The poems in Carolyn Forché’s new collection keep coming to endings, in museums, cemeteries, and the body’s “briefly illumined” plots, each ending versed as "fields in bloom/but silent." Yet as with Forché's early work, "souls have their own world" in this work, ghosting a personal politic at those ends, and mapping an "unknown place as between languages” we all might understand. The poems read as if shaped of the "descendants of clouds" amid a "death darkening" world history, back across cities wherein their each speaker chronicles a history, the country of new beginnings. — Ray Marsocci
“An undisputed literary event.” — NPR
A new poetry collection of uncanny grace and moral force from one of our country's most celebrated poets
Over four decades, Carolyn Forché's visionary work has reinvigorated poetry's power to awaken the reader. Her groundbreaking poems have been testimonies, inquiries, and wonderments. They daringly map a territory where poetry asserts our inexhaustible responsibility to each other.
Her first new collection in seventeen years, In the Lateness of the World is a tenebrous book of crossings, of migrations across oceans and borders but also between the present and the past, life and death. The poems call to the reader from the end of the world where they are sifting through the aftermath of history. Forché envisions a place where "you could see everything at once ... every moment you have lived or place you have been." The world here seems to be steadily vanishing, but in the moments before the uncertain end, an illumination arrives and "there is nothing that cannot be seen." In the Lateness of the World is a revelation from one of the finest poets writing today.
About the Author
Carolyn Forché is an American poet, translator, and memoirist. Her books of poetry are Blue Hour, The Angel of History, The Country Between Us, and Gathering the Tribes. Her memoir, What You Have Heard Is True, was published by Penguin Press in 2019. In 2013, Forché received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship given for distinguished poetic achievement. In 2017, she became one of the first two poets to receive the Windham-Campbell Prize. She is a University Professor at Georgetown University. She lives in Maryland with her husband, photographer Harry Mattison.
“The title of Carolyn Forché’s new collection seems prophetic. Seventeen years in the making, In the Lateness of the World is an act of witness, going repeatedly into the darkness of death and loss. . . . Forché’s almost incantatory way with image produces a strange tone, spell-bound but also emotionally charged, in which time and place shift and blur – because we’re all implicated.” —The Guardian
“Forché’s stately stanzas—her writing is never hurried—are the work of a literary reporter, Gloria Emerson as filtered through the eyes of Elizabeth Bishop or Grace Paley. Free of jingoism but not of moral gravity, Forché’s work questions—when it does question—how to be or to become a thinking, caring, communicating adult. Taken together, Forché’s five books of verse—the most recent, ‘In the Lateness of the World’ (Penguin Press), was published in March—are about action: memory as action, vision and writing as action. She asks us to consider the sometimes unrecognized, though always felt, ways in which power inserts itself into our lives and to think about how we can move forward with what we know. History—with its construction and its destruction—is at the heart of ‘In the Lateness of the World’ . . . In [it] one feels the poet cresting a wave—a new wave that will crash onto new lands and unexplored territories.” —Hilton Als, The New Yorker
“In the Lateness of the World is a testament to the aftermath of human culture . . . Forché’s belief that it is the poet’s responsibility to speak truth from these wounded cities creates poems that are sometimes difficult to reckon with even as they soar in moments of unexpected beauty.” —The New York Times Book Review
“An undisputed literary event.” —Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR
"Auden once wrote that poetry makes nothing happen, but in Forche's work, her life-long commitment to poetry and the poetic utterance, we see how poetry can transform. Both What You Have Heard Is True and In the Lateness of the World are essential reading not only for anyone interested in poetry, but in the world we live in." —Independent (Ireland)
“Throughout her career, Forché has forged poems of witness, and she does so here with beauty and lyricism.” —Library Journal