Carolyn Forché Reviews & Interviews
Carolyn Forché’s 1981 collection The Country Between Us bears witness to what she saw in El Salvador in the late 1970s, when she travelled around a country erupting into civil war. Documenting killings and other brutal human rights abuses, while working alongside Archbishop Oscar Romero’s church group, she found in her poetry the only possible way to come to terms with what she was experiencing first-hand. Briefly available in Britain from Jonathan Cape in the 1980s, the collection was reissued by Bloodaxe in March 2019 to coincide with the publication of Carolyn Forché’s long-awaited memoir of those times, What You Have Heard Is True: a memoir of witness and resistance (Penguin UK & USA).
Times Literary Supplement, Friday 9 August 2019
The reissue of Carolyn Forché’s 1981 collection The Country Between Us was reviewed alongside her memoir What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance in a full-page feature in the TLS of 9 August.
‘Her collection of poems The Country Between Us (1981) has been reissued to accompany the memoir. It was a bestseller at a time when many Americans were increasingly aware and ashamed of US-sponsored brutality in its “backyard”. It’s fascinating to see how the two works qualify and complement each other across the intervening decades.’ – Lorna Scott Fox, Times Literary Supplement
Click here to read (available in full by subscription).
Morning Star, Wednesday 5 June 2019
The reissue of Carolyn Forché’s 1981 collection The Country Between Us was reviewed by Andy Croft in his 21st century poetry column in the Morning Star of 5 June 2019, illustrated online and in print with a colour photo of Carolyn Forché.
‘The problem of ‘translating’ the untranslatable into poetry is at the heart of Carolyn Forche’s The Country Between Us... The book was first published in 1981, when Forche returned to the US from El Salvador, where she had been working as a journalist. It is back in print to coincide with the publication of her memoir of those times, What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance. It is a book about imperialism, genocide and atrocity (“There is nothing one man will not do to another”). Nearly 40 years later, the poems still possess a shocking power, especially The Colonel, Expatriate and Return…’ - Andy Croft, Morning Star
Click here to read the full review.
Free Thinking, BBC Radio 3, Thursday 16 May 2019, 10pm
Carolyn Forché was a guest on Radio 3’s Free Thinking on 16 May. She was talking about her time in El Salvador in the late 1970s, the subject of both her recently reissued 1981 poetry collection The Country Between Us and of her newly-published memoir from Penguin, What You Have Heard Is True.
‘Carolyn Forché's Memoir is called What You Have Heard is True. A man who might be a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, drives from El Salvador to invite the 27-year-old Forché to visit and learn about his country and she decides to say yes.’
Carolyn Forché is interviewed from 31.50. She speaks about ‘the poetry of witness’ near the end of the interview.
Click here to listen.
POEM FEATURE FROM THE COUNTRY BETWEEN US
Bookanista, online 15 April 2019
Carolyn Forché’s poems ‘The Colonel’ and ‘The Visitor’ from The Country Between Us were featured on Bookanista on 15 April 2019,
Click here to read the feature. Includes a link to a film of Carolyn reading the two poems.
Poor Rude Lines, online 10 April 2019
A feature review of both The Country Between Us and Carolyn Forché’s new memoir from Penguin, What You Have Heard Is True was posted by John Field on his blog on 10 April 2019. ‘Bloodaxe’s reprinting of this collection is truly timely.’
‘That Forché’s poems have not dated a day is a tragic indictment of humanity’s endless capacity to make the same mistakes and to commit the same crimes. However, they also demonstrate poetry’s power to bear witness and to play its part in speaking truth to power. Reading Forché’s memoir, it is clear that, like Romero, she took mortal risks to see what needed to be seen, and to write what needed to be written. Like the best priests, the greatest poets are living a vocation.’ – John Field, Poor Rude Lines
Click here to read this full feature review.
WOMAN'S HOUR INTERVIEW WITH CAROLYN FORCHE
Carolyn Forché was interviewed on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in 2014. She was talking to Jenni Murray about her experience of war, breast cancer and the poetry of witness. Carolyn introduced, then read, her poem ‘The Colonel’.
Click here to listen.
[14 August 2019]