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Book Title

Human Hours

Author 1
Catherine Barnett
Poem Excerpt
Look at these books: hope.
Look at this face: hope.
When I was young I studied with Richard Rorty, that was lucky,
I stared out the window and couldn't understand a word he said,
he drew a long flat line after the C he gave me,
the class was called Metaphysics and Epistemology,
that's eleven syllables, that’s
hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope hope.
—from “O Esperanza!”
Catherine Barnett's tragicomic third collection, Human Hours, shuttles between a Whitmanian embrace of others and a kind of rapacious solitude. Barnett speaks from the middle of hope and confusion, carrying philosophy into the everyday. Watching a son become a young man, a father become a restless beloved shell, and a country betray its democratic ideals, the speakers try to make sense of such departures. Four lyric essays investigate the essential urge and appeal of questions that are “accursed,” that are limited—and unanswered—by answers. What are we to do with the endangered human hours that remain to us? Across the leaps and swerves of this collection, the fevered mind tries to slow—or at least measure—time with quiet bravura: by counting a lover’s breaths; by remembering a father’s space-age watch; by envisioning the apocalyptic future while bedding down on a hard, cold floor, head resting on a dictionary. Human Hours pulses with the absurd, with humor that accompanies the precariousness of the human condition. 

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6.5 x 9
The triumphant follow-up collection to The Game of Boxes, winner of the James Laughlin Award

About the Author

Catherine  Barnett
Credit: Credit: Farah Al Qasimi and Res
Catherine Barnett is the author of four poetry collections, including Solutions for the Problem of Bodies in Space, Human Hours, winner of the Believer Book Award, and The Game of Boxes, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in New York City.
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  • “A fast-paced but unflappable tour of hotels, airports, college drop-offs, gynecologists’ offices and the cafes of Lower Manhattan. . . . The moments of stillness in Human Hours are equally compelling.”The New York Times Book Review
  • “[Human Hours] brim[s] with emotional intelligence.”The New York Times Style Magazine
  • “Barnett’s marvelous third collection is populated by devastatingly wry (and wryly devastating) poems about aging, time, and the existential predicaments—violence, trauma, consciousness itself. . . . Iconoclastic and penetrating, the speaker of these poems unsettles and enlivens.”Vulture
  • “[Human Hours] unspools in a conversational, free-associative idiom. . . . Even in our darkest hours, the poems insist, company and comedy are never far away.”—
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