Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, is a poet, writer, and founder of Transformative Language Arts, who writes poetry, fiction, memoirs, and songs. She offers workshops and writing coaching, and roams the prairies as a visiting scholar. She's pictured here with her administrative assistant, Shay.

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You can help create more transformative writing, workshops, and a new podcast series on the power of words. Please consider supporting my Patreon campaign for as little as $3/month. In return, you receive cool perks (books, poems written just for you, and more), early access to my new work, and weekly inspirations to spark your creativity.  More here.

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Connect with Caryn

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

Coach with Caryn: Caryn offers coaching on writing, the writing life, and right livelihood, and finishing your book.

Create Your Own Right Livelihood Through the Arts

Check out the Transformative Language Arts Network's Right Livelihood Professional Training with Laura Packer and Caryn, July - Oct., 2019.

Write With Caryn: Attend a workshop, online class, or "A Leap Forward Workshop."

Come to an Event: Come to a talk or reading around and beyond the Midwest, including Osher Institute and Humanities Kansas events.

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

Find Your Brave Voice: Join Kelley Hunt and Caryn for Brave Voice: Writing & Singing for Your Life retreats.

Catch Caryn's Newsletter: Read The Writing Life for a monthly writing prompt, and news.

You As a Poem (for Denise Low): Everyday Magic, Day 973

Last week, I had the honor of being one of the poets giving tribute to Denise Low, the past Kansas Poet Laureate and dear friend of 35 years. She was celebrated at the Spencer Library as a new part of its New American Poetry collection at a special event that also happened to occur on her 70th birthday. While one poem, even while full of references to Denise’s splendid writing, doesn’t do her justice, I wanted to share the poem I wrote for Denise. You can see much more about her at her website, on her blog, on the Map of Kansas Literature site, at Poets.org, and at the Poetry Foundation.

You As a Poem

for Denise

The poem would rise from fossils and columbarium

time-traveled from your memory or the continent’s,

through two ancient gates, rusting in the sun after hard rain.

 

You would watch the poem from behind a window,

your grandfather’s calm breathing behind you,

as you sipped a mocha from a chipped porcelain cup

painted with twining white clematis and one ruddy robin.

 

The poem would feed you a small butter cookie, shaped

like a shell to remind you of the inland ocean we once were,

while you listen as you often do for what the snow

or heat or first explosion of lilac sings now.

 

Later, the poem would take you and Tom to Wisconsin,

in January, in a near-blizzard of course, telling you stories

about the taste of bear or what dreams lived in ice.

 

There would be a woolly mammoth, but because Kansans

excel at elegant understatement, it wouldn’t be obvious,

but a silhouette of the great beast on the western horizon,

only visible when lightning strikes.

 

Like the sky, the poem would spin torrents of fish,

speed, and spirits breaking the drought tides into rivers,

many underground that your walking feet would trace

while you sip wine and regard the sky for what matters,

which once was a dog named Burroughs, low to the ground

but functional, and lately encompasses Jackalopes

and your granddaughter’s face turning toward you.

 

Maybe a martini would mosey into the poem, and certainly

trains at 3 a.m., leaving their whistles echoes as evidence.

There would be wind-leaning switchgrass, and a circular

silence below a solo cottonwood on a ridge of your childhood.

 

Mostly, though, there would be birds: stanzas of the quick

blue fire of Indigo Bunting, an exodus of wild geese,

a charm of goldfinch, and at dusk, a tunnel of chimney swifts

spiraling down to to a single word on each rooftop —

all the birds, you too, from so far away and so near,

coming home all the time, line by line by line.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Please consider supporting my Patreon campaign so that I can create moretransformative writing, workshops, and even a podcast series on the powerof words. More here: https://www.patreon.com/Carynmg

Back at the Cancer Rodeo: Everyday Magic, Day 972

Self-Portrait With Rainbow & New Cancer Diagnosis When I had breast cancer 17 years ago, I learned some things about resilience, the ability to bounce back. There's nothing like being thrown off a bucking bronco to discover that yes, you can hit the ground, hard, and yes, you can hobble back to your feet and strength. There's also nothing like community and all the love that made me upright again, then fed me homemade soup at regular intervals. In 2002, I discovered I had breast cancer, lymph node involvement, and also the BRCA 1 genetic mutation [...] Read More

A Snake, A Wedding, and Faith: Everyday Magic, Day 972

Somewhere in Brazil a bunch of people stopped their car on a highway, got out, and signaled other drivers to hold off so that a very large snake could cross the road. When I saw the video, I was amazed at how calm and calming the humans and, to some extent, the snake were in doing what it took for the snake to arrive at the other side. It also made me happy to see members of my own species, known for how often we get it wrong when it comes to the more-than-human world, get it right.  Such moments [...] Read More

The Power of Blossoms: Everyday Magic, Day 971

Emily Dickinson writes, "I started early -- Took my dog." In my case, I started late and took my croissant, and unlike Dickinson, I wasn't looking for mermaids in the basement of the ocean or fleeing from the silver-tongued tide. Nope, I was savoring one flowering tree after another, that and buttery layers of flakey wonder. Each spring, I hit the pause button on my life at some moment, and if I'm smart, many moments, and head out into the neighborhoods to worship at the fleeting faces of magnolia blossoms. Some weeks later, after the frost has zapped those magnolias [...] Read More

Unexpected Graces: Everyday Magic, Day 970

Maybe it's the late landing of spring, the convergence of personal history and life lessons, or just chaos and good timing, but I've been tripping into unexpected graces lately, small or big moments that surprise me with such joy, connection, beauty, even something akin to healing. On our trip to Brooklyn, New York City, and New Jersey -- aka the mothership for me -- grace abounded, often like a slip of paper or wings at the edge of vision. The moment we emerged at a new subway stop for us in Brooklyn, staring blankly at the sun after eight hours [...] Read More

Upcoming Events

May 19, 2019 -
May 24, 2019
White Memorial Camp
Council Grove, Kansas
June 1, 2019 - 7:00pm
The Raven Bookstore, 6 E 7th St.
Lawrence, KS
June 26, 2019 -
May 30, 2019
Online class you can do from wherever you are!
August 28, 2019 - 6:30pm
The Story Center, 8900 NE Flintlock Road
Kansas City, MO
September 21, 2019 - 10:00am
Private home near Lawrence, KS (directions will be sent to you)
Lawrence, KS
September 25, 2019 -
December 14, 2019
Scottsdale, Arizona and online and by video
Wherever you are!
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