Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

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Jack Foley interviews Clive Matson, who is the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Berkeley Poetry Festival (May 5). Matson is a fixture of the Bay Area, a longtime poet and teacher who has influenced many. Matson’s books include the instructional Let the Crazy Child Write! Finding Your Creative Writing Voice (1998) as well as poetry books Space Age (1969), Heroin (1972), On the Inside (1982), Equal in Desire (1983), Hourglass (1987), Squish Boots (2002), Chalcedony’s Songs (2007, 2009), and the early Mainline to the Heart (1966, reissued 2009). About the latter Jack writes, “This book is not likely to persuade anyone to become an addict: it is hardly a pretty picture. But Mainline to the Heart is an enormously powerful evocation of a state of mind most people barely know exists. It is no accident that William Burroughs, another heroin addict, produced science fiction. To inject heroin is to inject a kind of science fiction of consciousness. Matson’s immensely disturbed hero tries to go about a ‘normal’ life while fully aware that ‘We are all insane.’ Robert Duncan called this book ‘butch.’ It’s that, but it’s also what Baudelaire called ‘la conscience dans le Mal,’ not consciousness of evil but consciousness in evil. ‘From the Abyss comes / a message that spells out our shape on Earth.’ ‘I / open to the darkness my home.’ ‘I see no exit / away from the Horror, / why not embrace it.’”

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