Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: WTF: Poems by Laura Foley

The night before his imprisonment,
after a truly Russian feast, 
toasting each course with vodka,
he danced and sang all night.
~ Opening of  "Tientsin, December 1941" from WTF: Poems

WTF: Poems by Laura Foley
Cw Books, 2017
Nonfiction; 34 pgs

Goodreads Summary: 
Laura Foley's "WTF" refers to her father's initials and, slyly, to the abbreviated colloquial exclamation, in a pun that laughs and cuts, in this reckoning with a fraught father-daughter relationship. These spare poems communicate more like snapshots than narrative lyrics, beginning with sympathy and gratitude, moving through disappointment, anger and resentment, without ever losing compassion, as Foley examines her father's formative WWII experiences and, consequently, how he shaped her experience and character, ending with a positive recognition of her father in herself.

A couple years ago, I read Joy Street, a collection of poetry by Laura Foley, and when asked if I wanted to be a part of her WTF: Poems tour, it did not take me long to agree. Especially when I discovered what her new collection of poetry was about. My own relationship with my father was . . . complicated. Like Foley's father, mine was a war veteran, and was greatly impacted by his brief time in Vietnam. Growing up, I wanted so much to understand my dad, what he'd been through, why he was the way he was. He was a difficult and closed man, however, sometimes cruel. 

Many of the poems in WTF affected me quite deeply, bringing tears to my eyes. It is a short collection of poems, poems of her father's experiences during World War II and those of her own childhood or experiences with her father. She writes of her father's experience as a prisoner of war and of his accomplishments, how demanding and hard he was on his first wife and children. I got a real sense of Laura's conflicted feelings about her father. 

I do not consider myself an academic admirer of poetry. Rather, I am attracted to poetry that I am able to connect to and to how it makes me feel. As a result, Foley's style appeals to me, the simplicity and straightforwardness in each of her poems. They are full of her memories and rich in feeling. I could relate to some of what she expressed through her poetry. Feeling like I was not good enough or was found wanting in some way, for example. 

One of her poems that spoke to me was "Hindsight" (pg 21):

I happen after the photo
of my emaciated father
standing on a ship's deck,
dark hair combed neatly to the right.
He's just endured four years of war, 
POW for the Japanese, starved,
One feature commands our attention;
my partner names it, his survivor eyes
just like mine.

"Ghost Street" was another one, beginning with "People speak of wanting to relive a day in their youth, wishing the dead alive." It was the final line of the poem that especially resonated with me. It being my truth too. The final poem, "Family Photograph" is a good way to end, and also one I especially liked and could relate to. It captures a happy moment in her childhood life, one of pride.

Laura Foley is one of those poets whose poetry inspires me to keep writing my own.

To learn more about Laura Foley, and her book, please visit the author's website.

hope you will check out what others have to say about WTF: Poems by Laura Foley on the Poetic Book Tours route:

March 28: The Modern Creative Life (Guest Post)
April 5: Wall-to-Wall Books (Review)
April 12: the bookworm (Review)
April 13: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
April 18: Celticlady’s Reviews (Book Spotlight)
April 25: Soapy Violinist (Review)
May 3: The Modern Creative Life (Guest Post)
May 4: The Book Connection (Interview)
May 11: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)
May 15: Katherine & Books (Review)
May 19: Margie’s Must Reads (Review)
May 24: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
June 1: Readaholic Zone (Review)
June 5: Patricia’s Wisdom (Review)

Many thanks to the Poetic Book Tours and Laura Foley for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour! Thank you also for providing a copy of the book for my honest review.

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I'm no poetry expert either, but this sounds like a powerful book!

  2. This sounds like a very emotional read.

  3. "Hindsight" is interesting. A father who survived a Japanese POW camp must have had a huge influence on Foley's childhood...and beyond.

    1. Jenclair - I imagine so. And from this collection, it is evident it has.

  4. Like you I only tend to enjoy poetry that I connect with, that speaks to me and my goodness does the poem you shared speak to me. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Tracy - You are welcome. I like to think poetry is meant to speak to us on a more emotional level. At least I know it does for me.

  5. I'm really glad that you connected with this one. I think Laura Foley is a great poet.

    1. Serena - Yes, I think so too. Thank you for letting me be a part of the tour!

  6. Sounds like a great collection of poems. Love the play on the title.

    1. Lark - I really like the play on the title too. :-)

  7. I'm not really a fan of poetry but I do like how personal these sound. This may be the exception on my no poetry rule! Thanks for sharing! I think otherwise I would have just dismissed this.

    1. Katherine - I don't read poetry very often, but I enjoy it now and then.

  8. This does sound like a moving collection. I am not usually a fan of poetry but this collection sounds worthwhile.

    1. Carole - I think it is a good collection, I like the poet's style very much.

  9. Wonderful post. I enjoy poetry that I can connect to as well. I found this collection to be moving and heartfelt.
    Enjoy your Sunday :)

    1. Naida - Thank you! I am glad you liked this collection too.

  10. Wonderful review of this collection. The poem you posted here is powerful indeed. I will look for this collection.

    1. Iliana - Thank you. I never quite know what to say when it comes to reviewing poetry.


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