Meet Caroline Rothstein, Spoken Word Poet and Featured Artist at Brushes with Cancer

On Thursday April 10, 2014, New York based spoken word poet and performer Caroline Rothstein will be performing live at Brushes with Cancer.  

Caroline Rothstein is a New York City-based writer, performer, and eating disorder recovery advocate. She has performed and facilitated workshops at poetry venues, theaters, colleges, universities, schools, and organizations around the United States for more than a decade.

Caroline was a member of the 2010 Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam team, which placed second at Poetry Slam Incorporated’s National Poetry Slam 2010. Her award-winning one-woman play “faith” about her experience with and recovery from an eating disorder debuted as part of the Culture Project’s Women Center Stage 2012 Festival.

We recently sat down with Caroline to learn more about her background and her involvement with Brushes with Cancer.  Check out her interview below.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Weiskopf

How did you get started with spoken word?  


I grew up writing poetry and nonfiction, and also performing as a singer, actress, and dancer. My passions were equally devoted to both the page and stage. Then, both while visiting the University of Pennsylvania as a pre-frosh, and then the following year as an enrolled freshman, I saw a student perform spoken word poetry. I thought – that’s it, that’s for me, I can combine all of my passions – writing, performance, and advocacy – in one space, and more importantly, begin sharing my own story, rather than others’ as an actress. Instead of joining acapella, dance, and theater performing arts groups as I had intended, I auditioned for Penn’s newly form spoken word poetry group, got in, and discovered my core and voice as both an artist and individual.

 When was your first spoken word performance?

The most accurate answer is when I auditioned for the Excelano Project, Penn’s spoken word poetry group. I had read my poetry aloud before in high school at an open mic, but my audition for Excelano was the first time I wrote something specifically intending to share it as a performer, not just a writer. I quickly began performing at events all over campus throughout my freshman year, and we had our first full-length show as a group that spring. I belted an angry poem called “My Manifesto” speaking out against the Iraq War and George Bush. I was so angry. I smile thinking about that angry freshman. But I’m glad she had a way to express herself. She cursed a lot. I stopped cursing as much in my poems by my junior year.

Where do you draw your material from?

I draw material from my personal life experiences, the social justice causes about which I’m passionate, current news events, and anything else that sparks a flame of inspiration. Much of my personal narrative work explores my experiences having and fully recovering from a decade-long eating disorder, grief and loss, being a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, and other traumas, as well as love, romance, empowerment, and more. I share my personal story as part of my political ideology to help create justice and change, as well as offer others permission to know they are not alone in their own stories and journeys, and helping others find and embrace their most authentic and empowered selves.

Who are your biggest influencers- in spoken word and in life?

My friends, family, and artistic colleagues are my biggest influencers in both spoken word and life! I am asked this question all the time when touring and performing at college campuses around the country, and the truth is that my spoken word poetry peers and colleagues are my biggest spoken word influences. It blows my mind that I get to sit in poetry venues and rooms with geniuses and call them both my friends and inspirations. In addition to all the influencers I actually know, Marina Abramovic is my spirit animal.

Why are you involved with Brushes with Cancer?

Every bone in my body said “yes” to getting involved with Brushes with Cancer the moment I was invited to be part of the event. I have lost loved ones to cancer, I have watched loved ones lose loved ones to cancer, I have watched loved ones overcome and heal beyond cancer and live. This feels like a way to acknowledge these journeys of both pain and survival in a most powerful and profound way. It is an honor and privilege to work with the Brushes with Cancer community and the inspiring individual with whom I’ve been matched.

How has the matching experience been for you?

I’m so humbled by the matching experience. My match is incredible. His story is beyond inspiring, moving, and visceral. Because so much of my work typically revolves around my own narrative, it is a gift to take a step back as both an artist and person and spend time exploring, honoring, and offering light to someone else’s.

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I can’t wait to see all of the other art!!!

To learn more about Caroline Rothstein’s work check out her website at

Check out Caroline’s newest video entitled “Fat” written and performed by Caroline Rothstein, video by Kira Simon-Kennedy.

To purchase tickets to Brushes with Cancer go to

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