Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness

Overview

This landmark anthology, the first of its kind, takes it impulse from the words of Bertolt Brecht: "In these 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 poets from five continents, over the span of this century from the Armenian genocide to Tiananmen Square.

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Overview

This landmark anthology, the first of its kind, takes it impulse from the words of Bertolt Brecht: "In these 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 poets from five continents, over the span of this century from the Armenian genocide to Tiananmen Square.

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Editorial Reviews

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.”
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.”
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 . )
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393309768
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 816
  • Sales rank: 541,635
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 1.36 (d)

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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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    Fantastic and thought-provoking...

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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