Poems by Carolyn Forché

Taking Off My Clothes

The Colonel

The Testimony of Light



Poet, translator, and activist Carolyn Forché burst on the scene with her stunning collection Gathering the Tribes, winner of the 1976 Yale Series of Younger Poets award. Her subsequent volumes received much acclaim as well: in 1982 the Academy of American Poets chose The Country Between Us as their Lamont Selection, and it won the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. Forché calls her latest work, The Angel of History,’s latest book, “the opening of a wound… a gathering of utterances.” The book details the horrors of the 20th century and took 14 years of reflection, and of witness, to compose.

Flowers from the Volcano, published in 1983, is a meticulous and inspired translation of the work of exiled Salvadoran poet Claribel Alegría. Forché has studied Spanish, Russian and Pueblo Indian, with what Stanley Kunitz calls an “avid consumption of languages… listening beyond grammar for the secret texts” so integral to her own work that it seems the earth on which she builds. Her translations include the work of the French surrealist Robert Desnos, as well as Arthur Rimbaud.

A tireless human rights activist, Forché has worked on behalf of Amnesty International, the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, and the International War Crimes Tribunal. This passion also led to her editing a remarkable anthology, Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, and eloquent commentary for the book El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers. She was honored in 1998 with the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award. A recipient of numerous other prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and three N.E.A. fellowships, Forché teaches in the Fine Arts Program at George Mason University.





    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 1998