Carolyn Forché

carolynforcheCarolyn Forché is the current director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. She is the author of four books of poetry: Gathering The Tribes, which received the Yale Younger Poets Award, The Country Between Us, chosen as the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets, The Angel of History, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and Blue Hour, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She compiled and edited Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness (1993). She has been a human rights activist for thirty years.


The Testimony Of Light

Our life is a fire dampened, or a fire shut up in stone.
–Jacob Boehme, De Incarnatione Verbi

Outside everything visible and invisible a blazing maple.
Daybreak: a seam at the curve of the world. The trousered legs of the women shimmered.
They held their arms in front of them like ghosts.

The coal bones of the house clinked in a kimono of smoke.
An attention hovered over the dream where the world had been.

For if Hiroshima in the morning, after the bomb has fallen,
is like a dream, one must ask whose dream it is. {1}

Must understand how not to speak would carry it with us.
With bones put into rice bowls.
While the baby crawled over its dead mother seeking milk.

Muga-muchu {2}: without self, without center. Thrown up in the sky by a wind.

The way back is lost, the one obsession.
The worst is over.
The worst is yet to come.

1–…is the question asked by Peter Schwenger in Letter Bomb.
Nuclear Holocaust and the Exploding Word.
2–…is from Robert Jay Lifton’s Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima.


Literacy, Literature and Democracy | April 7, 2010
Writing (and Working) Beyond Genocide: Literary, Cultural and Social Activisms in a Changing Africa


CRY HAVOC! Poetry of War and Remembrance 1968-2008 | March 31, 2009
SYMPOSIUM III: War and Remembrance: Surviving with Language and Memory


CRY HAVOC! Poetry of War and Remembrance 1968-2008 | March 31, 2009
Reading: War and Remembrance: Poetry of War and Memory, 1968- 2008


Reading | November 11, 2008


Reading with Nicole Brossard and Joan Retallack | February 15, 2000


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