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This article originally appeared in American Poet, the biannual journal of the Academy of American Poets."American poetry has been part of a culture in conflict....We are a people tending toward democracy at the level of hope; at another level, the economy of the nation, the empire of business within the republic, both include in their basic premise the idea of perpetual warfare."— Muriel Rukeyser: The Life of Poetry (1949)
Award-winning poet, editor, translator, and human rights advocate Carolyn Forché presents the Blaney lecture "Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness" on October 25, 2013, at Poets Forum in New York City. Forché's lecture, which appears below, also appeared in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2014.
Tracy K. Smith synthesizes the riches of many discursive and poetic traditions without regard to doctrine and with great technical rigor. Her poems are mysterious but utterly lucid and write a history that is sub-rosa yet fully within her vision. They are deeply satisfying and necessarily inconclusive. And they are pristinely beautiful without ever being precious.