Thomas Forsthoefel

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Thomas Forsthoefel
Occupation Professor, Author, Poet
Nationality American
Subject Non-fiction:
Religious studies
death, loss, healing, redemption[1]
Notable awards Poet Laureate for
Erie County, PA, 2010-11
Spouse Beth Gylys

Thomas Forsthoefel is a professor of religious studies at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, as well as a poet and author.[2] He has a special interest in Hinduism and Buddhism and has written on both new religious movements and established traditions within these faiths, while his own background is Roman Catholic.[3] He is married to Beth Gylys, professor of English and Creative Writing at Georgia State University and a fellow poet.[4]

In 1999, Forsthoefel met the 14th Dalai Lama while attending a conference of scholars in India. In 2008 he edited an anthology of the Dalai Lama's writings and contributed to a documentary film on him.[3]

In 2010, Forsthoefel was named Poet Laureate of Erie County, Pennsylvania.[1] He said that he was going to use that position to promote a program to introduce poetry to people incarcerated in local prisons.[5] His tenure as poet laureate was renewed for 2011.[6]

In 2011, The New York Times quoted Forsthoefel concerning the high school from which he had graduated, Fordson High School of Detroit, and its overnight football practices to accommodate Muslim students fasting for Ramadan:

I think it is really in keeping with the best instincts of Islam in honoring the Ramadan fast, which, in my view, is an intentional disruption of quotidian life in order to affirm and galvanize key principles of Islam and to live under submission to Allah. I find that very honorable and a real testimony to the awareness that there is something going on in life other than making a buck or seeing the bottom line.

— Thomas Forsthoefel, The New York Times[7]

Published works[edit]

Forsthoefel's published books include:[8]


  1. ^ a b Poisson, Lindsey (14 September 2010). "Mercyhurst College professor Tom Forsthoefel becomes Erie County's new poet laureate". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Biography, Dalai Lama film
  3. ^ a b Massing, Dana (29 November 2008). "Essential Writings". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Singers perform poetry in 'Matchbook'". Merciad. 
  5. ^ Forsthoefel named Poet Laureate, Mercyhurst College
  6. ^ Boyd, Brandon (22 June 2011). "Erie County poet laureate gets second year in post". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Longman, Jeré (10 August 2011). "All-Nighters for a Football Team During Ramadan". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Google Books