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Blue Hour

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  353 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
"Blue Hour is an elusive book, because it is ever in pursuit of what the German poet Novalis called 'the [lost] presence beyond appearance.' The longest poem, 'On Earth,' is a transcription of mind passing from life into death, in the form of an abecedary, modeled on ancient gnostic hymns. Other poems in the book, especially 'Nocturne' and 'Blue Hour,' are lyric recoveries ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 16th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published March 4th 2003)
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from the quarry of souls they come into being
supernal lights, concealed light, that which has no end

that which thought cannot attain
the going-forth, the as yet cannot be heard

—as a flame is linked to its burning coal
to know not only what is, but the other of what is
Kirsten Kinnell
Unbelievably stunning.
Candy Burkett
Mar 07, 2014 Candy Burkett rated it really liked it
Ethereal Travel into the Blue Hour

A dying body appears keenly aware of its soul tugging free and submerging into the space that is held for souls escaping the living and transitioning into the spiritual realm. The poems in Carolyn Forché’s book, Blue Hour, are guided by a female narrator, who passes in and out of consciousness during her recollections of memories and reality. Forché’s poetry reveals the narrator’s ability to examine the past, to exist in the present, and to foresee the future. I
Jan 11, 2013 Mcatania21 rated it really liked it
Blue Hour’s “On Earth” uses abecedarian to organize random moments in time. Each line acts as a snip-its of life observations. While abecedarians were traditionally used “for sacred compositions, such as prayers, hymns, and psalms,” this poem acts as an antithesis to religion. It questions God’s motives. While each line contains its own distinct thought, the poem is held together by the repetition of a letter or phrase in the beginning of each line. The first abecedarian set starts with “a” obse ...more
Jeremy Allan
Nov 22, 2010 Jeremy Allan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The difficulty of giving a book a rating goes without saying, but Forché's Blue Hour presents an extra challenge; the volume only collects 11 poems, including a 47-page abecedarium. How to rate a book with any precision when of it are dedicated to a single piece? I doubt there is a way.

All the same I enjoyed this book and want to rate it well. I think it finds Forché returning to a more lyric sensibility than in the volumes immediately before it, and I think her political project benefits from
Jul 10, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Saw Forche read at the UND writer's conference. I first read Forche poetry in high school so she's been around a long time although she's only published four volumes.

The centerpiece of this book is a 42 page alphabet-indexed poem imitiating Gnostic abecedarian hymns. It's a poem of snippets, tiny moment, little images.

Here are a few of my favorites, which pulled from the overall work seem to form a little poem of their own:
as any backward look is fictive...born with a map of calamity in her p
Laurel L. Perez
Apr 21, 2014 Laurel L. Perez rated it really liked it
This collection was not at all what I thought it might be, it was better in many ways. The first few poems were lovely, and I found myself ruminating over lines here & there that were especially provocative. However, what really takes the cake is the 47 page poem "On Earth" which sounds like an environmental diatribe, but oh no no, it is not. It is a close look at humanity. The hymn quality and the alphabetical stringencies of the form make this poem even more fantastic and epic in proportio ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Kat rated it liked it
Another one of those books that makes me worry that I don't actually like poetry. Forché gives me a line or three per page that really strike me, but I would have to work harder than I apparently want to in order to understand what she is talking about beyond the fact that she has known someone(s?) who died. She plays with the boundary between comprehensible description of reality and abstract imagery, and her transitions between the two are so frequent and seamless that I find it pretty hard to ...more
Dec 26, 2010 Nicola rated it it was amazing
This book is unlike anything I've ever read. The 45-page, gnostic-abcederian "On Earth" is haunting and masterful. This is a list at its best and most forceful. As certain motifs and words reappeared, a tension arose for me between witnessing and repeating. Such recording, of course, is essential, but devastating. Certain of Forche's lines helped me read her: “a random life caught in a net of purpose” (16); “as any new act inflicts its repetition” (32); “as the fence has recorded the wind” (33); ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Mirinda rated it really liked it
An insightful, unflinching, mystical, sensual, repetitive, tenacious, and alphabetized litany of meditations on the hour before dawn, when the mind is said to apprehend the "radiance of its true nature." A stenography of collective unconscious. Lots of good quotations, too, referenced in the end notes.
Jan 14, 2008 Myron rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: err-body
Recommended to Myron by: the academy of american poets
How does one approach death? the same way one approaches life, I guess. Question after Question to see that what isn't is. I recommend Carolyn Forche's BLUE HOUR to anyone who has lost anything, who has seen or felt the spirit of the deceased or another world. This book of poetry is other-worldly and human with suffering. And the Abecedarian "On Earth" is to die for; pun intended;)
Nov 25, 2009 Julie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of poetry
Shelves: poetry
I really liked this book of poetry by Carolyn Forche. I found it at my local library and it contains the poems and writings Carolyn was working on when she passed.

I found some of the poems had almost a mystical quality to them, hauntingly sad & melodic.

This was my first book of poetry I have read by Carolyn Forche - I will probably try to get more books by her in the future.

Nov 30, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The form of this book blows my mind. Very imagistic, complicated, and above all, accomplished... Forche has quickly become one of my favorite poets since I started writing poetry seriously. "The Country Between Us" is incredible, but this one offers something equally inspiring on a completely different level.
May 05, 2011 Travis rated it it was amazing
5 stars full and brimming over. cannot say enough about it. too good to say anything really. i am in awe. this is perhaps best poetry i have read in my entire life. and she is an amazing woman. i will say no more.
Jan 16, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The long poem "On Earth" is luscious and amazing. Worth the whole book and more.
Feb 09, 2010 Stacy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, poetry
I love Carolyn Forche. She is a wonderful poet. This book is another example of her talent.
Apr 12, 2009 Kristin rated it really liked it
Seems very like Dickinson, subdued, yet also Whitmanesque--especially the long poem "On Earth." Fabulous book.
Oct 30, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2015
as a flame is linked to its burning coal
Cindy Huyser
Sep 07, 2010 Cindy Huyser rated it it was amazing
What a great book of poetry. "The Earth" alone is stunning. Well worth the reader's time.
Jul 23, 2014 Brittany rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Favorites: "Sequestered Writing"; "On Earth"
Jan 09, 2008 Celeste rated it really liked it
Longer prose poems than in the COUNTRY BETWEEN US. Enjoying the change in poetic structure. Her voice is edgy, image-specific, no "poetiky" gunk. Good voice.
Jun 02, 2017 Greta rated it really liked it
A blue daybook hidden in my bed with his name
a branch weighted with pears
a hotel haunted by a wedding dress
a little hotel in the city with its windows open
a little invention for sweeping crumbs from the table
a locket’s parted lovers face to face
a man repainting his wooden house in stopped time
a man vanishing while he danced
after having gone all the way to the end
after his internment and before his suicide
again and again
against a sea of recriminations
against a winter pine, ea
Gabriel Clarke
May 30, 2017 Gabriel Clarke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
First of all, it's the language, limpid, visionary, fluidly moving between sorrow, beauty, horror and fragments of remembered joy. Then there's the compassion and clarity of the long 'abecedarian hymn', On Earth. A book that seeks to mediate the unknowable moment between life and death and a true treasure house of images.
Rachelle Smith
Nov 22, 2010 Rachelle Smith rated it liked it
Ghosts, windows, gauze and more all all symbols to explain the Blue Hour. I have my own theory even though she states her own but I believe there is more than that. It is a sad, realistic and haunting for a lack of a better word, book. It makes me kind of sad but I appreciate it because it has the ability to stir an emotion in me. It is well written and you must decipher her meaning but to the point of interest and not frustration. Its a puzzle you would like to complete and are able to figure o ...more
Mar 26, 2016 metaphor rated it liked it
You see, one can live without having survived.

A viola, night-voiced, calls into its past but nothing comes.

A woman alone rows across the lake. Her life is intact, but
what she thought could never be taken has been taken.
An iron bridge railing one moment its shadow the next.

It is n’y voir que du bleu, it is blind to something.

Even the most broken life can be restored to its moments.
Apr 17, 2009 Satia rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I couldn't finish this collection of poetry because I am too plebian to appreciate what Forche is doing. I know the appreciation of poetry can be highly subjective. After trying to read a collection like this, I inevitably start questioning my ability as a writer and find myself uninspired and unable to write.
Sep 28, 2007 Andrea rated it liked it
Now THIS is a strange book. I love Forche (as many of you know already) so I've read this book a million times, but I still don't get. And sometimes the 1,000 line poem loses my interest. So if you can explain what's going on to me, I would REALLY appreciate it :)
Oct 15, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"we are so made that nothing contents us"

"Bring night to your imaginings. Bring the darkest passage of your holy book."

And that final abecedarian. It is something else, truly. I like what she thinks poetry can do.
Dec 25, 2012 Elle rated it liked it
She tackles political oppression and motherhood in this volume, writing on the Holocaust and France's relationship with its pertinent history.
Megan RFA
Sep 29, 2008 Megan RFA rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
There were some beautiful poems in this book, but she lost me with the ten pages of alphabetized lines. I found it a bit of a cop out.
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Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1950. She studied at Michigan State University and earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University. Forché is the author of four books of poetry: Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004); The Angel of History (1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us (1982), which received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di C ...more
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