Upstart HeadshotCaroline Kessler is a poet, editor, and community creator who works at the intersections of language, spirituality, and organizing. This work takes the form of writing poetry and nonfiction, creating handmade magazines, and facilitating gatherings and spiritual experiences. She is also the author of Ritual in Blue (Sutra Press, 2018).

She is currently based in Oakland, CA, and works as the Editorial Manager at UpStart, expanding the picture of how Jews find meaning and come together. In 2012, in a friend’s basement in San Francisco, she co-created Index/Fist, a creative collective that (to this day!) publishes handmade magazines featuring the art and writing of people from around the country.

From 2015 to 2017, she co-founded and led Ashreinu, the only independent kehilla (community) in the city of St. Louis. Ashreinu gathers several times a month for inspired davening (praying), peer-led learning, and innovative Jewish ritual. During that time, she also earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University. She was a T.S. Eliot Scholar and the recipient of a University Fellowship and a full-tuition scholarship. After graduating from Washington University, she was a 2017-18 Dorot Fellow in Israel, where she lived in Jaffa, working on a collection of poetry and a series of lyric essays.

With Janet Frishberg, she’s the co-creator of The 18 Somethings Project, a writing adventure. Her freelance work involves copywriting, branding, content strategy, and developmental and copy editing for books on a variety of subjects. Titles include Adam Smiley Poswolsky’s best-selling career change book for millenials, The Quarter-life Breakthrough and Sumeet Banerji’s novel Ice Party

She holds a BA with honors in Creative Writing and a minor in Religion from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was also the student Commencement Speaker. More on LinkedIn and very occasionally, Twitter.

Want to connect? Drop a line: hi@carokess.com.

Photo credit: Jaime Rapaport Barry.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. Melissa Chapnick told me about you! Fascinating blog! Hope to see you some at some Sunday’s Share the Wealth! May our paths cross in Saint Louis!

  2. Thank you so much, Mark! Melissa said great things about you and I love what you’re doing with Share the Wealth. I’ve been out of town the past few Sundays but hope to make it soon 🙂

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