Carolyn Forché Reviews & Interviews for In the Lateness of the World

Carolyn Forché Reviews & Interviews for In the Lateness of the World

'Forché’s almost incantatory way with image produces a strange tone, spell-bound but also emotionally charged, in which time and place shift and blur'. - Fiona Sampson, The Guardian

American poet Carolyn Forché published her much-anticipted fifth collection In the Lateness of the World on 10 March 2020.  The book is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Spring 2020.

'In the Lateness of the World, her fifth book of poems after a hiatus of seventeen years, meditates on questions of witness, displacement and war. Through poems touching on the refugee crisis, genocide, nationalist strongmen and climate emergency, Forché paints a bleak but accurate picture of the West's supposed postwar prosperity. Throughout this new collection, she turns her inimical, at times prophetic, eye onto a still new and unstable century.' - Sandeep Parmar, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2020


Carolyn read two poems from In the Lateness of the World for Poetry from the Backroom's #plaugeopoems series. 

'The vision and range of her poems is vast - encompassing history, geography and philosophy - but it’s her language and lyrical skill I love, at times majestic, at times surprising but nearly always sublime. Have I called anyone in this series a Great Poet? I do think Carolyn is one of the greatest living writers in English.' - Hugh McMillan, Poems from the Backroom

Click here to see the videos and to read more about Carolyn Forché.



The Verb, BBC Radio 3, Friday 3 July 2020, 10pm

‘Poet of witness’ Carolyn Forché was a virtual guest on a special edition of Radio 3’s The Verb celebrating the spirit of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. From her home in Washington DC she was talking to host Ian McMillan, and also to Sandeep Parmar, with whom she would have been in conversation at Ledbury, had this year’s physical festival gone ahead. Ian McMillan introduced Carolyn as the ‘brilliant American interrogator of our rusting and violent times’.

Carolyn read poems from her ‘greatly anticipated’ new collection In the Lateness of the World: ‘The Boatman’, ‘Museum of Stones’ and the final poem ‘What Comes’. 

‘This week we celebrate the spirit of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. One of the best-loved events in the UK poetry calendar, the festival has been, like many events, sadly cancelled this year. Ian McMillan is joined by Sandeep Parmar of the Ledbury Festival Board and just a few of the poets who would have appeared at the 2020 event, Carolyn Forché, Kaveh Akbar and Juana Adcock.’

Kaveh Akbar spoke at length about Carolyn, and the example she has set for others with her poetry of witness, saying ‘Carolyn is a loadstar for so many of us.’

Carolyn appears at 10.25, Kaveh Akbar speaks about her at 32:09, and then she read her final poem at 42:22.

A much smaller digital Ledbury Poetry Festival took place over the weekend of 4-5 July, but Carolyn did not take part in this.



Carolyn Forché’s fifth collection In the Lateness of the World was reviewed in the December/January double issue of Literary Review. Read the full review here.

'The American activist and poet Carolyn Forche's In the Lateness of the World has a global scope and a revelatory quality, as if she is writing from the end times....Forché’s style is meditative and mystical: this is a poet who lingers and puts pressure on language.' - Tom Williams, Literary Review


A feature review of  In the Lateness of the World and Carolyn Forché's memoir What You Have Heard is True (Penguin Random House, 2019) ran in Ireland's Sunday Independent of 26 April 2020. 

'In these troubled times, poetry like Carolyn Forche's can lend insight, but it can also salve and elegise the present moment. Auden once wrote that poetry makes nothing happen, but in Forche's work, her life-long commitment to poetry and the poetic utterance, we see how poetry can transform. Both What You Have Heard Is True and In the Lateness of the World are essential reading not only for anyone interested in poetry, but in the world we live in.' - Dr Paul Perry, Sunday Independent

Read the full review here.

Bloodaxe reissued Carolyn Forche's 1981 collection The Country Between Us to accompany the publication of her memoir in March 2019.  The first line of her poem 'The Colonel' gave the title to the memoir.


In the Lateness of the World was reviewed alongside Jane Hirshfield's Ledger in The Guardian's best recent poetry feature of 4 April 2020.  Fiona Sampson’s original opening, sadly cut by The Guardian, read:

‘Poetry’s claim has always been that it can encompass both terror and joy, accompanying us even through the worst of times. So it’s a consolation to find the verse being published right now does measure up to the times we find ourselves in.’ 

Read the full review here.


'...a compelling call to action. Forché invites us to witness with her this vision of the past and future of the world, a world of art and poetry, but also burned and ruined by conflict, a ‘grotto of skeletons’. She challenges us to go out into this world, not dispassionately but emotionally engaged, and change it' - Kai Durkin, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts) on In the Lateness of the World.  Read the full review here.


‘Forché is so sensitive to the breadth and complexity of what she writes about that she refuses to diminish it by offering a single token example or a glib and flashy description or a too-easy simplified analysis… this is a collection in which something rewarding will strike you afresh at each re-reading.’ - Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, London Grip

Read the full review here.



Carolyn Forché was in conversation with Grace Cavalieri for the Library of Congress series The Poet and the Poem 2020-21. She read from her memoir, and from In the Lateness of the World (from 26:55).

Click here to listen to this half-hour interview.


Carolyn reads and introduces her poem 'The Boatman' from In the Lateness of the World on the Poetry Foundation's website here.

An in-depth feature on Carolyn Forche is in The New Yorker of 6 April 2020 here.



Videos of Carolyn's digital events at Cúirt International Festival of Literature in April 2020 and Newcastle's Inside Writing festival in June 2020 have been posted on our events page here.

[24 April 2020]

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