November 09, 2017, BY Sherri Kimmel

Carolyn Forche
Sojka Visiting Poet Carolyn Forché reads from her work in Bucknell Hall. Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

In Bucknell Hall on Nov. 7, the seminal American poet Carolyn Forché leaned into a selection of works from an upcoming poetry collection that continues her focus on exile and injustice around the world. Forché, who also answered questions from students, faculty and community members during a lunchtime forum the following day, is the 2017–18 Sojka Visiting Poet.

Topics she addressed during her powerful reading of new poems included the experience of a Syrian refugee she met in Greece after his tragic voyage from the devastated city of Homs, and a moving visit to Odessa, Ukraine, with the poet Ilya Kaminsky, who was exiled as a child from his native city on the Black Sea by the Soviets.

Forché also read "The Colonel," a searing poem from her first book, The Country Between Us. The series of poems was based on her experiences in El Salvador from 1978 to 1980, which she told her audience "was a time of death squads in the period before the war began. The experience transformed me as a poet." The book, published in 1981, established Forché as a political poet.

Forché will continue her interactions with the Bucknell community on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. with a talk preceding a performance of The Blue Hour at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Verses from her 2003 book, Blue Hour, served as a libretto for this song cycle that was co-commissioned and is being performed by the Grammy-nominated string orchestra A Far Cry. A crew from Philadelphia-based PBS affiliate WHYY will record video of the performance for an upcoming episode of its program Articulate. || More information about the performance, including ticket prices, can be found here.