The Blue Hour
Wisconsin Poetry Series
Ronald Wallace, Series Editor
Winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry, selected by Denise Duhamel
“Like a banked fire stoked into a blaze, The Blue Hour contains the power to warm you up and burn you down. I am enthralled by the stunning grace
of Jennifer Whitaker’s vision. A spectacular debut.”
Fairy tales both familiar and obscure create a threshold, and The Blue Hour pulls us over it. With precise language and rich detail, these poems unflinchingly
create an eerie world marked by abuse, asking readers not just to bear witness but to try to understand how we make meaning in the face of the meaningless violence.
Every night begins with my wish
as I’m gowned in fog on the lawn:
Man in the moon, be a prince—strike a match.
Burn out the stars in their dumb minuet.
Forget the clock; let it drone what it may.
I’ll stare until everyone shatters like glass.
—excerpt from “Cinderella as Wish That Comes True,” © The Board of
Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.
“Whitaker’s debut collection wrenchingly captures an abusive parent-child relationship in a hardscrabble, desolate environment where, for instance, feral kittens fight off flies. . . . And though what follows is hard-bitten and relentless, with the sure knowledge that every twinkling gift has its price, Whitaker writes with a richness and variety that offers sustained reading throughout.”
“The Blue Hour casts a blue spell, using the tropes and gestures of traditional fairy tales—riddles, disguises, wishes, shape-shifting, entrapment, escape, and transformation—to trace a daughter’s experience
of incestuous abuse. With language as sonically and somatically intricate as the subject she narrates, Whitaker looks unflinchingly at an ancient taboo and the infinite hour of its endurance.”
—Lisa Russ Spaar, author of Vanitas, Rough
“Whitaker’s skills with sentence and sound, with spare yet suggestive
language, with telling juxtapositions, with metaphor and misdirection,
make the unbearable bearable just long enough that it can be seen,
contained, and transcended. These are riveting poems, hard won, from
a poet of exceptional talent.”
—Jim Peterson, author of Original Face
“Chronicles a daughter in danger, a
girl trapped in the dark underbelly
of fairy tales. Predators—fathers,
wolves, witches and their ghosts—drag us into the dark forest of
sadism with no prince or woodsman
in sight. Whitaker is a fearless poet
whose subject is fear.”
Duhamel, Brittingham Prize judge
Of Related Interest
LC: 2015036820 PS
72 pp. 6 x 9