At breakfast at the Swedish Country Inn in Lindsborg, Kansas, someone said she liked my tiny gold Dala horse necklace. It took me a moment to realize that the C'hai -- the Jewish symbol for life, luck, the auspicious number 18, and also the Hebrew letter C'hai -- looks just a little like the Swedish Dala horse, a symbol of Swedish hospitality. I explained the C'hai to her, then dug into some Swedish meatballs, pickled herring, and rye bread. Ken and I having decided to spend some time in this charming town after a gig in equally lovely Glasco, Kansas, [...] Read More
Another visit, another time to sort tools It started with gerunds, a grammatical term for verbs that end in "ing." To write directly and precisely, writers are supposed to avoid gerunds, Uncle Ron read in a tiny newspaper article that he clipped and sent to me. He wrote me that when next we met, we needed to get to the bottom of this gerund business. That was well over 30 years ago, and get to the bottom we did, along with picking up what we found at the bottom and tossing it back and forth over [...] Read More
"Me, too." I was 19, and I knew it was sexual harassment, but there was nothing I could do about it. He managed the movie theater where I worked concessions, and after I refused to meet him a little apartment he had on the side -- one his wife knew nothing about -- he drastically cut my hours. He knew I needed the job to pay rent and feed myself, so he kept pressing. I kept saying no. Soon I was down to one short shift a week, but at least I knew why. But my [...] Read More
I'm perched on this lovely porch on the last day of the year, at least the last day according to the Jewish year, which ends at sundown. The wind and crickets thread sound through the Osage Orange tree, leaning over the driveway with its heavy hedge apples (think lime green brains the size of grapefruit). A few hummingbirds dive-bomb each other on the aerial path to the feeder. I'm comfortable in a hideous chartreuse recliner with iced coffee within reach. It's just another beautiful edge-of-summer day in Kansas for me, but for many it's far more heartbreaking and threatening. I [...] Read More
Late last night, as I sent my novel Miriam's Well to my wonderful publisher, Steve Semken of Ice Cube Press, I reworked a summary of this 500-plus page book that's been at the heart of my writing life for 13 years: In this modern day retelling of the biblical story, Miriam wanders the political and spiritual desert of a changing America, torn between her roots as the Jewish daughter of a Black father and white mother, her yearning for home, and her brothers, Aaron, a successful New York City attorney, and Moses, a Kansas autistic artist. An astonishing cook and [...] Read More
You can drive a long way in Kansas and never leave the state, like 340 miles west from my home to western Kansas, and still be a ways from a state border. That's just what I did to give a Kansas Humanities Council talk on wild weather in poetry, photography and our lives at one of the great community jewels-of-a-library, Pioneer Memorial Library (astonishing array of programs for all ages, and even a coloring night!) The trip was fueled by coffee, of course, plus, because I'm trying to give up my M&Ma-and-Cheetos road trip habits, an entire box of Nut [...] Read More
A few days past the Great American Eclipse, I'm feeling my way through the sheer joy, possible meanings, and wild vitality of this experience. An eclipse holds and moves through many metaphors as the moon moseys toward, on top of, and past the sun, showing us new angles of light, and re-making the sun into a crescent-moon-shaped force. Day turns to night in a flash, shushing the birds and revving up the crickets. Shadows play out in unusual ways, framing light in winks, slivers, and crescents. The human world, at least many of us whether near totality or not, stops [...] Read More
Yup, this is the photo that will wrap around the book cover. Thanks to Daniel and Ken Lassman for taking it together. My posts are fewer and further apart at the same time that I've been thinking about this blog more than ever. That's because I've been working on Everyday Magic, the book based on this blog. As with most things, it's more work than I imagined, but a lot more fun too. The first phase was wandering through over 900 blog posts to figure out what top 250 or so posts should make it into [...] Read More
Our local food co-op, the veritable Community Mercantile, just celebrated its marvelous school garden project at West Junior High School and the person who founded the project and has given so much to our community over the last 25 years, Nancy O'Connor. When Rita York, general manager of the Merc, asked me to do a toast, that toast turned into this poem. Nancy has inspired me for 30 years, not just about the beauty and vitality of a good carrot or ways to roast vegetables to make them irresistible. Her dedication to weaving together community, and feeding everyone in the [...] Read More
It is 12:04 a.m., and I"m writing this from our back deck where I sit cross-legged in a chair and stare up at two enormous trees. The wind pours wave after wave through the tree to my right, Cottonwood Mel, and the moon rises through the the branches and thick leaves of the tree to my left. I should be sleeping perhaps, but instead, I'm letting the wind bathe me free and watching the stars above and the lightning bugs below. It's a time of big endings and beginnings for me, and the confluence of all, plus some misguided coffee [...] Read More
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, a collection of 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.
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