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About this poet

On April 28, 1950, Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit, Michigan. She studied at Michigan State University and earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University.

Forché’s books of poetry include: Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004); The Angel of History (HarperCollins, 1994), which received the Los Angeles Times Book Award; The Country Between Us (HarperCollins, 1982), which received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets; and Gathering the Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976), which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W. W. Norton, 1993) and the coeditor of Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001 (W. W. Norton, 2014).

Among her translations are Mahmoud Darwish's Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems with Munir Akash (University of California Press, 2003), Claribel Alegria’s Flowers from the Volcano (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983), and Robert Desnos's Selected Poetry, with William Kulik, (Ecco Press, 1991).

Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1992, she received the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum.

In 2013, Forché received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, given for distinguished poetic achievement.

She is currently director of the Lannan Center for Poetry and Poetics and holds the Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She lives in Maryland with her husband.


Selected Bibliography

Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004)
The Angel of History (HarperCollins, 1994)
The Country Between Us (HarperCollins, 1982)
Gathering the Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976)

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Sequestered Writing

Carolyn Forché, 1950
Horses were turned loose in the child's sorrow. Black and roan, cantering through snow.
The way light fills the hand with light, November with graves, infancy with white.
White. Given lilacs, lilacs disappear. Then low voices rising in walls.
The way they withdrew from the child's body and spoke as if it were not there.

What ghost comes to the bedside whispering You?
-- With its no one without its I --
A dwarf ghost? A closet of empty clothes?
Ours was a ghost who stole household goods. Nothing anyone would miss.
Supper plates. Apples. Barbed wire behind the house.

At the end of the hall, it sleepwalks into a mirror wearing mother's robe.
A bedsheet lifts from the bed and hovers. Face with no face. Come here.
The bookcase knows, and also the darkness of books. Long passages into,
Endless histories toward, sleeping pages about. Why else toss gloves into a grave?

A language that once sent ravens through firs. The open world from which it came.
Words holding the scent of an asylum fifty years. It is fifty years, then.
The child hears from within: Come here and know, below 
And unbeknownst to us, what these fields had been.

From The Blue Hour by Carolyn Forché. Copyright © 2003 by Carolyn Forché. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

From The Blue Hour by Carolyn Forché. Copyright © 2003 by Carolyn Forché. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, given for distinguished poetic achievement, in 2013.

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