THE BLUEING HOURS moves from darkness to light – the reader moves from passion to doubt to the struggle to survive intact – in a brilliantly structured book which carries the reader to dawn. This isn’t surprising for here is a poet who does not want to trade Earth for Heaven or Hell. Al is betting everything that the objects of this world – flawed or not – are charged with meaning that we humans need more than some elusive transformation into perfection.
The Blueing Hours is simply – and I make no apology for what sounds like hyperbole but is truth – the first 21st century book of poems that offers a portrait of heterosexual masculinity. Talk about risks: Al’s poems are tender (as a father to his sons), stark (as a son to a father), and unblinking (three generations of men sharing intellectual space in the city of Chicago). Al rejects facile romanticism or the forgiveness that nostalgia offers. He is in a blinking contest with a city of contradictions: one that showcases class differences, ethnicity vs. a larger citizenry, myopia vs. the exaggerated skyline of bragging skyscrapers.
It’s a book launched by the extension of the night: jazz clubs, neons, poetry readings, bar noises. He takes his readers from the red hours, the black hours that we writers know too well, to the blueing hours. Here is a poet who does not have to re-invent the color wheel, but rather use it to keep the world from the false dictionary of black and white.
Al has always been a poet, I suspect, but now he can point at his writing as evidence of his long journeys within himself. He is a generous poet for, like the many visionaries of Chicago (including Carl Sandburg and Gwendolyn Brooks), his insights are our insights. He makes us wealthy in a currency about soul, life, passion. One word at a time, one heartbreak at a time, one rescue at a time. Albert DeGenova. The Blueing Hours. Virtual Artists Collective, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9798825-3-1.
reviewed by Rane Arroyo, University of Toledo, 2008-08-20