- Hardcover: 96 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060099127
- ISBN-13: 978-0060099121
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,288,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blue Hour: Poems Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 4, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In addition to winning acclaim for her 1994 collection The Angel of History, Forch has been active as an anthologist (Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness) and translator of Georg Trakl, Claribel Alegria and, most recently, Mahmoud Darwish (Unfortunately, It Was Paradise), among others. The title of this fourth collection, her first since Angel, translates the French phrase for pre-dawn light into a state of mind that turns everything into a hypnopompic dream or bardic state. Forch's speaker's memories (of childhood, of nursing her son in Paris) are intermingled with ethereal images of 20th century horror, and dosed with a mysticism derived from Heidegger and Buber. This puts her squarely in the territory of visionary abstraction Michael Palmer and Jorie Graham have been mining; like them, Forch is willing to let the contradictions of this technique speak for themselves. "In the Exclusion Zones," for example, is lovely and mysterious in its brevity, but is revealed in the endnotes to refer to the contaminated earth around Chernobyl. The book's tour de force, "On Earth," orders arrhythmic fragments alphabetically over 47 pages in the manner of "gnostic abecedarians," and foregrounds its lyric complications more concretely: "more ominous than any oblivion/ mortar smoke mistaken for an orchard of flowering pears." The poems' success ultimately rests in the reader's tolerance for gestures aimed at sensuality and sensibility in the face of atrocity, though the 10 or so shorter poems that precede "On Earth" are more modest in their ambitions, arousing and sating the longing for beauty with fewer attendant complications.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The New Yorker
The title poem of Forché's fourth collection takes the birth of her son as a starting point for contemplation of her own childhood, just after the Second World War, an era when "it was not as certain that a child would live to be grown." The uncertainty of an individual's survival at any given point in history informs the first part of this volume, which mounts a quiet protest against the atrocities of the last century and insists that "even the most broken life can be restored to its moments." In such lines, Forché's persona—unflinching witness and eloquent mourner—prevails, but in the centerpiece of the collection, "On Earth," her obsessive documentation of inhumanity overwhelms her best lyric instincts. Forché cleverly chooses the abecedarian form—where the initial letters of the lines form a progress through the alphabet—to portray the agonal flickers of a dying mind, and yet the poem's collage of horrifying imagery feels gratuitous more often than it does inspired.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I recognize all the reasons reviewers are enchanted by this volume, but I rate it as a small misstep by a wonderful poet.
Begin with bread torn from bread, beans given to the hungriest, a carcass of flies.
Take the polished stillness from a locked church, prayer notes left between stones.
Answer them and in your net hoist voices from the troubled hours.
Sleep only when the least among them sleeps, and then only until the birds.
Make the flat-bed truck your time and place. Make the least daily wage your value.
Language will rise then like language from the mouth of a still river. No one's mouth.
Bring night to your imagingings. Bring the darkest passage of your holy book.