The magic of the North Carolina mountains

wildacresI just returned from a magical writing residency at Wildacres in Little Switzerland, NC, where I had the honor of being there for  a week to work on my writing. I revised older poems, wrote new (weird) ones, started a few fragmented essays, sat in on a book arts demo (and made a few one-sheet books!), took walks, and napped in the gorgeous cabin. The people of Wildacres are wonderfully kind and gentle and I got to be there at the same time as a group of adult learners from Ringling College of Art & Design, who were painting, drawing, making books, and throwing clay. It was a total gift to have so much quiet, focused time to spend just on my work. More to come soon, including books I’ve been reading recently and a new poem that just got published.


The 18 Somethings Project: June Edition #2

the 18 somethings project caroline kessler janet frishbergIt’s that time of year again, when Janet and I want to celebrate their birthdays with you by embarking on a writing adventure.

The idea, by the numbers, is this:

  • 18 days of writing for 10 minutes each day;
  • 18 original prompts we created especially for all of us;
  • 1 daily prompt, sent to you each morning by Janet or Caroline;
  • 1 supportive partner who reads your work and sends you only positive feedback, and vice versa;
  • Infinite: the amount of amazingness that can come out of this.

Learn more about the process behind the writing and the feedback on our updated websiteYou don’t have to be or call yourself a writer to participate in this. We believe writing and creativity is for everyone. If this scares or excites you at all, even more reason to do it!

You have until 11.11am PST on May 18 to sign up! There’s way more info on our site, or drop me a line with questions.

PS: More Re[en]vision zines available!

re[en]vision zine caroline kessler Good news! I just printed another 30 (yes, thirty) zines about radically re-envisioning, re-seeing, rewriting, re-doing, re-whatevering your poetry and prose. You can still get Re[en]vision for $5 (plus 1 doll hair for shipping if you don’t live in the Bay Area). They’re exactly the same as the first print run, except they’re bound with some great navy thread I got at the amazing SCRAP in the Bayview. (You can send payment and your address to carolinehkessler [at] gmail [dot] com via PayPal or Venmo. More questions? Send ‘em to that same email.)

Solo zine: Re[en]vision

My first solo zine, Re[en]vision: A Guide to Radically Re-Imagining and Re-Writing Your Prose & Poetry, is going like hotcakes, which is super-surprising to me. I recently made this zine in less than 30 days, as part of a great program facilitated by Jessica Semaan of The Passion Co and Janet Frishberg.

The zine compiles some amazing revision exercises from various classes I’ve taken (huge hat tip to the exercises from Diana Park, via Arizona’s poet laureate Alberto Rios), and I walk one of my own poems through many of the exercises. I also have a bit about your inner critic and how to deal with him/her (mine’s the skinny hipster pictured), some extra tips for prose writers, and some wise words from poet John Mortara.

New for me in this zine: hand-lettering things, using a typewriter (thanks, Loren!), drawing a few things, and doing the layout old-school (copy and paste, not on a computer). From a print run of 50, I’ve got about 10 left. Shout if you want one, or keep your eyes peeled for a second print run and/or Re[envision] #2.

The Opposite Of: Zine and Launch Party

The Opposite Of, in all its glory! With 17 contributors both by and beyond the Bay, this zine is packed with the most art we’ve ever had, plus nearly all-new contributors. Tiny Splendor did a beautiful job printing it. Big high-fives to Patrick Gage Kelley who did the cover and Sumeet Banerji who did the interior layout.

Want a copy? It’s only 5 doll hairs, and you can even send that electronically! Just email me, subject line “I want a copy of the zine.”

Thanks to everyone who made it to the party at the gorgeous space and even started a dance party at the end! It was so much FUN to celebrate with you.


Hip hip! A recording of me reading a poem into a phone. I still cringe at my “transatlantic accent” (as a dear friend once described it) but maybe you’ll be into it. (Thanks to John for all his tireless work on Voicemail Poems.)


Caroline Kessler

A woman / loose-hipped in a floor-length
dress sewn entirely from gold-
en poppies / sings an answer-less song / what good
is a heart with no one
to love. Her guitar gets lost

in her hands. You’re too small
to see properly / your lover
offers to hoist you up, hold you
on his shoulders like your father did
when you were tiny and even when you weren’t /
but you like being this close to the ground, anchored

in the sand-silt of the Sutro Caves. There is
a projector aimed at the furrowed cave walls,
a whirligig of all the colors / the ceiling starts to mirror
the people below, but you know that’s not right.

Your friend Simon says we will all turn into mushrooms in boxes,
and be buried in boxes made of mushrooms / and then
we will all finally be the same.

Behind you, your lover bobs to the music / to a beat
that doesn’t match up with the one you’re hearing.
You wonder which one of you is out of tune.

You wonder how to escape his hold on your hips.
You want to throw yourself into the tiny crowd, bouncing
near the stage like confetti. You want to stay
exactly where you are / how you are.
You want your chest to be filled with air and light, the easier
for you to dance. You want to leave, now. You wonder
how to do that. You want someone
to lay directly on top of you, pressing down. You wonder
how you can feel unbreakable.


Caroline Kessler called us from San Francisco, CA.


A cool thing coming up / voicemail poems.

So I stumbled across voicemailpoems the other day (and by day, I mean really late night hyped up on caffeine and procrastinating on a editing deadline) and promptly called the number on the website and read a poem I wrote (read, had just finished editing) called “In Some Version of Your Life,” which seemed most apropos at the time. The uber-cool John Mortara and House Phillips run the site, which posts…you guessed it, poems left on a voicemail (and the accompanying text) every Monday through Thursday. 

I’m stoked to have my poem come out on Wednesday, January 8. Stay tuned!


monday, 12/30 – W. M. Butler
tuesday, 12/31 – Kimberly Tan
wednesday, 01/01 – Carabella Sands
thursday, 01/02 – Carissa Pignatelli

monday, 01/06 – Ryan Scott Fallon
tuesday, 01/07 – Valentina Salski
wednesday, 01/08 – Caroline Kessler
thursday, 01/09 – Joschua Beres

call us! 1-910-703-POEM