The Universal Political Poem

One of the first poets to balance the public message with the felt experience is Carolyn Forche whose book The Country Between Us (Harper and Row, 1981) remains a touchstone for the contemporary political poet. Her politics occasionally disturb readers but her poetry always stirs them to the quick. In the 1980s, when many of her contemporaries were writing about shopping malls and love at honky-tonks, Forche was writing about America and Latin America. Her verse was so accomplished that it will echo for decades to come. The poet Denise Levertov wrote about Forche: "Here's a poet who's doing what I want to do, what I want to see all of us doing in this time without any close parallels or precedents in history: she is creating poems in which there is no seam between personal and political. . . ."

To illustrate, let's read one of Forche's best political works:

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