Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets

By Steven Ratiner | Go to book overview

8
—THE POETRY OF WITNESS
Carolyn
Forché

ALL JOURNEYS ARE WISE—when viewed with enough time and distance. Looking back on life's passages, the wrong turns, chance meetings, even dead end streets can assume a place in a clear and purposeful progression. It's in the day-to-day navigation that an individual's inner compass and determination are tested. And for an artist, the sum of those daily choices, both mundane and monumental, leaves an indelible mark on the character of the individual and the content of the creation.

Entering the middle passage of her life, poet Carolyn Forché has received more acclaim and notoriety, witnessed more instances of cold brutality and generosity of spirit than one might expect in several lifetimes. In March of 1994, The Angel of History was published, the first new collection of her work after thirteen years of silence. Shortly before that time, I met with the poet and her husband, the photojournalist Harry Mattison, at their Maryland home. The two-hour interview I'd arranged somehow expanded into an

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Giving Their Word: Conversations with Contemporary Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Giving Their Word *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 9
  • 1 - —Opening the Moment 11
  • 2 - —A Solitary Walk 39
  • 3 - —Poetry and the Common Work 65
  • 4 - —The Toy of Language 75
  • 5 - —The Words Worth Saying 95
  • 6 - —The Work That Makes a Home 109
  • 7 - —New Life in the Barn 129
  • 8 - —The Poetry of Witness 147
  • 9 - —Poetry and the Burden of History 169
  • 10 - —The Communal Voice 183
  • 11 - —A Chorus of Voices 199
  • 12 - —Reclaiming the Word 221
  • 13 - —Without and Within 237
  • Selected Sources 267
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