POETS @ STANZA 2020: A SELECTION OF REVIEWS BY DURA - Carolyn Forché

Friday 21 February 2020

For 2020, the StAnza Blog is hosting DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – who as reviewers in virtual residence on the StAnza Blog will post excerpts from their selection of reviews of titles by poets on the StAnza 2020 programme, including this one in today’s blog. The full review can be read on their website at  https://dura-dundee.org.uk/category/poets-stanza-2019-reviews/. Written by staff and students, DURA is keen to promote the diversity of artists and art forms in the UK context, supporting especially (albeit non-exclusively) independent cinema outlets, exhibitions, theatre, film and publishing. 

Carolyn Forché, The Country Between Us, reviewed by Beth McDonough

These are all poems of huge humanity, and even the horrific is both contained and detonated purposefully in the care of the lyric. The poet's love of the intimacies, intricacies and specifics of place not only colours images for those not present, it also builds an understanding of the people behind the atrocities, and allows them a humanity that the best-reported headlines and most accurate statistics cannot.... That is something rare.

This then is poetry of the cut of Heaney and Ahkmatova, with the imagery of Márquez; in ‘Endurance’, the speaker is haunted by ‘dead Anna’, ‘her eyes the hard pits of her past’ in a country

where mountains hold the breath
of the dead between then and lift
from each morning a fresh bandage of mist.

(‘Endurance’)

Bloodaxe is to be congratulated for re-releasing The Country Between Us, for though there are sound publishing reasons for doing so, this is an important work, which deserves to come to still-wider attention.

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