Spring Reading

what i'm readingJust a little light reading for the start of spring: a few pages away from finishing Bad Feminist / saw Claudia Rankine read at Berkeley a few weeks ago and am savoring Citizen / read Long Quiet Highway in two days while back on the East coast, because Natalie Goldberg’s books are meditations in themselves / will read I Love a Broad Margin to My Life before heading to the AROHO retreat in August because Maxine Hong Kingston will be the keynote / I’m woefully underread on Kabbalah so there’s that / and some poetry to round it all out.


Winter Reading

Some things I’ve been reading and obsessing over since mid-December that maybe you want to check out. (* indicates my dear friend Janet either recommended or lent me the book…I call it the Janet-Frishberg-curriculum-for-becoming-a-better-writer-and-human.)

Object of Beauty, Steve Martin (made me see the “art world” differently)
Bound, Antonya Nelson (after I read this mind-blowing piece on revision she wrote, I had to read her fiction)
Bluets, Maggie Nelson* (from Wave Books, so good it makes me want to write little prose pieces that I can compile into a slim obsessive volume)
Truth and Beauty*, Ann Patchett (about her friendship with Lucy Grealy)
Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy (Lucy’s memoir)
My Heart is an Idiot, Davy (hysterically funny essays)
Female Trouble: Stories, Antonya Nelson (compelling and character-driven)
Women, Chloe Caldwell* (a similar size to Bluets and a similar wonderfully transparent, up-front voice)

In progress:

Bad Feminist*, Roxane Gay (I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know)
Rome, Dorothea Lasky (her new books of poems with a polar bear on the cover!)
Monogamy Songs, Gregory Sherl (heartbreakingly sad; I’ve been reading it as I wait for the bike shuttle in downtown San Francisco to head back to the East Bay, and there’s something about the smell of the Bay and the dimming evening light that goes perfectly with these poems)
Lucky Us, Amy Bloom (Amy is one of my favorite fiction writers–I’ve re-read her other books multiple times, and am so glad she has something new out)

A poem in Rivet

Rivet-cover-issue_3I’m really honored to be a part of Rivet’s third issue! My poem, “Found Letter, Collaged Back Together,” is alongside poems from four other awesome ladies. There’s also some rad fiction. Rivet, from Red Bridge Press, calls themselves “the journal of writing that risks” and I’ve definitely found that to be true in reading the work they publish.

My poem went through many iterations, first started out as a response to Melissa Chandler’s piece, “Considering They Lived,” over at Quiet Lightning; then there was a written-backwards version of that, an abandoned version, and a few others in between until it finally became a found letter poem, with some references to San Francisco.

In other news, after reading this amazing piece on LongReads, an interview with Berkeley-based author Julia Scheeres, I found her book at the library the next day: A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown. The interview with Scheeres describes why we need to stop saying “drink the Kool-Aid,” which is offensive to Jones’ victims. The book is wonderfully crafted, suspenseful, empathic, and well-researched–a must-read about an important and misunderstood tragedy.

Some new & old reading

profane journalI’m thrilled to be in the inaugural issue of Profane, a beautiful journal out of Mankato, Minnesota by the indefatigable Jacob Little and Patrick Chambers. They made this lovely print journal and put out an audio version as well, which includes the writers reading their work and discussing their creative process. You can purchase the print/audio version here or listen to the issue on Bandcamp. My poem is called “Instructions for Flirting,” inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Eliza at a 100-beers-of-solitude party (a spoof on the book and there were actually more than 100 types of beer).

And a little late to a different kind of party party, but if you haven’t read Robert Hass’ collection of essays What Light Can Do, you are seriously missing out, as I was for the past few years. It’s easy to read, hard to put down, full of intricate examinations of poetry, translation, art, spirituality, and more.

“How to have a creative retreat” on Misadventures

oregon9Back in August, four dear friends and I gathered a beautiful house in Yachats, Oregon (motto: Gem of the Oregon coast). Why? Because I had this vision of having a “creative retreat” and talked my friend Peter into driving us up from Berkeley, and talked Rebecca, Kenzie, and Kenzie’s friend Molly (who didn’t know me) into driving out from Portland. I wanted to gather in a house on the coast over Labor Day weekend to write, read, make art, cook big dinners, walk on the beach, read poems aloud to each other, and whatever else struck us. It took a bit of emailing, a LOT of Airbnb-surfing, and even more driving t o make it all happen, but we pulled it off!


Toregon10hen I thought, wouldn’t other people want to do this too? It really wasn’t that hard to put together, and I can think of a lot of people who need a jump-start (or re-start) on their creative life. So I wrote this how-to piece for the awesome Misadventures Magazine. They’re a women-run publication “spotlighting women who embrace creativity, take risks, and go out and beyond.” Rad, right? I thought so. All of the gorgeous photos in the article are by Molly Dickinson and Rebecca Yates.

oregon8Photos in this here blog post courtesy of Kenzie Rowlett. Thanks to Misadventures for publishing this piece and to Kenzie, Peter, Molly, and Rebecca for embarking on this adventure with me.


Writing Without Walls: Wild Animals

writing without wallsMore exciting news: I’m part of an awesome, submissions-based reading series in San Francisco called Writing Without Walls. The theme this month is WILD ANIMALS (so me, right?). This Thursday, October 23, 7pm, at Cafe du Soleil in the Lower Haight. More info on the book of faces event.

I’ll be reading three poems, one about San Francisco’s very own columbarium. Stoked to meet the other writers and to read my work in a cafe that I have “worked in” (read, camped out in) many Sunday afternoons, back when when I lived a few blocks away.

The 2015 AROHO Retreat

arohoSuper-honored to have been chosen as the Los Angeles Review fellow for the 2015 AROHO (A Room of Her Own) Retreat in Abiquiu, New Mexico! I’m in amazing company–so many brilliant poets, nonfiction writers, novelists, and more. You can read about all the participating writers here. The AROHO Retreat is “not simply a retreat, and much more than a writer’s conference, AROHO’s Retreat & Waves Discussion Series is a week-long interdisciplinary experience shaped by our transformative and generous history.” Even though it’s not until August of next year, I’m already stoked. A huge thanks to the Los Angeles Review for providing this fellowship, which goes to a woman who is an editor or works in independent publishing.

“I’m fundamentally, I think, an outsider. I do my best work and feel most braced with my back to the wall. It’s an odd feeling, though, writing against the current: difficult entirely to disregard the current. Yet of course I shall.” —Virginia Woolf’s Diary, November 22, 1938


Things Men Have Told Me About My Body: A Zine.

things men have told me about my body zineThe title of this brilliant zine that my friend Red Velvet just put out is pretty self-explanatory. Here’s an excerpt from the intro:

“Why does anyone feel like they can comment on bodies that don’t belong to them, particularly female bodies?

This is a zine about things that have been said to us: by friends, lovers, passerby, family, and strangers.

Some are funny, some are rude, some are simply puzzling.

Many are hurtful, and some are seriously upsetting.

things men have told me about my body zineAll are completely unnecessary.

Generally, the people telling you things about your body are people who are not used to having their bodies critiqued in turn. This is about power, and visibility.”

The zine features 30+ anonymous submissions of cat calls, drawings, prose, and more, all compiled, edited, stapled, and carefully laid out by Red Velvet. I’m super-proud to be included in this zine and hope more editions are forthcoming! If you want to buy it (a mere two doll hairs, people), head to her Etsy store.

The first photo above is me packing this zine to take to some feminist writer friends in Oregon.

Etymology in Up the Staircase Quarterly

up the staircase quarterlyWhee! The latest issue of Up the Staircase Quarterly just came out, and my poem “Etymology” is in it, alongside some beautiful art, reviews, and other poems. I’m trying to think of something interesting to tell you about this poem other than it has a lot of water in it and I started writing this poem over two years ago as a letter called “Dear Joe / Long Letter to a Friend” and it kept evolving and the margins kept changing–but you should probably just read it. If you want.

Also: April Michelle Bratten is the powerhouse behind the journal and a huge thanks to her for publishing this piece.



Two new pieces in Treehouse

treehouse poem caroline kesslerI’m beyond thrilled to have two short pieces in Treehouse, an online magazine that focuses on short writing, both poetry and prose. The editors of Treehouse accepted a poem I’ve been working on (aka coming back to and abandoning and coming back to…) for a while, “A Conversation in the Columbarium,” loosely about San Francisco’s columbarium. They also ask contributors for a “5 Things” list, which could be anything from an Amazon wish list to bodies of water you’re obsessed with. Read the poem and the list on Treehouse’s beautiful site.