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Award-winning poet, professor and human rights activist Carolyn Forche will read poetry and from her 2019 memoir "What You have Heard Is True" at Augustana College at 7 p.m. tonight.

ROCK ISLAND – Award-winning poet, professor and human rights activist Carolyn Forche will read poetry and from her 2019 memoir "What You have Heard Is True" at Augustana College at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Wallenberg Hall, second floor of the Denkmann Memorial Building, 3520 7th Ave.

A public reception and book signing will follow.

"What You Have Heard Is True" is one of 10 books long-listed for the 2019 National Book Award for non-fiction. It is a memoir about Forche's choice to engage with horror to help others, taking place in El Salvador a couple of years before its civil war in 1980.

“I could just as well write my poetry from the quiet of my own study,” Forché writes, “but I had known since childhood that human suffering demanded a response, everywhere and always.”

A Washington Post review said: “A portrait of the artist as political and poetic ingenue, 'What You Have Heard Is True' is just such a response, a riveting account of how she made good on that conviction. It bears eloquent witness to injustice and atrocity and to how observing them shaped a fearless poet.”

Rebecca Wee, an award-winning poet and professor of English at Augustana, knew Forche in graduate school (at George Mason University), where Forche was her mentor and advisor.

“I’d not have published my own poems or become a professor of poetry if it hadn’t been for her,” Wee said in a college release.

Forche’s first volume, "Gathering the Tribes” (1976), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. She also is the author of "The Country Between Us," "The Angel of History" and "Blue Hour." Her 1993 international anthology "Against Forgetting" was praised by Nelson Mandela as “itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice.” She followed that anthology with another in 2014, "The Poetry of Witness."

Forche is currently a professor at Georgetown University where she directs the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. Her Rock Island visit is sponsored by the River Readings at Augustana College, an annual literary reading series featuring authors from around the country and beyond, working in a variety of genres.

For more information, visit poetryfoundation.org/poets/carolyn-forche.

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