Anyone can watch the world change and stare with wonder. But for Carolyn Forche this wonderment turned her into a poet.
“I publish a book every decade or so,” said Ms. Forche. “They reflect changes in my life and concerns and interests, and formal changes as well.”
Ms. Forche will give a reading at Featherstone Center for the Arts’ Summer Festival of Poetry on Sunday, July 29, beginning at 7 p.m. The reading will be of new poems, works-in-progress, for a book she hopes to finish this fall. The Vineyard audience will be the first to hear several of the new poems. “And a few old ones might sneak their way in,” she said.
In the past year alone, Ms. Forche has visited Vietnam, Libya, Jamaica, Ireland and Greece to share her work. After a stop on the Vineyard, she’ll head to Italy for more poetry readings.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Ms. Forche. “I’ve had quite an incredible year.”
Long before she began traveling as a poet, she traveled as a human rights activist.
“In the late seventies I became active in human rights work, initially in El Salvador, and also in Northern Ireland, South Africa and Lebanon.” All of those locations eventually found a place in Ms. Forche’s poetry, prime examples of a world in flux.
Perhaps Martha’s Vineyard will soon appear in her work.
“The Vineyard has always beckoned because it’s a place where a number of friends of mine have spent summers,” said Ms. Forche. “I’ve visited the Vineyard once before for a family wedding, but this time I will be able to get a sense of the land.”
Plus, many friends are here. Ms. Forche may not have Vineyard roots herself, but many poets she knows personally and admires greatly live on the Island for part of the year.
“I’ll be staying with my dear friend Honor Moore,” said Ms. Forche. Ms. Moore and Ms. Forche met at a poetry event in 1980. It was Ms. Moore who facilitated this reading.
Ms. Forche also met Island poet Jorie Graham several years ago. The two have continued their friendship in the past year, teaching together at Georgetown University. Ms. Graham will read at Featherstone on August 14 as part of the summer festival.
“There’s a whole group of phenomenal women,” said Ms. Forche. “It’s really drawing me. I just leapt at the chance to come to the Island for just a few days.”