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Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness
     

Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness

5.0 2
by Carolyn Forché (Editor)
 

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This landmark anthology, the first of its kind, takes its impulse from the words of Bertolt Brecth: "In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times." Bearing witness to extremity - whether of war, torture, exile or repression - the volume encompasses more than 140 poems from five continents, over the span of this

Overview

This landmark anthology, the first of its kind, takes its impulse from the words of Bertolt Brecth: "In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times." Bearing witness to extremity - whether of war, torture, exile or repression - the volume encompasses more than 140 poems from five continents, over the span of this century from the Armenian genocide to Tiananmen Square.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This large volume assembles the work of nearly 150 poets, all marked in some direct way by the century's wars or devastations. Many of the poets did not survive these conflicts--some painfully perfect works by the Hungarian Miklos Radnoti were exhumed with his body from a mass grave in 1946--and others survived only to commit suicide later on. As an anthologist, poet Forche ( The Country Between Us ) vows to present a ``poetic memorial to those who suffered and resisted through poetry itself,'' rather than to propose a ``canon'' of their works, but her book honors both intentions. Apart from the voices' high moral ground, the common preference for laconic understatement is notable; objectified horrors seem to expunge any bent toward self-pity or sententiousness. Forche's attempt to avoid a Eurocentric collection is limited by what is available in a ``quality translation''; only two Asian poets (both Chinese) are featured, and among the several African poets included here, all but one (Afrikaans poet Breyten Breytenbach) write in English. She generally chooses recent and fresh-sounding translations (John Felstiner's rendering of Paul Celan's ``Death Fugue,'' for example, is boldly effective). Poets are grouped in association with their respective historical focal points--e.g., the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and 13 others. (Mar . )
Zom Zoms
Once read, the poems in this very moving anthology will not soon be forgotten. Together, they shed a harsh light as they witness the madness humanity has wrought upon itself during the course of this century. Editor Forche has accomplished an important task in assembling them into a collective voice speaking for individuals whose own suffering voices too often went unheard. Even now, still, at the tail end of a century in which, Forche says, "monstrous acts have come to seem almost normal," it is sobering to see the darker side of humanity through a poet's personal lens as it focuses upon genocide in Armenia, the years of European fascism, even the dark streets of our own United States. These spectators to modern horror span the century and include Edward Thomas and e. e. cummings observing World War I; Akhmatova, Pasternak, Brodsky, and Ratushinskaya watching the Bolshevik revolution and its long wake; Garcia Lorca and Auden on the Spanish civil war; Pound, Brecht, and a few dozen more witnessing the second world conflagration; and many more right up to Soyinka and Breitenbach on South Africa's freedom struggle, Bei Dao and Duoduo on China's.
Nelson Mandela
“Poetry cannot block a bullet or still a sjambok, but it can bear witness to brutality—thereby cultivating a flower in a graveyard. Carolyn Fourché's Against Forgetting is itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice. It bears witness to the evil we would prefer to forget, but never can—and never should.”
Calvin Bedient
“In a class by itself, edited and and introduced with precise passion and Olympian breadth, Against Forgetting encapsulates both the horrors of our century and the power of musical language to make a place to live, breathe, hope, love.”
Arthur Miller
“From every continent comes the news that our age is an age of murder and repression on a scale unimagined before. And yet I can't peruse this book without marveling at what beauty these writers have made of the calamity called the Twentieth Century. I would not have thought a poetry anthology could be so stirring.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393033724
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/15/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
500

What People are Saying About This

Calvin Bedient
In a class by itself, edited and and introduced with precise passion and Olympian breadth, Against Forgetting encapsulates both the horrors of our century and the power of musical language to make a place to live, breathe, hope, love.
Arthur Miller
From every continent comes the news that our age is an age of murder and repression on a scale unimagined before. And yet I can't peruse this book without marveling at what beauty these writers have made of the calamity called the Twentieth Century. I would not have thought a poetry anthology could be so stirring.
Nelson Mandela
Poetry cannot block a bullet or still a sjambok, but it can bear witness to brutality—thereby cultivating a flower in a graveyard. Carolyn Fourché's Against Forgetting is itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice. It bears witness to the evil we would prefer to forget, but never can—and never should.

Meet the Author

Carolyn Forché, poet, translator, and activist, is professor of English at Georgetown University. She has published two award-winning volumes of poetry, Gathering the Tribes and The Country Between Us. In 1990 Ms. Fourché received a Lannan Literary Award, granted to poets and writers of literary excellence "whose work promotes a truer understanding of contemporary life." Her most recent volume of poetry is Blue Hour.

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Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a testament to the fact that we must remember the struggles and negativity that surround warfare. The collections of poetry cover various historical periods and different places of conflict. My review does not give this book justice. However, I love it. I am using it in my English creative writing classes.