Often, I feel grounded by literally being on the ground–putting my spine against the earth. In those moments, I try to look up, and to remember the grandness of the world. Feeling grateful for finishing up the first year of my MFA program, for the poems + nonfiction I wrote and got feedback on, for the Jewish community I’ve been building here, for the spaciousness and quiet of St. Louis. More soon!
Back in the Bay after several months away means exploring old & new haunts in the city and the East Bay with dear friends. Pictured: views from Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in the Berkeley Hills, close-up of the 10 million-year-old volcano, sunset vista from Bernal Hill in San Francisco, mural in the Mission, peeking up at Bernal from between buildings in the flats.
I really admire Jen Pastiloff and her powerhouse of a site, The Manifest-Station, so I’m honored to have a piece up there called “Meditations on Desire.” This is the first personal essay / lyric essay / long prose poem / difficult-to-classify-by-genre piece I’ve had published, and it touches on a lot of themes I’ve been thinking about for a long time, going back to my time in Poland up to the more present moment, when I was living in the Bay.
The first (and maybe only?) Cardinals game I will ever go to; clouds galore; The Mud House, one of the best coffee shops around, on Cherokee Street (see offensive statue); semi-secret butterfly garden near campus; Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (big Catholic presence here); surprise, the Arch; some artfully arranged frames at The Heirloom Room.
In the midst of all this, my parents gallantly flew here and helped me move in; I started three classes (+ auditing a fourth); wrote some poems; went to a bunch of art openings; my mom came back and I showed her the good parts of STL; and the sun set a bunch of times and made the clouds look amazing.
In some ways, all of that time in nature feels incredibly far away, as I settle into a new life in St. Louis–and in other ways, it all feels quite close. Right before we left Mt. Hood, Ryan Pierce (co-founder of Signal Fire, affectionately known as Tarp Tarmac, one half of the dream team that staffed the residency, and artist) encouraged us to keep a piece of the mountain with us as we navigated landing back in the real world. I’ve got that piece with me, and a lot of pictures of clouds because it’s true, the sky really is bigger in New Mexico.
(And yes, I wrote some things in these places and maybe soon I will say something about that.)
Index/Fist, the creative collective I co-founded, just released its latest zine, “Recalculating.” This is a collection of geography/cartography-themed work with more than 20 contributors from the East Coast to the East Bay. We solicited contributions of prose, poetry, and art from talented friends we knew, organized them in a coherent narrative, had them printed on a Risograph via Tiny Splendor, hand-sewed 150+ zines in my living room, and celebrated the release at the East Bay Moishe House, a Jewish communal house in Oakland, CA.
If you’d like a copy of the zine, we’d love to send you one! Send $5 per zine + $1 for shipping to carolinehkessler [at] gmail [dot] com via Paypal or Venmo. Put your address in the notes section. Or email me about how to send a check. Local delivery to the East Bay or San Francisco.
There are mere hours left to head down a path of activating your creativity! The fourth edition of The 18 Somethings Project will run July 1-18. This writing adventure is 18 days of writing 10 minutes a day, sharing/receiving ONLY positive feedback with a stranger, and jump-starting (or re-starting!) your creative life. Lots of magic has emerged from the previous 3 editions, like folks finishing novels and starting writing groups.
Sign up before 11:11pm PST tonight (June 22) by filling out a short Google form and sending in your donation. Questions? 18somethings [at] gmail [dot] com.
Image: Train tracks in Colfax, CA.