59)

In part 4 the discussion centered around an invocation of the ancient Irish Goddess of poetry, Brigid, as part of a workshop facilitated at the old Northwest SPokenword LAB in February 2000.  Part of the practice was creating a space to allow for the expression of oppositions in a peaceful context. Jack also discussed his book Exiles, the notion of poets as exiles and the importance of writers, especially young writers to find a sense of community (polis) in part through culture. Part 4 (11:12)

In the final segment, they performed the conclusion of the poem Chorus/Song, dedicated to Jake Berry, discussed Charles Olson’s Projective Verse, read more haiku (Childhood Summers) and performed a final song. Part 5 (11:54)


About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day.
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