Moving between cameo portraits to filmic narratives, the opening section Adamantine explores the lives of historical figures ranging from Mohawk writer and performer Tekahionwake and iconic Canadian painter Emily Carr to Anglo-Irish revolutionaries Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz, setting these ghosts in conversation with the memories of lesser-known women including Foyle’s high school friend, the prematurely deceased writer Emily Givner; the mothers and orators of the Falls Road, West Belfast; and Pamela George, a murdered young Aboriginal woman. But the luster of feminist commitment can mask an inner fragility, and the collection takes a personal turn with Grave Goods, a short sequence of poems exploring the mother-daughter relationship, disappointment, and depression. Emotional resolution comes in a surprising form, with a breast cancer diagnosis, and the book’s final moving sequence The Cancer Breakthrough is a tribute not just to Foyle’s own resilience, but the loving power of community.
“This collection is a paradox of be/longing, where lamentation is upturned to celebration. Warrior spirits of women call and dance throughout time. The pain of chemotherapy is buffeted by the love of friends. Foyle’s Canadian childhood spills through her recollections of her travels, from First Peoples’ words to Palestine, London, and beyond. This collection sees our life as it is now, a fragile veil hanging in front of what was lost. Foyle’s Adamantine is a lithographic stone, fixing patterns of brutality, innocence, and pain onto the veil. But there is hope here too, as it shows us the joy of what we can become, if only we have the courage to tear through that thin shroud.”—Fawzia Muradali Kane