Caryn with her administrative assistant, Shay

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is a poet, writer, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. Author of more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, memoirs, and anthologies, her most recent and forthcoming publications include Miriam's Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, embodied poetry. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. Caryn leads writing workshops widely, offers one-on-one writing coaches, and roams the prairies as a visiting scholar. Sign up for Caryn's newsletter, and receive a monthly pithy e-newsletter with a writing prompt, featured writer, and news of upcoming workshops, events, and readings. Click here.

Upcoming Events

December 16, 2017 - 1:00pm
Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing, 8900 State Line Rd.
Leawood, KS
Please call 913-574-0900 to register.
January 11, 2018 - 7:00pm
Transformative Language Arts Network, video conference
January 20, 2018 - 4:00pm
Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore, 1122 Commercial Street
Emporia, KS
May 6, 2018 - 4:00pm
May 12, 2018
White Memorial Camp
Council Grove, KS
June 7, 2018 - 4:00am
October 12, 2018
Unity Village in Kansas City MO, Goddard College in Vermont, and your home!
More Events

Birds of Many Feathers: 10 Eagles, 100 Swans, 100,000 Snow Geese: Everyday Magic, Day 920

I thought it was a bust, but the boon just hadn’t happened yet. We  wanted 100,000 snow geese, but just saw a handful of eagles, and 100 swans, still beautiful and magnificent, but after years of considering the long drive to the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge to catch the snow geese in migration, I was a little disappointed. Where were the geese? Somewhere for sure, but not where we were.

Eagle in the tree

Until they were. Nearing an oxbow to cross the Missouri river into Nebraska, then turn left and go south back to Kansas, right near a small RV neighborhood, largely deserted, a cloud of birds spun up and around, white in the sunlight and black in the shadows. We stopped the car, rolled down the windows and heard the multiplied low barking song of 100,000 or so snow geese.

With minutes, we rushed to the end of the oxbow, iPhone in my hands, and camera in Ken’s, as we took videos and photos, and laughed ourselves into crying about how gorgeous and amazing this spinning cloud of birds was. Eventually, the birds settled back on the water, and we headed back to the car to drive around to a closer view of the birds on the other side of a railroad bridge. Once there, we stood on the deck of a small dock and watched them, an island of snow geese un-forming and re-forming its edges into two long strips, joined bird to bird in the middle.

Swans in the field

As we got into the car and checked our photos for a few minutes, even with the windows closed, the noise of the snow geese roared to life again. A train was crossing the bridge, and the birds circled up and around again. I ran to the shore, stopping every so often to take a photo, then at the edge of the water, a video of their song and spin.

It happened by choosing the longer way home on blue highways instead of the fast-food-edged highways that would speedily deliver us back. It happened by chance and luck. It happened because one of us looked the right direction at the right moment. Then again, it was happening continuously, sometimes over a million snow geese converging and hanging out in this area at once in early December when the weather, water levels, and wind were right.

Geese in the Sky

Both of us, after two weeks of enduring some crazy virus that wiped us out and sent us through half a dozen boxes of tissues and a whole lot of cold medicine and Netflix, had decided to simply go while the weather of this area and our health was clear enough. Although I’m still a little under the weather of the virus, I’m a lot over the moon and back from seeing, hearing, and being in the presence of such vibrant and ancient grace.

If this writing speaks to you, get a copy of Caryn’s new book, Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculousbased on over 10 years of this blog. Details here.

Here’s a video of the birds on and off the water:

Hawking Books Wherever the Wind (and Car) Take Me: Everyday Magic, Day 919

Ding Dong, luna moth at your door. I've learned over the years that it's never a mistake to drive around with a bookstore in a rolling suitcase just in case, and that's especially true when there's a new book in the house (and car). Everyday Magic, landing under the UPS tree in a big pile as if dropped by a passing spaceship, is stepping out and waving its friendly arms at people. In the last few days, I've hauled over two dozen books (and they're big and heavy, over 400 pages each) to the post office to mail, [...] Read More

Mending Old Quilts: Everyday Magic, Day 918

A growing pile of old quilts has been staring at me for months, and in the last week, I finally succumbed to the call of the fabric. You see, these quilts held us and our history for so many years, and to see them tattering away without a fight was just wrong. Yet for a long time, I couldn't figure out what to do to mend the torn squares or disintegrating borders of color and texture. Some might say to toss quilts with dozens of tears in them, but each quilt, just like each life, has its own story.  Woody [...] Read More

In Gratitude for Neil: Everyday Magic, Day 917

Neil, bottom left, last Hanukkah In memory of Neil Salkind, who died today. We sat at a small table in La Prima Tassa on a spring day filtering sunshine across our table, sipping tea and updating each other on our children. “Hey Pal, the thing is,” Neil said, “I want them to be happy. My job is simply to love them. That's what we do as parents: we love them and want them to be happy.” I had just been inventorying my long list of anxieties about my kids when Neil's words stopped me in my [...] Read More

The Peace of a Late Autumn Day: Everyday Magic, Day 916

It's almost balmy although this late afternoon is quickly tipping toward dusk. The leaves are strangely still attached to trees around town but mostly in clumps the cold snap, hard rain, or big wind haven't yet tipped over. Although we bought a frozen turkey to begin thawing for Thanksgiving, here I am sitting on the front porch with only a light sweater over my yoga clothes. It's an unusual autumn moment, but also oddly sweet in its spaciousness and quiet. One of my and maybe your ongoing problems with fall as well as spring -- especially in these regions where [...] Read More

Connect with Caryn

Subscribe to Caryn's Newsletter: Receive a pithy newsletter each month with a writing prompt, featured writer, and news of upcoming workshops, readings, and happenings. Click here.

Read Caryn's Words in Everyday Magic, her blog, essays and interviews, and books of poetry, fiction, memoir, and anthologies.

Join a Writing Workshop: Caryn bi-monthly retreats for people living with serious illness (as patients or caregivers) through Turning Point in Kansas City, wild weather workshops through the Kansas Humanities Council, and many other offerings. More here.

Come to an Event: Caryn teaches classes through the Osher Institute, leads talks and book discussions through the Kansas Humanities Councils, and speaks, reads, and meets with people widely. See more here.

Find Your Brave Voice: Join Kelley Hunt and Caryn for their annual Brave Voice: Writing & Singing for Your Life retreat each May in the glorious Flint Hills of Kansas. More here.

Coach with Caryn: Caryn offers coaching on writing, the writing life, and right livelihood. More here.

Create Your Own Right Livelihood Through the Arts in the Transformative Language Arts Network's Right Livelihood Professional Training with Laura Packer and Caryn, launching June - October, 2018. More here.

Earn Your MA at the Goddard Graduate Institute where Caryn and other fine people teach, guiding students in self-designed, low-residency (study from your home community, and attend two week-long residencies each year) degrees in Transformative Language Arts, Health Arts & Sciences, Social Innovation and Sustainability, Consciousness Studies, and Individualized Studies. More here.

Bring Caryn to Your Community: Have Caryn present a workshop, talk, reading, or collaborative event in your community. More information here.

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