Honoring the Particulars

Carolyn Forche's clear, evocative poetry has brought to life diverse, and sometimes brutal, realities of the 20th century. Her first book of poetry, Gathering the Tribes, was the Yale Series of Younger Poets selection for 1976. From 1978 to 1980, Forche worked as a journalist and human rights observer in El Salvador, and many of the poems in her 1981 volume The Country Between Us (which won the prestigious Lamont Prize) reflect this experience. The poems helped raise public awareness of repression in that country and stirred up controversy in the literary world over the relationship between poetry and "politics."

Forche is now working on a book-length poem, "The Angel of History," which she calls "a meditation on the 20th century." She is also editing the forthcoming Against Forgetting: 20th Century Poetry of Witness, an anthology of work by poets who have experienced repression. She is one of six writers -- and the only woman -- who recently received fellowship grants from the Lannan Foundation.

Carolyn Forche lived in Washington, DC with her husband, photographer Harry Mattison, and her son, Sean, and taught creative writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, when this article appeared. Forche was interviewed for Sojourners at her home by Naomi Thiers, a free-lance writer in Washington, DC, who had studied poetry with Carolyn Forche

-- The Editors


An Interview With Carolyn Forche

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