Meet Kyla Marshell

Kyla is a graduate of Spelman College and the Writing M.F.A. at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New York, where she is working on a memoir about a chance encounter with a distant relative that leads her to research her family’s origins. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Blackbird, Gawker, the Guardian, O, the Oprah Magazine, the Poetry Foundation, SPOOK Magazine, Vinyl Poetry, and elsewhere. Her work has earned her numerous honors, including a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.




Streetstyle Details: Top, Forever 21 ; Jeans, H&M // PHOTOGRAPHY BY Michelle Peralta

I started writing very young—in Kindergarten. I really enjoyed doing it, and was celebrated for it, so I just kept going. I started writing poetry as a teenager, and over the last few years, I became serious about writing creative nonfiction. I am also a freelance writer which I do with equal parts pride and annoyance.

Dress, Willow & Clay ; Shoes, INC

My morning routine is very, very basic. I shower, dress, and eat breakfast. I usually listen to music as I get dressed; if it’s Tuesday, I’ll listen to the Another Round podcast or 2 Dope Queens.
I’m writing a book that explores the relationships with family I’ve met later in life, and by surprise—everyone from siblings I’d never met to a white cousin (who didn’t know she was black!). There’s a travel element to it—going to my ancestral homeland to meet some of these people, dig through old court records; there’s secret identities, murder. People keep asking me if this is a novel, but it’s actually my life.
Kyla's favorite book

Kyla's favorite book

Kyla's favorite book

I picked Letters to a Young Poet because it is my personal secular art bible. It’s gotten me through some very tough times, when I felt lost, or confused, or alone. Over and over, I’ve said to myself that great, famous quotation from Letter 4: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” I’ve been slowly embroidering that quotation onto a ribbon as well.

Dress, Willow & Clay

For better or worse, I don’t have a real beauty routine. I would like to think this is because I am a “natural beauty”—but really, I don’t get into products, because I don’t want to be dependent on them. My hair pretty much looks the same no matter what I do or don’t do to it, but I try to moisturize it, at least, with shea butter and oil. I wear tinted moisturizer, eyeliner and blush—more so for myself than for the appearance (I doubt I look much different with so little makeup on). I try to make sure things are paraben-free, and as simply made as possible.
Simple is better. Whenever I’m nervous about going somewhere or meeting someone, thinking, ‘Should I put on more makeup?’ I just remember that no one ever liked me because I had on mascara.
Because I’m old inside, I have always shopped at a lot of vintage or consignment stores. For a while, I was using Stitch Fix to find new clothes. I don’t have pierced ears, so I wear a lot of vintage earrings—I like Pippin Jewelers in Manhattan. I’m inclined to wear solid colors instead of prints or patterns—I prefer textures.





✓ Four & Twenty Blackbirds this pie shop in Brooklyn is divine

 ✓ Ample Hills Creamery ice cream (I’m very into fancy ice cream.)