Carolyn Forche

Thursday, February 11, 2021 at 7:15 PM

"The Poetry of Carolyn Forché" by Bob Stanley


Sacramento Poet Laureate Emeritus Bob Stanley will talk about the work of Carolyn Forché at 7:30 pm PST, February 11, 2021. An analysis of the poet's war poem:

Another poem by the author:

Taking Off My Clothes

I take off my shirt, I show you.
I shaved the hair out under my arms.
I roll up my pants, I scraped off the hair
on my legs with a knife, getting white.
My hair is the color of chopped maples.
My eyes dark as beans cooked in the south.
(Coal fields in the moon on torn-up hills)
Skin polished as a Ming bowl
showing its blood cracks, its age, I have hundreds
of names for the snow, for this, all of them quiet.
In the night I come to you and it seems a shame
to waste my deepest shudders on a wall of a man.
You recognize strangers,
think you lived through destruction.
You can’t explain this night, my face, your memory.

You want to know what I know?
Your own hands are lying.


Bob Stanley is a passionate member of the poetry community and served as Poet Laureate of Sacramento and, for almost 25 years, as the president of the Sacramento Poetry Center. He taughtreative Writing and English at California State University at Sacramento and directs the Reading and Writing Center at CSUS. His poems have won a number of awards, including the California Focus on Writers prize in 2006 and have been published in numerous journals and anthologies.

About Carolyn Forché: In full Carolyn Louise Forché, née Sidlosky, (born April 28, 1950, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.), American poet whose concern for human rights is reflected in her writing, especially in the collection The Country Between Us (1981), which examines events she witnessed in El Salvador. Forché was educated at Michigan State (B.A., 1972) and Bowling Green State (M.F.A., 1975) universities. Thereafter she taught at a number of colleges and universities. Her first collection of poetry, Gathering the Tribes (1976), evokes her childhood, her Slovak ancestry, and reflections on sexuality, family, and race. From 1978 to 1980 Forché was a journalist in El Salvador, where, in addition to her involvement in Amnesty International as a human-rights advocate, she translated works by Salvadoran poets. Her work on behalf of human rights became a major focus of her poetry, much of which depicts the terrible cruelties that were inflicted on children victimized by the war. The later five-part book-length poem The Angel of History (1994) is a compelling distillation of Forché’s intensely moral sensibility. Later poetry collections included Blue Hour (2003) and In the Lateness of the World (2020). Forché also edited several books, including Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993), and translated the poetry of Claribel Alegría. In 2019 she published the autobiography What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance.