Carolyn Forché 1950–
American poet, journalist, and translator.
All of Forché's poetry is marked by its identification with place. Forché brings to her poetry a remarkable candidness which compels her to speak of the beautiful and the ugly. Her simple yet deep feelings and astute observations are skillfully crafted in arresting imagery.
In her first collection, Gathering the Tribes, Forché recounts the learning experiences of her adolescence in her native Michigan and takes up her travels as a young woman in the North American West. Here, as elsewhere, Forché's interest in the speech of diverse peoples is evident. In poems whose language owes much to her study of Tewa (Pueblo Indian), Forché portrays the American Indian as her spiritual parent. She also finds inspiration in the connection between her life experience and the lives of her Slovakian relations. Within this framework she celebrates and studies nature, rituals of innocence, purification, and sexuality.
Forché's second volume of poetry, The Country Between Us, expands the themes presented in the first volume but is also political, being the result of Forché's experiences as a journalist in war-torn El Salvador. Critics note a sense of urgency in this poetry, an artistry aimed at transformation. As Denise Levertov was prompted to say about Forché, "She is creating poems in which there is no seam between personal and political, lyrical and engaged."
(See also Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 5.)