Carolyn Forché, 12th Annual ODU Literary Festival


Carolyn Forché

Document Type

Featured Participant

Festival Date



Newport News Room, Webb Center; Mills Godwin Auditorium

Author/Artist Bio

It has been said of Carolyn Forché that "it is impossible to describe how well she reads--spellbinding, fascinating." Her first book, Gathering the Tribes, won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1975, and immediately established her as an important young poet. Between 1978 and 1980, she travelled, documenting human rights conditions in El Salvador; upon her return to this country, she published The Country Between Us, in which many of the poems are the result of her Salvadoran experiences. That book won the Lamont Poetry Award from the Academy of American Poets. It also established her as a spokesperson for what has come to be called "poetry as witness," which is based on her belief that poetry should speak to "the most serious questions of society. Poets must not trivialize human concerns...writers face demands on them to act as voices." Other works include her translation of Flowers from the Volcano, poems by exiled Salvadoran poet Claribel Alegria, 1982, and the text for El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers, 1983. Her translations of The Selected Poems of Robert Desnos will appear later this year. Her essays, book reviews, and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, American Poetry Review, Granta, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Nation, Science ‘85, and others. She teaches at George Mason University, and is currently working on a novel, a collection of prose essays, and a third collection of poetry, The Angel of History.


Carolyn Forché gave a talk at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, October 2, in the Newport News Room of Webb Center.

She also read from her poetry at 8 o'clock that evening in the Mills Godwin Auditorium.


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