Jack Foley's Tribute to KPFA 2020

My mind returns always to poetry

Not as a task but as a blessed relief

It is the spontaneous, generous gift, “grace,”

“Free, and totally unexpected, and

Undeserved.” Someone remarked

About Flannery O’Connor’s characters

That they were all seeking grace

But grace, like poetry, cannot be sought

My mind returns to poetry

Not as a task and certainly not as a job

But as a sudden, spontaneous, often surprising

Lifting of consciousness, a blessing surely,

Like the moment when your sins are entirely forgiven

Or the moment when you understand

That the person looking at you

Loves you entirely and without reserve

And would, if it were possible, take on your death.

“Poetry,” wrote W.H. Auden, famously,

“Makes nothing happen,” but I think this is wrong.

Poetry IS the happening, the chance encounter with the angel,

The sudden blessedness.

It announces itself as a “feeling,”

A piece of “music” in the mind

That tells you, “Now is the time.”

It does not transform the world like a program to end unemployment

Or a vaccine that will cure coronavirus,

It transforms YOU–you become a beacon, a light,

The sudden, submissive vehicle of a consciousness

That holds you and forces you, often reluctantly,

To stand unalterably in its shining.

Today is the birthday of KPFA-FM.

It is 71, nine years younger than I,

Though I have been broadcasting on it since 1988.

For more years than most people have been alive

KPFA has honored not only the political,

The transformation of the world,

But the transformation that occurs within the listener,

The transformation that comes with the infusion of words and ideas.

Echoing Cocteau, Jack Spicer said the poet

Was a radio.

The device becomes the person

When your ears are tuned to a channel of endless, eloquent hope.





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