Interview #63: Kelly Forsythe

Kelly Forsyth Pittsburgh Poet

Kelly Forsythe has a way with words.

Recently she was named by the Academy of American Poets' magazine, "American Poet," as an emerging poet to watch. And she lives right here in Pittsburgh!

Just have a read:

Burning Lawn

Tonight I saw sparks in the grass
and thought about losing you
how it might feel equally like fire,
each green blade
a matchstick glowing
under the oak tree
Will you come here? I’m the most
sorry I’ll ever be—
I’m the most a root I’ll
ever be—plunging deeper
into the Pennsylvania soil,
holding you in place, holding you here
There is no stronger binding
to this earth

Beautiful, Right?

When I arrived at Voluto to meet Kelly for coffee, she was super warm and friendly—she even greeted me with a hug! I really loved hearing more about her life and story. She is one of those people I could chat with for hours.

Kelly is truly following her dreams, with the encouragement from a high-school teacher, she developed a passion for poetry and hasn't looked back since. In a field that is highly competitive, Kelly's dedication is quite admirable.

I hope you enjoy Kelly's interview. And be sure to check out more of her work on her website,

Name: Kelly Forsythe

Job title: Writer / Poet, and Publicist for Copper Canyon Press


Neighborhood you live in: Polish Hill

Coffee Shop Drink of Choice: Starbucks latte with two Splenda

Current Shampoo Preference: Biolage by Matrix

Why do you choose Pittsburgh as your home?
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, born and raised to love the Steelers, and my poetry
was born and raised by the rich Pittsburgh literary community.

Who do you spend your time with?
I spend time with my partner, John, who is a city medic, and my friends who are scattered
throughout Shadyside, Southside, Chicago and New York. I’m also a big fan of spending
time with the Target store in East Liberty.

What are your favorite aspects of your job?
Working with poets who are incredibly talented, gracious, impassioned, piercing, and intuitive. I love being able to promote an art that has the ability to enhance or even
change someone’s perspective on a given event or emotion.

Do you have a soul food?
My soul food is a plate of sliced tomatoes topped with a ton of salt. Or just a bowl of
white rice with a ton of salt, i.e. so much you can feel the gritty texture.

What are some of your recent personal goals?
I am working on revising and editing my first book-length collection of poems, Colorado Perennial, so my most recent goal is to see it in print one day. I’ve also been learning to cook, but haven’t progressed much past chicken dishes with four or five ingredients.

What are your favorite Pittsburgh restaurants?
I really enjoy Eleven, down in the Strip District, and recently discovered SMOKE in Homestead after my friend Kristie recommended it. Hofbrauhaus is always a fun experience. I’m still on the search for a good, authentic Mexican restaurant.

Describe your ideal day.
It would be on the weekend. Wake up around 9am, make coffee at home, do some kind of workout, write for a few hours. Go out to dinner with my loved one. Watch a new episode of Intervention or Real Housewives and read a new collection of poems or a murder mystery novel. Watch the sun go down in Schenley Park. Have accomplished everything on my to-do list so I can check off the items—it is one of the most gratifying things to check off items—then go to sleep.

What is the most memorable live show you have seen in Pittsburgh?
I saw Eddie Griffin, the comedian, at the Improv in 2011. It was hilarious, but also extremely emotional. He was overcoming some obstacles in his personal life that he shared with the audience. The show was almost three hours long with no breaks—he was relentless and hysterical. I also agree with Megs Yunn’s answer that any ride on public transportation in Pittsburgh is a “memorable show.”

What do you think Pittsburgh will be like in ten years? What do you love most
about the city?

I think Pittsburgh will be as ever-beautiful, as ever-thriving (as it is now) in 10 years. My hope is that we keep winning Super Bowls and owning in the NFL. What I love most about Pittsburgh is the history. The time period during which Pittsburgh “grew up” was terrifically important in our nation’s history: the rise of the Steel Industry, the rise of unions. I love the preservation and protection of this history in Pittsburgh.