Carolyn Forché
Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché's first poetry collection, Gathering The Tribes, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award from the Yale University Press. In 1977, she traveled to Spain to translate the work of Salvadoran-exiled poet Claribel Alegría, and upon her return, received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which enabled her to travel to El Salvador, where she worked as a human rights advocate.

Her second book, The Country Between Us, received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was also the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets. Her translation of Alegria's work, Flowers From The Volcano, was published in 1983, and that same year, Writers and Readers Cooperative published El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers, for which she wrote the text. In 1991, her translations of The Selected Poetry of Robert Desnos, with William Kulik, was published. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Esquire, Mother Jones, and others. Forché has held three fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1992 received a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship.


Her anthology, Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, was published in 1993, and in 1994, her third book of poetry, The Angel of History, was chosen for The Los Angeles Times Book Award. In 1998 in Stockholm, she was given the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award, in recognition of her work on behalf of human rights and the preservation of memory and culture. In April of 2000, a new book of her translations of Claribel Alegría, Sorrow, was published. Her fourth book of poems, Blue Hour, was published in 2003. She also co-translated Selected Poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.

Carolyn Forché, poet, editor, translator, and activist, teaches in the M.F.A. Program in Poetry at George Mason University in Virginia, and lives in Maryland with her husband, Harry Mattison and their son, Sean-Christophe. Born in Detroit, she graduated with a B.A. in 1972 from Justin Morrill College, a residential college at MSU devoted to the liberal arts.

"The voice we hear in Blue Hour is a voice both very young and very old. It belongs to someone who has seen everything and who strives imperfectly, desperately, to be equal to what she has seen. The hunger to know is matched here by a desire to be new, totally without cynicism, open to the shocks of experience as if perpetually for the first time, though unillusioned, wise beyond any possible taint of a false or assumed innocence." -Robert Boyers

To view Special Collections' holdings of Forché's work, please click here.

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Last Updated: January 19, 2010