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photo of Michael Foley by Campbell McIlroy
photo: Campbell McIlroy

The Whole Thing, Michael Foley Paperback ISBN 978-1-869848-32-3, 116 pages £10.00 Published 21st April 2023.

Everything is connected. So, to understand anything one must understand everything. And so, when a 69-yearold man decides to comprehend the minutiae of an ordinary day it is necessary for him to understand his life also, which in turn entails understanding the history of the universe, though only from the Big Bang on.

Michael Foley weaves together these three strands in the story of a transformation from youthful despising through mid-life failure to affirming age. The poem draws on history, philosophy, science, quest sagas, the film Shane and much else, addressing the perennial issues of time, mortality, love and the search for meaning, while also refreshing everyday experiences such as making coffee, supermarket shopping and the major adventures of sharpening a pencil and chopping carrots. By turns lyrical, aphoristic, erotic and witty, The Whole Thing drives forward with characteristic energy and exuberance.

'The Whole Thing is the kind of ambitious, rigorous, playful and deeply intelligent and wide-ranging work that publishers hestitate to publish, often finding it hard to think beyond competition length. So it was a real discovery, and I see that it is a rich source of pleasure and stimulation, intellectual, spiritual (a combination of the two) - and the rest, integrated.'

Steve Griffiths

Praise for Michael Foley’s previous books:

‘Michael Foley’s poems marry irresistible narrative with the sort of irreverent exuberance that carries all before it.’

Sarah Crown, The Guardian

‘Pungent, witty, perceptive poems … like Larkin, only sharper, funnier.’

Anthony Cronin, The Irish Times

‘Bright wisdoms … pleasing metaphors … laugh-out-loud funny bits … absurdly readable.’

Phil Hogan, The Observer

‘Inspired by the wild Dionysian spirit of Nietzsche and Rabelais, Foley’s mind fizzes, like potassium on water, across a dizzying array of topics and ideas.’

Tom Startup, The Times Literary Supplement

photo of Michael Foley reading in lamplight

For history, biography and more poetry, see this publisher's other imprint, Campanula Books