In Adamantine (Red Hen Press, 2019), Naomi Foyle demonstrates again her dazzling formal range, and broadens her stubborn commitment to the truths of female experience.
Deploying visual poetry, free verse, sonnets, the ballad and spoken word rhythms, the book’s opening sequence honours the achievements of outstanding women from Mohawk writer and performer Tekahionwake and Canadian painter Emily Carr to Anglo-Irish revolutionaries Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz; and eulogises unsung heroines including the prematurely deceased writer Emily Givner, the mothers and orators of West Belfast, and Pamela Jean George, a murdered young Aboriginal woman from Foyle’s home province of Saskatchewan. Developing Foyle’s concern with the Middle East, so evident in her acclaimed second collection The World Cup, from troubled reflections on political violence spring tributes to Palestinian and Israeli prisoners of conscience – and to Arabic poetry. Elsewhere, a vividly imagined conversation between Old Testament wives imbues the collection with a deeper historical resonance, while personal pilgrimages lead the reader from chanteuse Nico’s graveyard in Berlin to the crematorium of Grenfell Tower. In its riveting combination of theatrical flair and emotional vulnerability, the book’s final sequence, The Cancer Breakthrough, recalls the imagistic pyrotechnics of Foyle’s PBS Recommended debut collection The Night Pavilion, but also pays homage, not just to the poet’s resilience and relentless creativity, but the power of loving community.
Please contact Naomi directly for review copies.
Praise for Adamantine:
Adamantine, an especially appropriate title, for Naomi Foyle’s collection of unsparing compassions, prepares us for the spirit here, one “incapable of being broken, dissolved, or penetrated” the epigram that prefaces the book tells us. These are poems of a committed intellect, political, well-traveled, resilient. We move through multiple cities, towns, continents — Saskatchewan, Canada, Grenfell Tower, England, Belfast, Palestine, Africa — as idioms and varying registers speak their kinship with departed loved ones, Biblical and pagan deities, the story of “the murdered Aboriginal woman,” the Canadian painter Emily Carr, the young Palestinian activist, Ahed, to name some of the lives that inhabit Foyle’s brilliantly wrought verse. Fierce empathies put a lens on the seemingly inexhaustible ways we have proven our “failure to care for each other,” yet the collection sings the myriad ways our stricken bodies, economies, and corruptions also, still, bind us.
—Adrianne Kalfopoulou, author of A History of Too Much
In this vibrant and wide-ranging collection, Naomi Foyle explores the turmoil of the world and the turmoil of the body. Narrative and lyric poems range from the tragedies and injustices of Grenfell Tower, Palestine and First Nation stories, to experiences of cancer and remission. The poems employ a skillful variety of forms from totem shapes to villanelles, while eavesdropping on and inhabiting the voices and obsessions of the twenty-first century. Always aware of the paradoxes of global politics and the self, Foyle celebrates our will to survive in the face of poverty, war, prejudice and illness. Sometimes reflective, formal and intimate, sometimes as quick-paced and street-wise as a beat poet, Foyle writes with passion, grace and wit. The cumulative effect is of protest but even more of gratitude and compassion, a valuing of what makes us human.
—Stephanie Norgate, author of Hidden River and The Blue Den
This collection sees our life as it is now, a fragile veil hanging in front of what was lost. Foyle’s Adamantine is a lithographic stone, fixing patterns of brutality, innocence, and pain onto the veil. But there is hope here too, as it shows us the joy of what we can become, if only we have the courage to tear through that thin shroud.
—Fawzia Muradali Kane, author of Tantie Diablesse