A New York Times “New & Noteworthy” Selection

STAFF PICK for Publishers Weekly's "BEST SUMMER READS of 2018"


CNN says: "PERENNIAL shifts the conversation about school shootings from policy to people."

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 stranger, multiple 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—Forche, Gluck, 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 re-filled 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