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Dark Hours

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“At this historical moment when the issue of how to respond to suffering is so fraught as to leave us speechless, the poems of Conchitina Cruz have found a way to speak. Here in this starkly beautiful volume, she has discovered a language sufficient to the terrors and the joys of the contemporary. The highest praise that can be given to any work of literature—and Dark Hours is most surely literature—is that it is contemporary. This is a very remarkable book.”—Lynn Emanuel

68 pages

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Conchitina R. Cruz

9 books52 followers
Conchitina R. Cruz is Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines Diliman. She received her PhD in English from State University of New York (SUNY) Albany.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
Profile Image for che.
110 reviews377 followers
May 7, 2023
such precise language! each word deliberately plucked and delicately placed against each other, like puzzle pieces all fitting into place to create a beautiful mosaic of poetry and prose. obsessed.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
August 29, 2016
Aklat #29: DARK HOURS by Conchitina Cruz
(Youth & Beauty Brigade, 2014)

This edition is for the 10th year anniversary of this book. When this was first published by the University of the Philippines Press in 2005, this won the National Book Award the following year.

Truly an enjoyable read. Each poem, each line was masterfully crafted. Then at the end of each page is a message that talks to the reader. That leaves a question to the reader. That for a few moments, obliges the reader to pause and think. Very clever writing. I read this before going to bed last night and I thought I would not be able to sleep. Now I am typing this review to make sure that I would still be able to include a couple of other books for the #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy, an annual contest sponsored by Edgar Calabia Samar, whose run this year will end tomorrow, 31st of August 2016. My point: this rushed up review may not do justice to how beautiful this book really is.

Since I read physical books and they are all mine, when I read, I dogear the pages where there is something that I liked. This book has 67 pages and I dogeared 50 pages of them! This one, entitled "Alunsina takes s walk in the rain," has the biggest dogear. I will just include some lines from the poem:
"Today, the news tells me you are scheduled to be lonely. I part my curtains and look up.

Later, when the roads turn slippery with your sadness, I will put on my shoes, soak myself in your tears. It is difficult not to miss you when the evening sky is speechless, when your silence travels down my cheeks, like a request.

I cannot forgive you. That day, if you had not refused, I would have given you a present. I would have carved my love in stone."
Thank you, Ma'am Chingbee for this wonderful wonderful book. I will definitely look for your other works!


Profile Image for Shin.
223 reviews9 followers
June 19, 2022
#DarkHours is so charismatic and much loved by arthoes across Cubao that you don't realize how emo the title is anymore. it almost sounds like a 2007 MCR song doesn't it. anyway.

most pieces in this book explore the relationship between the woman as an individual and the city surrounding her. if nature poetry deals with trees and birds and rivers, here we have recurring images of taxis, concrete roads, street vendors.

desperation is a lump stuck in the speaker's throat: an urgent desire to leave, but no escape is ever suggested. the new cover art fits the approach to the texts. many of them are mere peeks at windows into the struggles of the narrator. the pictures are incomplete, not in the sense that they aren't crafted into well-defined shapes, but that a lot is made ambiguous. the reader has to complete the scenario based on clues strewn across the pages.

to me Dark Hours almost feel like a noir novel or one of those detective shows where the victim can't fully recall what happened, if that makes sense.

i enjoy this very much in terms of its rereadability. much like the tired cities of Manila, there are always alleys and building floors here you haven't discovered yet, or haven't discovered you yet.
Profile Image for justin.
99 reviews1 follower
July 10, 2021
Nothing too long, but I love Dark Hours so much. It had happened to be raining, and I wanted to read these in one sitting.

Eli recommended me Chingbee, and the girl I like has been quoting her in her playlist titles and descriptions (one I didn’t recognize was Chingbee’s until a few months after, (...) may I cop a feel? may I corporeal? caught me off-guard the most), and I was hooked. I wrote a book review for elsewhere held and lingered for class, because that one had send me to the moon, a poem Eli and I love the most, and I wanted to review something that wasn’t speculative fiction for once. I’ve read bits and pieces from Dark Hours, even memorized some of them by heart ( It is difficult to miss you in the summer, your name written all over the clear night sky [...] ), but today I finally sat down and read through all of them. I like this less than elsewhere and There is no emergency , but it tickles the inherent feeling of longing someone feels during a downpour.

Ludwig—my writing confidant, whom I entrust my half-baked and usually bad poems with—has always been calling me out on my Chingbee-esque poetics. You sound just like her, which might be an indication of my derivativeness and lack of personal artistic voice, but sometimes I lean on it as being a compliment. He meant it as such. Sometimes you read a writer’s oeuvre so excessively it carves a trace on everything you make. I’m still trying to loosen myself from it, but I have also found solace in writing my poems that way (all poems are private and unpublished and incredibly self-indulgent, just little notes and letters I let Licca and Ludwig and Eli read, because I barely use social media and the only I way I can update the people who genuinely care about me is through a text—or through literature. I let them take their pick).

Dark Hours was a collection I should have picked up years ago, when I was seventeen. Licca and I, in one trip to UST, when I was enrolling in the accountancy program and she in Legal Management, days before her UP results came and she withdrew her spot in the college instantly, we were trading descriptions about the boys we liked at the time. It took her a few months to give me an answer—probably October or November, he makes me feel like when I’ve come home from Baguio and I smell the Downey used on my bed. I’ve always attributed the boy I liked as someone who looks like city lights in Manila during the night. Those have dimmed now, but reading Dark Hours keeps powering them back up, like a relentless generator. Chingbee has such a good eye for yearning and the conflicting love for everything cosmopolitan. Almost always, whether it be a good or a bad thing for my health, I come back to her and reread her works. For a collection about going to one place to another constantly, it will always feel like home to me.

Some favorite poems, in no particular order:
Dear City: in you, rain is a visitor with nowhere to go. Where is the ground the knows only the love of water? Where are the passageways to your heart?
Alunsina takes a walk in the rain: Today, the news tells me you are scheduled to be lonely. I part my curtains and look up.
News of the train: Once, I saw you on the other side of the tracks. But it was too late—the train had come, erasing you in one swift motion.
Ashfall: It was rain resisting temper, attempting tenderness. It was rain that wasn’t rain at all, it was snow, snow without the cold, without the sting in the air, the ache, the chill, snow out of place, out of date, out of season.
Profile Image for Ivan Labayne.
322 reviews19 followers
January 24, 2016
Too many "sweet misundertandings" too maybe between me the reader and the texts I'm reading, but it's fine. They are sweet, and misunderstandings are not always unproductive
Profile Image for rina.
202 reviews27 followers
April 17, 2022
I cannot forgive you. That day, if you had not refused, I would have given you a present. I would have carved my love in stone.
Profile Image for Miguel.
141 reviews5 followers
April 7, 2022
“And who are you to ask for more, who are you to insist on hunger?”

I remember roaming the streets of Ermita at 3 a.m., waiting for our friend to drive us home. We waited at this hotel front and there were drunks near the Lawson store.

I also remember commuting from Sampaloc to home. Every tired night in the LRT then catching the evening rush jeepney.

And I remember the city getting dark, the comfort, the anonymity. That’s what I miss the most.

In between editing my thesis, I was picking this up. I kept going back and reading from the start. I don’t know if I was too far gone, but each time it felt like I was reading a new thing and the poems were shuffling themselves. Anyway, I miss being out at night is my great insight from this.
Profile Image for Oscar.
Author 8 books20 followers
December 12, 2008
The city is alive and terrible in this collection of prose and footnote poems. Cruz balances the role between citizen and chronicler with poems that bounce from the disdainful to the uneasy but, in their asking, leave the reader (fellow citizen?) with an opportunity to process their own emotions/experiences of living in the city.
Profile Image for John.
192 reviews26 followers
May 24, 2022
Reread: May 21, 2022 (4⭐)

Cruz opened this collection of poems with a letter addressed to the city—the one she was also writing about. In it, she blamed the city for corrupting something beautiful—a blessing from God—into something deplorable. “The only explanation is you, dear city. This is the end of our discussion. There is no other culprit.”

And what followed were a collection of stories of mundane and urban people who nursed their own sadnesses and nostalgia, while living elbow to elbow in this wretched city. All these poems are written in Cruz's clear and transparent lyricism, which cradled the emotions set beneath the words.

Alunsina takes a walk in the rain remains a top favorite during this reread. While Disappear (“If I keep still enough inside this shadow, it is as if I am not here. If I keep still enough, there is no proof you are not here with me.”) and the first The Gist of It (“Despite the lost time, you have found it, and this in itself is a happy ending.”) became two new favorites from this collection.

First-time Read: January 5, 2020 (5⭐)

The poems here can get confusing at times because Conchitina Cruz shifted perspective/POV in between verses, but the vast sadness enveloping her words, like a fog cocooning a city at dawn, is palpable.

You can feel the longing for someone who once lived in the city, but was now gone and the alienation the narrator feels to continue living in the same place they once shared.

My favorite from this is Alunsina takes a walk in the rain: “Later, when the roads turn slippery with your sadness, I will put on my shoes, soak myself in your tears. It is difficult not to miss you when the evening sky is speechless, when you silence travels down my cheeks, like a request.”

This is a stunning and nostalgic collection of poems.
Profile Image for Aloysiusi Lionel.
84 reviews5 followers
October 13, 2018
This is so far the most captivating collection of poems I've read from a Filipino writer! Reading and enjoying each of the poems is like watching films such as "Her", "The Tree Of Life" and "Synecdoche, New York" over and over again until you find uncountable interpretations, until you find what each film says a lot "about" you. Conchitina Chingbee Cruz has given us a book that testified to the relentlessness of language's quest for oneness, by giving us an image of a city where watersheds, picnics, neighborhoods and train stations are metaphors to a life demanding to be lived imperfectly but in fullness. "I filled my palms with fake bruises", said in "Monument". But every reading act is one step closer to the truth and to truthfulness, as the poet succeeded in her attempt of gathering bits and pieces of a lost city, of an imagined possibility, of an alternative pathos, to provoke us from our complacency and wishful thinking. I look forward to more poems from this brave and intelligent poet who as a songstress proved that cosmopolitan speech could sound more idyllic than ever, who as a sage moved me to think of how the ordinariness of domesticity could launch me into many acts of contemplation, and who as a worshipper opened her palms and invited me to open mine so anything that would come my way I can outgrow and transcend from. In "Autobiography", she wrote: "Who can blame you for falling in love with a word?" My unsolicited reply would be, I have fallen in love with every word and with every verse, that would be enough.
Profile Image for maia.
91 reviews
June 9, 2022
Had to read this as a school requirement and wow??? (Also I just love how my major really urges me to discover and read works written by local authors!)

Cruz’s writing is so so good! If you’re going to read this, don’t expect a casual read for two reasons:
1) It tackles topics that are a little too serious to grasp in one reading; and
2) The writing was heavily literary (proses and poems) that it requires analysis.

Anyway, I loved this so much, but the thing that holds me back from giving this complete 5-stars is because it’s not something you’ll take for casual reading. It was a little challenging to read (but very satisfactory once you understand it!)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
146 reviews14 followers
March 3, 2016
Thoughts : I loved reading this. The city she wrote about was dark and lonely. I greatly enjoyed the style of prose. I also felt very nostalgic while reading this.
Profile Image for Gae.
91 reviews7 followers
December 25, 2022
picked this book blindly as I was drawn by the cover. Dark Hours is a collection of prose and footnote poetry by Conchitina Cruz. This book shows the mundanity of living in the city as well as the charm and emptiness it brings. This collection resonated with me because majority of my career life is in Metro Manila with which I, once a young college graduate from the province, considered this city as the land of milk and honey. Little did I know that the city was all about thriving with bits of fun here and there.

My favorite poems from this collection are:
🌃 Move your hand over your body
🌃 Smile
🌃 Tremble
🌃 Geography Lesson (second)
🌃 Now and at the hour
🌃 Insomnia
🌃 You there,
🌃 It has come to this (second)
🌃 Notes on the recurring dream

Wow! It looks like I have listed them all.

The collection has some poems with the same title such as Geography Lesson, and It has come to this (which the second poem of each given title are both my favorite) but have different content. My interpretation is that a fraction of the population in the city live the same lives, treading the same path, but marked with nuances.
Profile Image for Floreen Keech.
89 reviews45 followers
May 12, 2021
Rating: 2.5 stars

I read this book because one of my best friend is obsessed with her and I just want to know why and just take a glimpse of what really goes into her brain.

I really liked this but I’m having a hard time understanding poetry as I grew older (sad). I don’t know maybe I have to be in the right head space to understand this. The poems depicted loneliness and I guess longing. These are beautiful poems but I wish I felt it more if you know.

Maybe I’ll just ask her to talk me through each poems.
Profile Image for Majoy Grefaldo.
3 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2022
Clear, crisp, and cutting, Chingbee Cruz’s words were shards of broken glass that tore through me with medical precision. Inadvertently, it returned to me a reflection of my wandering muse, now on a lyre, sitting at the tip of revelation. If I am ever bruised for life – I am only ever delightfully so.

In lieu of flowers, kindly place beside my epitaph a collection of poetry that breathed to me life and thus categorically includes the following: Dear City, Alunsina takes a walk in the rain, Elegy, and Disappear.
Profile Image for Lé Baltar.
18 reviews
April 17, 2023
Rereading this for some comfort. Found a new favorite, of course aside from “Dear City” and “Alunsina takes a walk in the rain; ” It’s “The Gist of It,” which reminds me of Pat Schneider’s “The Patience of Ordinary Things.”

Loved the poem’s ending in particular: “Think of the table in your time of darkness: on your knees with tears in your eyes, searching for the familiar face, digging with your bare hands into the rubble.”
10 reviews
November 6, 2018
"until the busy street no longer needs its presence to look the same, because it is the same. "
The city painted by Chingbee Cruz in this book is indeed dark and lonely. Time and again, it shows a familiar face only to wander off in the crowd until we lose the glimpse of their slightest shadows--their hair, or the obnoxiously orange shirt they decided to wear that day.
Great read!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Amrie.
26 reviews
January 15, 2022
read excerpts during college. now that i've read it in full (years after graduation), it reads more like remorse this time. a left-leaning filipino poet who writes in english at comfortable parts of the city often churns out something along the lines of "i too suffer. but isn't it some brand of selfishness to linger on my troubles when i'm surrounded by worse?"
Profile Image for el.
15 reviews
December 10, 2022
"Somewhere, maybe a phone will ring, maybe someone will put her hand on your shoulder and tell you the news you’ve been waiting for, but that is another life."

there's a kind of serenity in reading dark hours. the way she writes a poem is all new to me. the narrative is prosaic but nonetheless poetic, bracing.
Profile Image for Ti.
85 reviews21 followers
April 21, 2019
beautiful, beautiful anthology i read for my poetry class! read it yesterday and annotated, will reread about two more times before i start writing the paper on it! so excited and so happy that i chose this book to review. filipino poets are truly treasures
Profile Image for Jenina.
81 reviews14 followers
December 14, 2019
I have not read anyone that depicts urban solitude, isolation, and loneliness as beautiful and nostalgic as the works of prose and poems in this tiny book. I will keep coming back to the passages in the pages I folded. They feel like coming home.
Profile Image for Pat.
51 reviews23 followers
February 14, 2021
What a beautiful collection! You're supposed to read this quietly and calmly but I couldn't help but scream "this is so good!" or "omg, ang ganda!" (I kid you not, my brother can vouch for it, lol) almost every time I flip to the next page. 👏🏼
Profile Image for Erika.
80 reviews4 followers
October 17, 2020
The loneliness and decay of the city is presented with nostalgia and graceful beauty. It felt simultaneously detached and familiar, warm and cold. A perfect read for rainy days
Profile Image for Armi.
38 reviews
March 21, 2022
noir for sad english majors. i love it. probably because i love desperation and sadness. i am attracted to it like a moth to a flame.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews

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