Poet, artist, and cultural worker invested in the transformative, restorative, and change-making capacities of imagination and creativity.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Caits will continue to contribute to our culture’s understanding of poetry and the living word. She models precisely the kind of poet who can make things happen, not only for herself, but for those around her."
— Patrick Rosal, author of Brooklyn Antediluvian
Caits Meissner is a New York City-based writer, multidisciplinary creator and educator. She is the author of the illustrated hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016), and The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You (Well&Often, 2012), co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock. The recipient of multiple artist residencies and fellowships, including the BOAAT Writers Retreat and The Pan-African Literary Forum, Caits is widely published in literary journals including The Literary Review, Narrative, Adroit, Drunken Boat, Public Pool, and The Offing. She has taught, consulted and co-created extensively for over 15 years across a wide spectrum of communities, with a special focus on imprisoned people, women and youth. Caits holds a BFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York. Caits currently serves as the Prison and Justice Writing Program Manager at PEN America.
the whole story
Caits Meissner is the author of the hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016), which features illustrations, comics and extensive writing prompts, and The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You (Well&Often, 2012), co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock. The recipient of multiple artist residencies and fellowships including the BOAAT Writers Retreat and The Pan-African Literary Forum, Caits is widely published in literary journals including The Literary Review, Narrative, Adroit, Drunken Boat, Public Pool, and The Offing. Caits holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, where she was awarded The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing, an Educational Enrichment Award and The Teacher-Writer Award.
A multidisciplinary creator, Caits experiments with writing's relationship to visual art and sound. She holds a BFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute and creates comics, zines and other illustrated material. In 2010 she released an album, the wolf & me. Erykah Badu called her blend of poetry and music, "Fresh, honest and loving," with "a delicate heart like mine." She has appeared on songs and in performances with musicians including Jesse Boykins III, Blu, Rabbi Darkside, Maya Azucena, Honey Larochelle, Knxledge, Eagle Nebula and Breez Evahflowin.
With a significant history in community arts, Caits was an integral team member in developing programs for organizations such as Tribeca Film Institute, The Bronx Academy of Letters, Urban Arts Partnership, The Facing History School and The Lower Eastside Girls Club. She has taught, consulted and co-created extensively for over 15 years across a wide spectrum of communities including public schools and youth programs, college classrooms at The New School University and The City College of New York, prisons, jails and reentry programs, disability support and advocacy programs, and needle exchanges [see LinkedIn for more details.]
From 2012-2014, Caits ignited the #GrowFierce community, an intensive writing course supporting women in exploring artistic expression and profound self-examination. Caits and her team served over 500 women worldwide in the guided online engagement that matured into State-sponsored cultural exchange in Malaysia, live youth and prison programs, and a series of public events.
In 2017 Caits reenvisioned the concept of book tour, pairing public speaking engagements with opportunities to work with incarcerated writers on The Humans That We Are Prison Poetry Tour — an effort that received social change grants from The Pollination Project and the Puffin Foundation, as well as an honorable mention for Split This Rock's 2017 Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism.
Caits currently serves as the Prison and Justice Writing Program Manager at PEN America.
recent recogniton, honors & awards
Finalist, The June Jordan Fellowship
Columbia University (2017)
The Teacher-Writer Award
City College English Department Awards (2017)
Honorable Mention, Split This Rock
Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism (2017)
Art & Social Change Grant Recipient
The Puffin Foundation, West (2017)
Social Change Leader Seed Grant Recipient
The Pollination Project (2016)
BOAAT Writer's Retreat (2016)
Educational Enrichment Grant Recipient
City College of New York (2016)
Awarded Artist Residency
Drop Forge & Tool (2016)
Awarded Artist Residency
Turkey Land Cover Foundation for Women (2016)
The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing
City College English Department Awards (2015)
(Click here for recognition, honors & awards before 2015.)
*Press related to publications found on their respective pages.