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. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. Caryn leads writing workshops widely, offers one-on-one writing coaching, 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

March 3, 2018 - 12:00pm
Transformative Language Arts Network, video conference
March 17, 2018 - 11:00am
Turning Point: The Center for Hope & Healing, 8900 State Line Rd.
Leawood, Kansas
April 28, 2018 - 4:00pm
Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
Lawrence, Kansas
April 28, 2018 -
Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation, 917 Highland Ave.
Lawrence, Kansas
May 6, 2018 -
May 12, 2018
White Memorial Camp
Council Grove, KS
June 2, 2018 - 2:00pm
The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave
Kansas City, MO
June 2, 2018 -
The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave
Kansas City, MO
More Events

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In-Between Time: Everyday Magic, Day 929

Between terminals in Detroit

Yesterday was an in-between day taken up with driving, flying, walking long underground vortexes of color and sound, flying some more, and a whole lot more driving to go from Lawrence, Kansas (aka Center of the Universe) to Plainfield, Vermont (aka Another Center of the Universe).

On such days, I try to be present for what sweetness might lurk in travel tensions, plus I’ve learned a few tricks from making this trip back and forth to Goddard College residencies over 40 times in the last two-plus-decades. I pack high-quality apples, a sturdy supply of magazines, a few good books (this time I’m re-reading Elizabeth Erdrich’s marvelous memoir, Miriam’s Kitchen), some energy bars (the kind that aren’t exactly candy bars but don’t taste like dog food either), antibacterial stuff to wash the seat-back tray in the planes, and a tiny Ipod-thingie with soothing music I can blast at 30,000 feet. I also have all manner of sinus remedies because planes can shake up a gal’s face some, and candied ginger for too much turbulence.

Transitions turn green

When the announcement at the airport says crazy things, like yesterday’s “Sorry, folks, but we’ll be delayed boarding the plane because the heater is broken, and it’s only 2 degrees in there,” I sigh, eat my salad early (having learned it’s a bad idea to eat too-rich food before being flung through space at 500 mph), and catch up Facebook. When my pal picking me up is so engrossed in conversation with me that he drives down beautiful country roads instead of aiming for the route to get us toward the college, I take photos of what I see along the way, including the most daunting sun dogs (my photos don’t do them justice) I’ve ever spied.

Once unloaded in the dorm, back out to the Wayside Diner for down-home goodness, and back to the dorm room, I morph into old routines of putting the socks and underwear in this drawer, piling the two mattresses in the room on top of each other for a higher and firm bed, and draping scarves here and there to brighten up the big blank room. Most of us who teach here have our assorted furniture-moving and, for the ones who drive, rug-unfurling habits to make our home for the next 10 days homey.

But in the middle of it all — a middle that extends from leaving the house at 8 a.m. and trying to shake off the dim or sparkling travel dust at 1 a.m. when I’m still friggin’ awake — there’s that in-between time, still potent with its varied nuances of color, light, temperature, and texture.

The current view, plus don’t stand under icicles

Truth be told, it’s always this way: we’re in between who we are and who we think we are, where we imagine we live and the real earth and sky we actually inhabit, the meaning of the work or relationships we inhabit and the greater mystery beyond meanings we label and box up. Landing is a continual process in travel and in life.

Making Stuff Up From Mrs. Potato Head to Eat the Earth: Everyday Magic, Day 928

My cohort in making stuff up What to call a fictional women's collective running a potato farm in Moab, Utah in my novel Miriam's Well? What else but "Mrs. Potato Head" (yes, the Mrs. instead of Ms. is an ironic touch, which fits the women's sense of humor). Likewise, when naming a L.A. non-profit organization that trains inner-city teens to grow and cook  their own food, Miyako the cat and I came up with the name "Eat the Earth." Because this novel retells a biblical story, that of the Exodus but from Miriam's point-of-view and set [...] Read More

The Secret Lives of Old Quilt Tops: Everyday Magic, Day 927

I find them irresistible: hand-sewn old quilt tops dreaming of a real  life, a little like the Velveteen Rabbit before someone loved him to death (and rebirth as a real rabbit). Although I don't possess the super power of finding a parking spot on Massachusetts Street at lunch time, I do have a knack for glimpsing incomplete quilts hanging on the back of a folding chair in a thrift store, or slung over a clothes line at a yard sale. If they're not moth-tattered to shreds (have plenty of those quilts already at home), the colors please me, and the price is [...] Read More

Swirling Distractions of Winter Birds: Everyday Magic, Day 926

A dizzy of starlngs The starlings grabbed my attention while I was pacing the living room on a phone call. They poured diagonally down to the lawn, fanning out to bop and dip on the winter grass, then swooshed around to thread through the branches of Cottonwood Mel on their way to the bare mulberry branches. Meanwhile, a dozen or so fluffed-out-to-maximum-roundness robins rock on the branches of the cedar tree outside the kitchen window. When I return to the bedroom, it's chickadees and junos all the way on our deck railing because of the bird [...] Read More

First Lightning of the New Year: Everyday Magic, Day 925

Spring doesn't bounce in for months as a long-term resident at the inn we call Kansas. Instead, it struts its stuff in flashes, quite literally right now, like a famous actress who does occasional cameos in February and especially March, and sometimes on rare evenings even in January before vanishing suddenly for the main actors of snow, ice, and mostly cold, dry wind. The thunder comes rumbles to east, the lightning flashes irregularly in the southwest corner of my window, and the air is full. I open the door and inhale that sweet sense and scent, just on the icy [...] Read More

Get Your Copy of Miriam's Well!

And help me bring Miriam's Well: A Modern Day Exodus, my forthcoming novel full of music, meals, and miracles to you through a book tour across the United States. You can get your copy of the novel hot off the press (signed and at a discount), bundles of books, or even poems or a song written for you at the Indiegogo Campaign.

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.