The Angel of History, Forché has been active as an anthologist (Against Forget"/>

BLUE HOUR

Carolyn Forche, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-06-009912-1

In addition to winning acclaim for her 1994 collection The Angel of History, Forché 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; Forecasts, Nov. 25), 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. Forché'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, Forché 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. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 03/01/2003
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Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0075-2
Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-06-200423-9
Paperback - 73 pages - 978-0-06-009913-8
Hardcover - 80 pages - 978-1-85224-618-1
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