Carolyn Forché is one of America’s most important contemporary poets. Blue Hour is a visionary book, and includes On Earth, a extraordinary long poem, a meditation on human existence and life on earth. Jane Miller called Blue Hour ‘a masterwork for the 21st century’. John Bayley said that reading these poems is ‘an experience as calmly and restfully beautiful as looking at a group of related impressionist canvasses, like those of Monet’.
‘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, modelled on ancient gnostic hymns. Other poems in the book are lyric recoveries of the act of remembering, though the objects of memory seem to us vivid and irretrievable, the rage to summon and cling at once fierce and distracted. The voice we hear in Blue Hour is a voice both very young and very old. It belongs to someone who has seen everything and who strives imperfectly, desperately, to be equal to what she has seen. The hunger to know is matched here by a desire to be new, totally without cynicism, open to the shocks of experience as if perpetually for the first time, though unillusioned, wise beyond any possible taint of a false or assumed innocence’ – Robert Boyers.
'The poignant cri de cœur of this singular work must affect all who have an integrity still possible in this painfully despairing time. Carolyn Forché makes a complex voice for all the mute victims of our destructive world as the killing goes on and the patterns of our lives continue our committed self-destruction. Hers is the heroism which still cares' – Robert Creeley.
‘Part of poetry’s tragic knowledge is that elegy is endless. Yet in its power to recall and to memorialise, elegy also effaces time and reinvests loss, the lost, with life. It is a form of overcoming, essential to our knowing of, and dwelling in, the present and to our becoming human. As Blue Hour demonstrates with such startling range of invention, Carolyn Forché is one of the contemporary masters of that form, that act’ – Michael Palmer.
‘Again Carolyn Forché hovers above the lacerated landscape of history filling the holes “between saying and said”. Blue Hour does not console but emboldens. The fear we share is never dodged. This singular voice is writ in bone, snow, coal, stone and sorrow’ – C.D. Wright.