Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, and has taught at several universities. She was Director of Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, and held the Lannan Visiting Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, where she is now a University Professor. Her many honours include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award, given in 1997 for using her poetry as a ‘means to attain understanding, reconciliation, and peace within communities and between communities’; and most recently, Yale University's Windham-Campbell Prize.
Her first collection, Gathering the Tribes (1976), was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by Stanley Kunitz. Her second book, The Country Between Us (1981; UK reissue from Bloodaxe, 2019), drew on her experiences in El Salvador before and during the civil war, and won the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets. Her later collections have drawn upon work written over many years: The Angel of History (HarperCollins, USA; Bloodaxe Books, 1994), Blue Hour (HarperCollins, USA; Bloodaxe Books, 2003), and In the Lateness of the World (Penguin, USA; Bloodaxe Books, 2020). In the Lateness of the World was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Spring 2020 and a 2021 Pulitzer Finalist in Poetry.
Her landmark anthology, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (Norton, 1993), was followed by Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English: 1500-2001 (Norton, 2014), edited with Duncan Wu. She is Visiting Professor at Newcastle University, and edited the anthology The Mighty Stream: Poems in celebration of Martin Luther King (Bloodaxe Books / Newcastle University, 2017) with Jackie Kay. Her memoir What You Have Heard Is True: a memoir of witness and resistance (2019) was published by Penguin at the same time as Bloodaxe's UK reissue of her 1981 collection The Country Between Us, which covers the same period as the memoir.
Her translations include Mahmoud Darwish's Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems (with Munir Akash, 2003), Claribel Alegría's Flowers from the Volcano (1983), and Robert Desnos's Selected Poetry (with William Kulik, 1991).
Books by Carolyn Forché