What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché

Staff Pick

As a young poet translating work into Spanish, Carolyn Forché couldn’t always understand the conditions from which the Salvadoran poems she translated arose. That changed when human rights activist Leonel Gómez Vides “removed the blindfold, and ordered me to open my eyes.” He took her to hospitals lacking rudimentary supplies and dropped her off in remote mountain villages, where she slept on pallets in the huts of the campesinos, and washed with local women at a spigot of icy water. It was a world where Bible study was enough to get you killed, where villages were decimated, and their inhabitants brutalized in unthinkable ways. This searing and unforgettable memoir, What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin Press, $28), whose title comes from Forché’s frequently anthologized poem “The Colonel,” recounts her experiences as a poet and human rights activist, through the publication of her collection The Country Between Us and the assassination of Archbishop Monseñor Óscar Romero.

What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525560371
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - March 19th, 2019

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