Poet/Performer/Artist Caroline Rothstein Coming To Twin Cities

Caroline Rothstein wears many hats. Whether she’s a freelance journalist, poet, artist or performer, she learned that a 9-to-5 job was never going to be her thing.

“I learned early on that I was built to baseline around my art,” said Rothstein.

Rothstein will be bringing her art to the Twin Cities on May 8 and 9 with a variety of opportunities to both see Rothstein perform and participate in workshops with someone that Lady Gaga called “a very inspiring woman.”

“I’ve been an artist since I was a kid, and from there, I feel pretty 50-50 as a writer/performer,” Rothstein said. “If I’m performing too much, I crave writing. If I’m writing too much, I desperately crave the stage.”

Rothstein will end her stay in the Twin Cities on stage at the St. Paul JCC on May 9 at 7 p.m. For this special engaging poetry performance, Caroline will perform a unique set list of original poems and monologues about finding resilience and hope in the wake of challenge and adversity, and she’ll share stories of how Jewish roots and faith ushered her towards perseverance.

On May 8 at the Sabes JCC and May 9 at the St. Paul JCC, each from 1-3 p.m., Rothstein will be running workshops for the community. On May 8 is “Pikuach Nefesh: The Art Of Art – An Artist’s Workshop,” where the workshop for artists is designed to “explore our authentic voices.” This workshop will explore our authentic voices as artists, and what we feel is the soul of our practice. Using Jewish rituals and texts to anchor their journey, the goal is to leave feeling inspired and anew.

The May 9 is a workshop for adults called “Words Create Worlds: Using Art For Social Change,” which offers an exploration of how writing, poetry, and language can be used to help repair the world. Using spoken word poetry and storytelling as a tool, this workshop will celebrate our passions and cultivate a deep understanding of how to most effectively and meaningful share that with our communities and the world.

“Our opportunity to have this engaging and arresting performer as an artist-in-residence is exciting for our entire community,” said Robyn Awend, JCC Twin Cities Director of Cultural Arts. “Her ability to work across different mediums – from performance to workshops, and across different audiences – from kids to adults is so exciting. Her work is called transformative.”

Rothstein said that she works closely with the community she’s visiting to determine the best type of program to put together.

“I work in collaboration with the camp or school to put together programming and it becomes a back and forth about what works best” she said. “In putting on my educator/facilitator hat, I look at how much time I have with someone. You can have self-discovery and awareness in an hour long or two or long workshop. It’s about what’s the goal and who’s the audience.”

Doing her poetry performances, Rothstein said she puts her set list together the same way a musician or comedian would, and always is mindful of the wide range of ages in the room.

“I recently described a set list as “set list Tetris,” she said. “I think the challenge is wanting to provide some kind of experience and catharsis and unique moment for the audience, and I’m really enjoying the challenge of being malleable. But the most important thing is when a community gives me permission, it makes it easier to put a set list together so it feels like a conversation.”

Rothstein said she doesn’t necessarily write intending for a poem to be performed or published. She said about a quarter of what she has written has been shared in a public forum.

“The only person that it matters you share with is yourself. You matter first,” she said. “I have a lot of fun and laugh a lot. People make assumptions that I’m really serious or intense, and plenty of my work can be. But at heart, I’m an optimist. I have a robust sense of humor. It’s important to me that workshops and performances are fun, that we are breathing and laughing together in addition to feeling big things.”

Tickets for Caroline Rothstein’s workshops and performance are available online.