Poetry by Kelly Forsythe

August 7, 2018 • 6 x 9 • 72 pages • 978-1-56689-517-0

Girlhood, selfhood, and the fragility of safety in tender poems that examine and then mourn micro- and macroscopic violence.

From “Periphery”:

Set back, growing dim,
it pulsed: a gray hour
of oxygen—could it be

mid-winter within
him? Shaking
out a muscle: we

are somewhere
averting. We are
backwards or in
a trance or in a
dioxide stargazing.

About the Author

Kelly Forsythe’s work has been published in Black Warrior Review, The Literary Review, The Minnesota Review, and Columbia Poetry Review, among others. Forsythe was the director of publicity for Copper Canyon Press for over half a decade and is the founder of Phantom Books, an online literary journal and chapbook press. She teaches creative writing in the Jiménez-Porter Writers House at the University of Maryland and works at National Geographic.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“Kelly Forsythe takes us through the Columbine massacre from the perspective of a teenage girl forced to reckon, for the first time, with brutality and helplessness. Laced with lyricism, anguished searching, and a heartbreaking delicacy of perception, Perennial is a book born of devastation that lifts us into new forms of empathy. The poems glow with life.” —Joanna Klink

“At the center of Kelly Forsythe’s debut collection is a pulsating violence that beats in our ears, a threat at the periphery of our vision that we keep turning and turning to see. ‘We were in the midst of it all the time,’ declares one poem—and to read Perennial is to be ever in the midst, held captive, always moving within a world of impermeable borders. These poems reverberate against their walls—the walls of a classroom, of a school, the seemingly closed system of adolescence, the boundaries of the body itself—creating an atmosphere of unnerving intimacy. And what exists beyond these barriers? Perennial tests its fences, peers through the cracks to catch a glimmer of the unknown: a light that might burst through to free us, or consume us.” —Camille Rankine

“What happens after the flowers? After carnage and grief? Who gets to become themselves and who doesn’t? This book splits the world in two—a mirror before and after violence, a fearlessness revealing the lines and paths of fear, a split screen of innocence and devastation. Kelly Forsythe is a true word-witch, casting spells to pierce their easy surfaces, to let multiple stranger, brilliant meanings leak out. She sees tiny key details as clues to the bigger mysteries and lets a generous beauty take root in a ground of fear and chaos which ‘suddenly knew / the underside of infinity.’ In the rare poetries of compassion and complexity—Forché, Glück, Nye— Forsythe is next, now, with a deep and supple art that makes more than sense, more than peace, more than a reckoning. It makes a way forward, heart refilled again and again with blood and life and blossoming future. If we are going to keep going, we need this devastating and gorgeous book.” —Brenda Shaughnessy