On Thursday May 2, students, faculty and parents gathered to hear Colgate alumnus Adonal Foyle share his poetry. After growing up in the Caribbean, he was adopted by Professors Joan and Jay Mandle and attended Colgate University.
It was at Colgate where he took a creative nonfiction class in his first semester and wrote about basketball for many of his assignments. Despite having a hectic schedule and traveling to various countries for basketball, Foyle stayed on top of his work and turned in assignments on time. In the Spring of 1997, Foyle was drafted as the eighth pick in the first round. Foyle feared that by leaving college early, he would be considered a hypocrite. However, the idea of playing on a court amongst the world’s best players motivated him. He went on to play professionally as a power forward for the Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic. Adonal is currently the Vice President for the NBA players association. He has founded two non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), one of which is called Democracy Matters, in addition to having a masters degree in sports psychology.
For Foyle, poetry is a way that he can share his voice now that he is no longer playing basketball. His poems include politics, relationships, life in the NBA and his childhood in the Caribbean. Foyle feels eternally grateful to Professor Balakian from the English department for liberating his voice as a student.
At the event, Foyle read one of his sonnets called “Island Witch,” where he shared the importance of storytelling in the Caribbean. Foyle reflected on how it was always his grandmother’s job to tell stories in his family, as she enjoyed “scaring the grandkids” to get them to fall asleep. He read another poem titled “Dry Season,” which was inspired by his grandmother’s stories. In this poem he talked about the challenge of the seamlessness of culture and space. His poem “Beneath the Waving Flag” was written during the buildup towards the Iraq war. The poem ended with the line “beneath the waving flag I cannot breathe.”
Foyle shared that his most defining moments at Colgate were when he was able to discover some kind of truth. He believed that society and the world was getting away from seeking truth and that his poetry has been a direct response to that. He said that the great thing about growing up in Hamilton and going to Colgate was all of the amazing professors and people he got to meet while he was here. Foyle shared a poem called “Airball,” where he talked about his experience as a basketball player. He compared sports to being in a glass coffin observed by 20,000 people and talked about how hard it was to find a way to quiet his soul in the midst of all of that was going on. Foyle ended his presentation by sharing how special it is to have a place like Colgate where people can gather and share their life experiences. He thanked everyone for giving him the opportunity to share his words with an audience because poetry has meant so much to him. Poetry allowed Foyle to say goodbye to the game that he loved and a game that changed his life and also gave him a purpose.