Dansende Digtersfees. Carolyn Forché (VSA)



Die Dansende Digtersfees / Dancing in Other Words, is ‘n internasionale fees van digters en digkuns wat op Vrydag 10 en Saterdag 11 Mei 2013 op Spier, buite Stellenbosch, gaan plaasvind. As ‘n gesamentlike projek tussen Spier en die Pirogue Kollektief, is die Dansende Digtersfees die eerste beliggaming van ‘n vennootskap met die bedoeling om verder vorentoe soortgelyke ruimtes van skepping en verbeelding te bevorder en te fasiliteer, hetsy literêr, maatskaplik, of polities van aard. 



Carolyn Forché (1950) word allerweë beskou as een van die VSA se vernaamste digters en het as sulks al verskeie van die belangriker pryse met haar bundels verower. Hieronder is daar onder andere eretoekennings deur sowel die Guggenheim as die Lannan Foundations. Ook nog ‘n toekenning deur die National Endowment for the Arts en in 1992 het die International Poetry Forum die Charity Randall Citation aan haar toegeken. Tans is sy Hoofdirekteur van die Lannan Center for Poetry and Poetics en beklee sy ook die Lannan Leerstoel vir poësie by die Georgetown Universiteit in Washington, D.C.

Publikasies uit haar pen, is ondermeer Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004); The Angel of History (1994), waarvoor sy met die Los Angeles Times Book Award vereer is; The Country Between Us (1982), wat bekroon was met die Poetry Society of America’s se Alice Fay di Castagnola-toekenning en Gathering the Tribes (1976), Verder was sy die redakteur vir die bloemlesing Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993). Haar werk as vertaler behels die volgende: Mahmoud Darwish se Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems (saam met Munir Akash, 2003), Claribel Alegria se Flowers from the Volcano (1983), en Robert Desnos se  Selected Poetry (saam met William Kulik, 1991).

Volgens die oorsigartikel by The Poem Hunter word Carolyn Forché dikwels as ‘n “politieke” digter tipeer; iets wat volgens hulle ‘n mistasting is: “Though Forché is sometimes described as a political poet, she considers herself a poet who is politically engaged. After first acquiring both fame and notoriety for her second volume of poems, The Country Between Us, she pointed out that this reputation rested on a limited number of poems describing what she personally had experienced in El Salvador during the Salvadoran Civil War. Her aesthetic is more one of rendered experience and at times of mysticism rather than one of ideology or agitprop […]F orché is also influenced by her Slovak family background, particularly the life story of her grandmother, an immigrant whose family included a woman resistance fighter imprisoned during the Nazi occupation of former Czechoslovakia. Forché was raised Roman Catholic and religious themes are frequent in her work. “

Bundels van haar wat tydens die fees te koop sal wees, is die volgende:

Blue Hour (2004: Harper Perenennial)

The Angel of History (1995: Harper Perennial)

Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993: WW Norton & Co.)

The Country Between us (1982: Harper Perennial)

As leestoegif volg een van haar beroemdste gedigte, “The Colonel”, met as leestoegif “Sequestered Writing”. (Terloops, op die webblad van Poem Hunter is nog etlike ander gedigte van haar wat geniet kan word.)


The Colonel

What you have heard is true. I was in his house.
His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His
daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the
night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol
on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on
its black cord over the house. On the television
was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles
were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his
hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings
like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of
lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes,
salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed
the country. There was a brief commercial in
Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk of how difficult it had become to govern.
The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel
told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the
table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to
bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on
the table. They were like dried peach halves. There
is no other way to say this. He took one of them in
his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a
water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of
fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone,
tell your people they can go f— themselves. He
swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held
the last of his wine in the air. Something for your
poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor
caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on
the floor were pressed to the ground.

( C) Carolyn Forché


Sequestered Writing


Horses were turned loose in the child’s sorrow. Black and roan, cantering through snow.

The way light fills the hand with light, November with graves, infancy with white.

White. Given lilacs, lilacs disappear. Then low voices rising in walls.

The way they withdrew from the child’s body and spoke as if it were not there.


What ghost comes to the bedside whispering You?

— With its no one without its I —

A dwarf ghost? A closet of empty clothes?

Ours was a ghost who stole household goods. Nothing anyone would miss.

Supper plates. Apples. Barbed wire behind the house.


At the end of the hall, it sleepwalks into a mirror wearing mother’s robe.

A bedsheet lifts from the bed and hovers. Face with no face. Come here.

The bookcase knows, and also the darkness of books. Long passages into,

Endless histories toward, sleeping pages about. Why else toss gloves into a grave?


A language that once sent ravens through firs. The open world from which it came.

Words holding the scent of an asylum fifty years. It is fifty years, then.

The child hears from within: Come here and know, below

And unbeknownst to us, what these fields had been.


(c) Carolyn Forché


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3 Kommentare op “Dansende Digtersfees. Carolyn Forché (VSA)”

  1. Francis :

    Baie dankie vir die interessante toeligting oor die deelnemers aan die Dansende Digtersfees.

  2. Marlise :

    Het pas Forché se Blue Hour gelees en wat ‘n ongelooflike ervaring – veral die baie lang en vernuftige gedig On Earth daarin. Wat ook interessant is van hierdie gedig is hoe sy die alfabet deurgaans ingespan het waarmee sy die verskillende strofes se reëls begin. Bv.

    black fingernails, blue hands, lost hair
    black storms of dream
    black with burnt-up meaning…
    bones smoothed by water
    book of smoke, black soup…


    garbage fires along the picket lines
    gasoline coupons and rations, an event no longer remote
    Georg leaning against the winter pine eating a sparrow
    ghost hands appearing in the windows, rubbing them clear
    ghost swift, grisaille, guardian spirit


    here is no absence that cannot be replaced
    there is no reason for the world
    there was black corn in the fields, crib smoke, and bones enough to fill the sack
    there was no when there
    there was nothing that wasn’t for sale…

    ” “On Earth” bids farewell to the twentieth century in the voice of a baby boomer herself facing mortality. It has been greeted as Forché’s most avant-garde poem, but it should not be read as if to understand it one must be a trauma buff, or an enthusiast of experimental poetry. One need only have lived long enough to know people break and are mortal. Blue Hour’s title comes from a French expression for the time between night and dawn. It is concerned with boundaries and membranes, points at which one thing becomes another. The images of historical extremity flicker in and out among the throng of personal ghosts; one can imagine them all convening as in Hades, among the shadows of a pine forest, a blue field of snow, viewed through a window at three or four in the morning. Blue Hour has been compared to Ginsberg and Whitman; my recurrent thought is of Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, where an old man revisits the scenes and characters of his youth with a tranquility for which the price is his awareness that he is now alone with them. But Blue Hour has another dimension, close to speculative poetry.” (Reviewed by Tanya B. Avakian)

  3. Desmond :

    Ek het hierdie baie insiggewende opmerking deur Forché op die internet raakgelees. Ek stem 100% saam: “We are accustomed to rather easy categories: we distinguish between ‘personal’ and ‘political’ poems… The distinction … gives the political realm too much and too little scope; at the same time, it renders the personal too important and not important enough. If we give up the dimension of the personal, we risk relinquishing one of the most powerful sites of resistance. The celebration of the personal, however, can indicate a myopia, an inability to see how larger structures of the economy and the state circumscribe, if not determine, the fragile realm of the individual.”