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Harry Staley
Harry Staley
May 1, 2002
4:00 p.m.
Reading & Book Launching
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
UAlbany, Uptown Campus

Poet and Professor Emeritus HARRY STALEY, a noted Joyce scholar, taught English at the University at Albany from 1956 until his retirement in 1993 and currently teaches in the Theatre Department. After retirement, Professor Staley published The Lives of a Shell-Shocked Chaplain (1995), a narrative in poetry which follows the life of Charles J. McCaffery from his birth in 1920 to his death in a nursing home in 1987. His new book, All One Breath: Selected Poems, an autobiography which draws from his war experiences, will be published in April 2002 (Snail's Pace Press, ISBN 0-9675273-4-1).

Tom Smith and Harry Staley in Finnegans Wake

In the early Seventies he developed, with his close colleague the late Tom Smith (former Associate Director of the NYS Writers Institute), a concert-reading and subsequent film script composed of passages from Finnegans Wake. There followed another film based on the "Bride-ship and Gulls" episode. These films were shown in Europe and America and were widely used in classroom courses and seminars at several universities.

He has published his poems in Groundswell, The Snail's Pace Review, Psycho-poetry (Hull University, England) Kalamazoo Review, The Little Magazine, and other journals. His early poems appeared in The Pennsylvania Literary Review, The Arizona Quarterly, and Voices.

"All One Breath places Staley's breath-taking first book, The Lives of a Shell-Shocked Chaplain, in the context of a lifetime of careful devotion to the art of poetry. There is no poem in this collection which fails to delight, instruct, move and astonish. It is time for Harry Staley to come out and take his place on center stage. Read him and you will not be disappointed." - Judith E. Johnson, author of The Ice Lizard and Uranium Poems

"While it is tempting to get caught up in the frank passion, the asperity and gall of these poems, Harry Staley disrupts such a reading with a wink and a nudge. A masterwork of persona, All One Breath is actually many breaths: the reconstructed Charles McCaffrey, the retired, laconic Professor Kelly, the lost Uncle Orville and others. At the center is an unstoppable wit and erudition, masked by an exacting, deceptively effortless use of language, of sound and sense. All One Breath is among the few collections of poetry which deserve to be called essential." - Naton Leslie, author of Marconi's Dream and Other Stories

"These are poems of verve and substance. Staley's language astonishes in it range, and in the density of its meaning. This is wonderful poetry." - William Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ironweed and Roscoe

"What a marvelous poetic biography Harry Staley has given us! He follows the life of a chaplain, who comes of age, matures, grows old in wars real and imagined: the Great War that preceded his birth, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam. It is a record of time's most enduring scars on one man's psyche: the world perceived through relentless violence and untimely death, through the myth of Babe Ruth, the Aeneid, the films of Buster Crabbe, through Jesus, a one-eyed priest, an aging nun, who inhabit or surround the raw but polished images of this narrative of memory ('maggots cleanse the battlefield leaving bits of boneshine'). The coherence, the wit, and the power of Staley's first published work are formidable. A virtuoso performance." - William Kennedy