Poet brings new life to readings


Contributing Writer

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The Tippie Alumni Center hosted writer and poet Carolyn Forché for the first installment of this year’s Single Voice Reading Series.

Forché returned to Allegheny for the first time in 15 years to share her newest pieces for the reading. The series invites authors to share their writing with an audience as the author feels the piece should be heard.

Now an accomplished writer, Forché boasts four books of poetry: The Country Between Us, The Angel of History, Blue Hour, and Gathering the Tribes. She received awards such as the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award for her work.

After studying Forché’s “The Colonel” in her English class, Jennifer Springer commented that she was looking forward to hearing the piece read by the actual author.

“How someone else presents the poem can change the meaning,” said Springer. “It is interesting to see how the author presents it, so it is exciting to hear Forché speak.”

Taylor Sherman, ‘14, was also impressed by the poet’s reading.

“Her poetry really brings out things we don’t know about her,” said Sherman. “Her experience really showed through her voice.”

As a professor at Georgetown University, Forché always tries to find scraps of time to contemplate and write.

“The hardest part of my writing is doing something that is worth someone else’s time to read,” said Forché.

At the reading, Forché read from 10 poems, including “The Colonel,” “The Angel of History,” “Curfew,” “On Earth,” “Visitation,” “Ghost of Heaven,” “Museum of Stones,” “Clouds,” “The Bridge” and “The Lightkeeper.”

After her readings, Forche stayed for a question and answer session. One audience member asked for the definition of a poetry of witness, a phrase Forché used to describe her writing.

“A poetry of witness is not an identity,” Forché explained. “It is a way of approaching a work of a poet that has substantially affected them.”

Another attendant asked about Forché’s often changing poetry.

“Because life is so intense, I always want to learn to grow,” said Forché.

Throughout the remainder of the school year, authors such as Sara McCallum, Matthew Ferrence, Nick Lantz, Andrew Mulvania and Pam Houston visit campus as part of the Single Voice Reading series.