Grief Songs Cover

On June 4th, 2016, poet Jack Foley’s wife, Adelle Foley, who was (as she told her doctor) “never sick,” was diagnosed with stomach cancer; she died on June 27th. They had been married for nearly fifty-five years and were an exceptionally close couple. Adelle was also a poet and, like Jack, had published widely. He wrote about her, “How can there be sunlight and you not in it?”

In the months after her death, with extraordinary courage and directness, Jack opened his heart with a series of poems and letters to his friends, many of whom responded with poems of their own. These documents of intense necessity, brought together, make up the deeply moving collection that is Grief Songs: an expression, certainly, of a year of desperate grief, but more essentially, of a lifetime of love.


What do we do with the dead
And with what the dead left behind
Especially when they left behind so much.
Dead the with do we do what
Behind left dead the what with and
Much so behind left they when especially.

Jack Foley (born 1940) has published thirteen books of poetry, five books of criticism, and Visions and Affiliations, a “chronoencyclopedia” of California poetry from 1940 to 2005.

His radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard on Berkeley station KPFA every Wednesday at 3; his column, Foley’s Books, appears in the online magazine, The Alsop Review.

With his late wife, Adelle, Foley performed his work (often “multivoiced” pieces) frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is continuing to work with others. With poet Clara Hsu, Foley is co-publisher of Poetry Hotel Press.

In 2010 Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and June 5, 2010 was proclaimed “Jack Foley Day” in Berkeley.

pub date: 2017-09-15
$15.00 | 202 pages
isbn: 978-1-944697-48-8 (paperback)
Cover design by Royce M. Becker