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   A Lily Lilies -- Poems by Josey Foo, Notes on Dance by Leah Stein
Nightboat Books, Callicoon, NY 2011


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A Lily Lilies
Poems by Josey Foo
Notes on Dance by Leah Stein
Nightboat Books (March 8, 2011) 

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Excerpts from A Lily Lilies

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A cross-genre book of poetry, photography and notes for choreography, A Lily Lilies maps space through language, language through movement, and both space and movement through pictures in sections that move from immense spaces of the American Southwest to a dance stage in Philadelphia to the space of the self.

A young woman climbs to the top of a mound and removes her shoes.  She is mapping the length of the mound.  She is mapping the flint (sun) for whom the mound is a texture in the air.

Mapping the earth

and it is the shape of an ear.


from A Lily Lilies

A dancer's feet and a poet's ear map the earth.   In this very bodily encounter with a landscape and its history, "finalities come to life."

Rosmarie Waldrop

What Josey Foo and Leah Stein have created here is a dramaturg’s delight – poetry and movement on the page, with hints for the stage, and sound poems that may live only in the reader’s mind.  Foo’s poems and Stein’s responses become layered experiences in the synergy between the two artists.  In their introduction they state that “Words and music contain pace and rhythm for movement in both illusionary and physical space.”  Let us now witness the grace of poetic imagery and the elegance of dance in words.  Poetic images and stage images and stage directions and more morph and mingle into a sweet work of art.

—Martha Wade Steketee

Mapping across space/time, cultures and sensibilities A Lily Lilies expresses the interweaving of the poetry of dance and the dance of poetry.  Beautiful work!

—Pauline Oliveros

Sensuous, scrupulous, and keenly aware of the passage of time, Josey Foo’s poems blur the distinction between the tangible and intangible, animate and inanimate. Throughout this remarkable collaboration with Leah Stein, Foo attends to the processes of decline and removal—“blowing on a sound, absence of sound, and, from time to time, absence of regard for sound”—never forgetting that disintegration brings with it “the gift of spaciousness,” allowing memory and imagination critical space for transformation and renewal.

—Arthur Sze 

This book approaches, philosophically, how I want art to work: as conversation. . .  I sit with each piece as if in a landscape. I let this conversation—its gaps, its repetitions, its divergences—surround me. Imagining the dance that might emerge from the unspoken divide between the spare passages is a deeply satisfying act, but it is only one of many ways I am bid to engage. This book reads like an invitation to inhabit the in-between spaces of the world: places where words may have bodies, where a desert ridge is a swell of page, where birds bloom, lilies lily, and dancers are asked to make the sound of stones. The fact that I will never hear exactly what that sound is makes it all the more resonant. I too am folded in.

-- Kirsten Kaschock, Thinking Dance
Tomie's Chair by Josey Foo, Kaya/Muae, New York, NY2002)   


Tomie's Chair
by Josey Foo
Kaya/Muae, New York, NY 2002

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Josey Foo's second book of poetry,  Tomie's Chair, is theatrical in the way a modem art museum is theatrical that is to say, it moves us through surrounding silence, white space, and designed juxtaposition.   Read more.

— Rain Taxi, Vol. 8, No. 3, Fall 2003

I understand why people breathe.

If you had told me to breathe deeply and fill myself with the world, I would have known how to move this chair to the window (I would be beautiful).

If you had told me I were beautiful, I would be moving this chair beyond the sign posts on a half-open road.

[Place is always memory, always somewhere else.]

from Tomie's Chair

Tomie's Chair is a unique book -- imagistic, latently philosophical, whimsical, economical, deep.  I loved reading through the poems.

Edmund White


Josey Foo’s new collection is a provocative and arresting journey into and out of the Place of Confidences, where “each rugged stroke of the chalk” becomes a “defiant act of moving toward a promise of quiet.”

— Arthur Sze


Like Endou, Josey Foo's first book, Tomie's Chair is an indefinable work. More choreography than inscription as though air were the page on which it were written.  As though composed out of doors. The chair is the most specific object in the field; it centers the field, but the chair is light and the center moves. The speaker a mere inference: “That there are a thousand stories to affirm the negative of me and perhaps only one story to reverse it.”  A new work by Josey Foo maintains a beautiful fidelity to the space between objects, beings, words and honors its own immanence with her deft, invisible brush.

— C.D. Wright

Inspired by a mixed-media installation by artist Tomie Arai, Foo's second book continues her explorations of other artistic disciplines and their effect on the boundaries of writing. Her debut, Endou, featured poems and essays, portions of which were included in The Best American Essays 1995, and the Leah Stein Dance Company has choreographed a series of movement dance pieces, titled Imprint, based on Foo's work. A Malaysia native of Chinese extraction who arrived in the U.S. as an undocumented alien, Foo now works as a lawyer-advocate on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. She juxtaposes her own manipulations of chair-images with textual explorations of space, gesture, position and how individuals occupy their own history: "I am getting up.... I am enfolds what happens where unknown place begins. The results of pressed, compact place (constantly changing) tell circumstances of me.// (Rebound or remain in such situations)." Like film developing in reverse, the narrator is slowly defined by the words and places that surround her, while she also shapes that exterior reality with her own body, ultimately creating a subtle yet undeniably compelling history of displacement, loss and love: "The place, made of parts, is aging./ When the door shuts, I believe I am heart/ and soul you came for, after."

— Publisher’s Weekly

   Endou: Poems, Prose and a Little Beagle Story by Josephine Foo
Lost Roads Publishers, Providence, RI  1995


Poems, Prose and a Little Beagle Story
Lost Roads Publishers, Providence, RI 1995

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Endou is a Josey Foo primer, including a quixotic allegory of death featuring the three-legged dog Karl Barx in paper cut-out collages, lyric poems, and prose. Endou is an original dream in words for "fuel, warmth, sustenance." Portions of Endou are included in The Best American Essays 1995.
Waiting for evening to glide over on a pole
Waiting for the bridge to show, hanging by its beads
Waiting for dark to engulf a bird's flight
Waiting for skin, wet under the tap
To have the comfort of linens, stitched with silken threads
Sheerly and wildly
Pulled in by their nets.
                                                                 From Endou 
Josey's poems are a gift to America's poetry. They are a quilt made of the bleached, handmade patterns of migrant transformation.

Russell Leong
Josey's prose, where brownstones are so old you can lay a cheek on a bearing wall and feel the wind, works like the retelling of dreams.

Pacific Reader Fall/Winter 1996


Included in these Anthologies:    
Best American Essays 1995 Fast Fiction Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry  The Nuyorasian Anthology
Best American Essays 1995, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, MA 1996 Fast Fiction: Creating Fiction in Five Minutes by Roberta Allen, Story Press, New York, NY 1997 Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry, Kaya/Muae, New York, NY 1995 Nuyorasian Anthology, AAWW, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA 1999