Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950 and educated at Michigan State and Bowling Green State universities, Carolyn Forche is a prolific poet and translator. Her victory in the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition with her debut collection 'Gathering the Tribes' signaled the emergence of a great talent, one whose poetic ability was confirmed with the publication of her second collection, 'The Country Between Us'. This collection, which was published with the help of and praised generously by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, explores the current political situation and its historic influences in El Salvador. The civil war that was going on there at the time led some to describe her as a political poet, though Forche herself has said that she prefers the term 'a poet who is politically engaged'. 'The Country Between Us' was awarded the Alice Fay di Castagnola prize, administered by the Poetry Society of America.
If 'The Country Between Us' was evidence of a humanitarian instinct in Forche's poetry, then her later work has proven this to be true. In 1993, she amassed and edited an anthology of writings called 'Against Forgetting', which gave voice to writers who had had to endure personal sacrifice, state interference and political instability in attempting to do their lawful work. She has also translated works by Mahmoud Darwish, the feted Palestinian poet, and Claribel Alegria, a Nicaraguan author.
Returning to religion many times in her work (Forche was brought up in a Roman Catholic family), Forche's poems are sensual and political, humanitarian and literary. An influential voice in America's literary circles, Forche's desire to expose truths and do so through such a unique form as a poetry is commendable.