Caroline Kessler

Hi there! I'm Caroline Kessler, a poet who divides her time between freelance writing, editing, and empowering people to build skills and find jobs at JVS in San Francisco. I'm always redefining home, but this is my little piece of the Internet for now. Take a look around: there are some poems and articles I've written, books I've copyedited and made, countries I've traveled to, and other things your little heart desires...




  • Lingus

    After many Mondays of "writing night" with three dear friends in San Francisco, we put together a zine that challenges traditional ideas of sex, gender, and navigating this complicated city. It's not available online (because that's not the point of a zine) but you can look at some pictures and squint at the text here. Or, just ask for a copy!

  • Habits of the Mouth

    After even more Mondays of "writing night" with three slightly different but still dear friends in San Francisco, we put together another zine called Habits of the Mouth with art, prose, and poetry from 15 contributors. You can order a copy for $3 by emailing me. We hand-deliver in the Bay Area and will mail copies domestically.


    Released in August 2013, we've still got plenty of copies of our first submission-based zine available. We featured the work of thirteen contributors, collaborated with Sirima Sataman of ink.paper.plate Press to create a letter-pressed cover, and hosted the reading and release party (including a hot tub!) at our friend's house in Soma.

  • The Opposite Of

    A curated collection of poetry, prose, comics, and more, all from contributors that we've never published before. To be released in February 2014, so stay tuned for details.

    You can still order a copy of Habits of the Mouth for $3 and FAULTS for $5 by emailing me. We hand-deliver in the Bay Area and will mail copies domestically.



  • The 18 Somethings Project

    Janet Frishberg and I have partnered together to launch The 18 Somethings Project, a writing adventure. The first one took place in June, when we paired more than 60 people together to write for ten minutes a day and exchange only positive feedback—for 18 days straight. After a lot of warm words about how inspired and empowered the participants felt, we launched the December edition of the project. Same format, new prompts—and this time, open to anyone that heard about it. We paired 106 people together from 36 cities and 5 countries. If you missed the deadline but want to hear about the next adventure, just sign up for our mailing list on the website.

  • Index/Fist

    Lulu Richter and I founded Index/Fist as a way to describe the ladies-that-get-shit-done, but less wordy. A rotating cast of women (and a man, at the beginning!) have been gathering together on (mostly) Monday nights to write, talk, and make zines. We've continued to make zines (see above), host killer release parties and readings, as well as an open writing night. We like to think of ourselves as a creative collective.



  • An Aquarium Made From Fish Soup: Poems

    My senior honors thesis, a creative endeavor advised by professor and poet Yona Harvey. The poems draw upon my international and domestic travel experiences, exploring themes of identity, home, travel, and my brother.

    Want to hear some of the work? Friend Kyle Rood, a Carnegie Mellon graduate of architecture and English, and I discuss my poems and his stories, read aloud, and try to tell a few jokes.

  • Student Speaker, Carnegie Mellon’s 115th Commencement

    I was honored to be selected by a committee of students, faculty, and staff as the student speaker, to share my insights on the Carnegie Mellon experience and its students. You can watch my seven-minute speech, where I talk about how aytpical CMU students are, how the world's biggest problems don’t scare us, and how I found a copy of Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture in India, translated into Malayalam.

    It was a thrilling and memorable experience – I got to process in with a Nobel laureate and the youngest female PhD in the world, and speak directly to my peers, professors, deans, trustees, and thousands of others.

  • Learning Experiment

    In September, I attended the fantastic Railsbridge at Code for America and built a little Ruby on Rails app, where you can add and vote on topics.

Born and raised in a Baltimore suburb, I currently live in San Francisco, where I divide my time between teaching, writing, and editing. A bit of background : after making a few summer forays into the Shenandoah Valley to write down the bones, I studied creative writing and religion at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and adventured to south India for a semester, studying language, religion, and culture.

I graduated a semester early and took off for this foggy city to help people use their careers for good as Net Impact's Communications Intern. After a brief stint in tech recruiting, which included talking to engineers, reading a lot of resumes, and managing social media, I turned to the nonprofit world to help people find jobs at JVS, by teaching workshops on everything from LinkedIn to interviewing.

Other things I've done that I think are neat: helped Boulder-based startup ReWork launch their blog, edited more text than I came name here, and created more than three zines with friends (scroll up for more), and bicycled from Seattle to northern California in less than three weeks.

Outside of work, I roam the city's nearly-impossible hills on my bicycle, volunteer with the San Francisco Bike Coalition as a Bicycle Ambassador, and ponder where to head next.

I'm always open to new projects focused on writing, editing, social media, and content strategy for causes I care about. If you've got a need in any of these areas, drop me a line.

Bragging Rights

One of a handful of AJC Goldman Fellows; my placement was at a human rights nonprofit in Warsaw, Poland for a summer, where I conducted research and collaborated on a grant that was awarded 6,000 Euros

One of the first 25 people selected to be a part of the ReWork talent pool

One of 12 fellows selected nationally of the 2012 Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets

A StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation Fellow, Los Angeles '13