Abridged 0 – 92: The Violet Hour Submission Call

At the violet hour, when the eyes and back 

Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits

Like a taxi throbbing waiting

What is the city over the mountains

Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air

Falling towers

Jerusalem Athens Alexandria

Vienna London


– T. S. Eliot

I see the final floorshow I see the western dream
I see the faces glow and I see the bodies steam

–  Andrew Eldritch

Violet is the colour at the very edge of what we can see. It fills us up with this sense of precipice, of bending slightly into elsewhere, into afterwards. And at the same time as it fills us, it drains us. Between the end of day and the beginning of night is the violet hour. It is an hour not measurable in minutes, seconds, but only in the bloom and fade of hope and loss, desire and dejection, aspiration and disappointment, elation tinged with fatigue, its own brevity. The violet hour exhausts us. It is our leisure time, the hour that remains desperately empty because there are so many things to do we can’t do anything, so many ways we want to live we’re hardly alive at all. It’s the just-before-but-all-too-late that uncannily repeats on us. It’s the overwhelmingness of transition – between one day and another, life and death, past and future, one era and another. Between the ellipses and the question mark there is a violet margin. Violet is the colour of responsibility turned helpless, thrill swallowed by powerlessness. It is always slightly more blue than red. Violet is the dying light of the world we know, where everything starts to look unreal, when we know what follows could be all too strange or all too familiar.

We know the dark is coming but not what it holds. But violet isn’t a smoulder, and it doesn’t leave any ashes. There is nothing material about violet, nothing organic. Violet – a memory of everything we know about life bursting all at once – is blatantly infertile. It is the light after the war is over, and of its images still mutely flickering on our screens, so far removed. Violet is the colour that ghosts the cinema screen when the film is over and the people sit a moment in silence before starting to get up and leave. Violet is the light around the cities that means they are burning, although the fire might be lit in another part of time. The violet hour is the hour of uncertainty. A blur, a blink, a departure without presence. Excited boredom, bored excitement, failure stitched into belief, ecstatic drive slipped instantly through our fingers into another day gone. Violet is the colour of the word goodnight (goodnight, goodnight) when we don’t really know why we’re saying it. It’s a pattern seen from farther down the road, too late to make it back in time.

The violet hour conjures a brief world in which we don’t know how to say what we mean, the light of which doesn’t fit into our language though it presses us for a response, like thunder. It leaves our mouth dry as dust. Photographers linger here, trying and trying to see, to stop, to stay. In the violet hour we are waiting, expectantly waiting, though we’re suddenly no longer sure what we’re waiting for. The violet hour is a wasteland. And if April is cruel, December is violet.

Abridged is asking you to riff off Eliot’s The Waste Land for this edition. Poetry and/or Art required. We want this issue to articulate a contemporary wasteland. Up to three poems may be send in Word format or similar. Up to four pieces of art may be send at 300dpi or above. Please put your name and a short bio in your email. Otherwise we may think it’s Spam. Send submissions to abridged@ymail.com. The deadline is 15th November 2022.

Image by Rima Maroun.

Abridged is supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.