Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Booklist Review of Carolyn Forche's New Book

Carolyn Forche's new anthology of poems about political violence receives a rave from Donna Seaman in Booklist.  Forche visits UAlbany to make two free presentations this coming Thursday.


The 300 poems gathered so astutely in this authoritative and stirring anthology were written by poets of the past whose lives were changed, even destroyed, by war, oppression, imprisonment, torture, slavery, and exile. Poet Forché (Blue Hour, 2003) has long been a champion and practitioner of poetry of conscience, creating the genre-defining Against Forgetting (1993). She now teams up with fellow English professor Wu to excavate the roots of this essential tradition of poetry that confronts “evil and its embodiments” in “appeals for a shared sense of humanity and collective resistance.” The sheer enormity of this “living archive,” an artistic record of five centuries of violence and suffering and protest and truth-telling, illuminates humankind at its most horrific and most glorious. The selections are blazing and haunting, poems of fierce precision, communal consciousness, courage, and reverberating beauty, and Forché and Wu succinctly establish the historical context for each poet’s work in glinting biographical essays. William Blake, John Keats, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson are all seen from fresh vantage points. Here, too, are antislavery poet Lydia Maria Child; Olaudah Equiano, an enslaved Nigerian; Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay; WWII veteran and dissident Karl Shapiro; and conscientious objector William Stafford—“You walk on toward / September, the depot, the dark, the light, the dark.”

More about Forche's visit:  http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/archives/forche_carolyn14.html