Forche, Carolyn. THE COUNTRY BETWEEN US. 1981. Harper & Row. USA.

“Your voices sprayed over the walls/ dry to the touch by morning.”

I had not read these fine poems for many years until I was asked recently to read poetry at the memorial for a Salvadorian political leader. One again I was moved by Forche’s spare and graphic lines, her sure control of  her subject matter and her astute awareness of the political evils she portrays with startling images.

The 1880s were a time of cruel and bloody civil war in El Salvador and Forche’s government, the USA, was a major contributor to it, supporting dictatorship and military horror. Her time there gave her the experience and vision to express for us what was happening in other parts of the world. Her poems are timeless and unfortunately still carry meaning and history in the present.

Forche is insistent that voices be heard, that we acknowledge terror and murder, that we hear those who care and suffer. Her poems tell us to be moved to action, to accept culpability, to speak out to injustice. Throughout the world she sees and describes the horror and gives us messages of hope in the midst of darkness, to take our own voice and to refuse silence.

“..knowing that while birds and warmer weather/ are forever movnorth,/ the cries of those who vanish/ might take years to get here.”

Filed under Book Reviews, Carolyn Forche