Carolyn Forche

Carolyn Forché

The Poetry of Witness Now

Festival of Ideas/
Thu 23 May 2019

Carolyn Forché

The Poetry of Witness Now

Carolyn Forche
Thu 23 May 2019,

American poet, teacher and human rights activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. She coined the term “poetry of witness” to identify poets who have witnessed war, imprisonment, torture and slavery. She now tells the remarkable story of when, at the age of 27, a mysterious stranger called Leonel from El Salvador appeared on her doorstep. She followed him to El Salvador and became enmeshed in the early stages of a brutal civil conflict which ultimately saw the Salvadoran state turn paramilitary death squads against its own people, and leave nearly 90,000 dead or disappeared.

Her memoir, What You Have Heard Is True, is the devastating true story of a young woman’s choice to engage with horror in order to help others, of an unlikely friendship which changed the course of her life, and of a remarkable man’s doomed effort to save his people from disaster. Forché talks about poetry and politics and the responsibility to bear witness, and reads from her work.

In association with the Bristol Poetry Institute, University of Bristol.

Image credit: Don J Usner

 

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