top of page
Blue Sky

Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust

Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter

Beat the Odds and Found Each Other

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

A Kansas Notable Book Winner

Available at University of Nebraska Press


Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other highlights the astonishing stories of two Poles—a Holocaust survivor, Lou Frydman, and a Polish resistance fighter, Jarek Piekalkewicz, both teenagers during World War II who each defied outrageous odds, lost everything and just about everyone in the war, and yet summoned the courage to create a new life. Frydman survived six concentration camps and three death marches. By the end of the war, everyone in his extended family had been killed except for his brother and himself. Piekalkewicz started his own underground army at age sixteen. Frydman and Piekalkiewicz found each other in 1975 in Lawrence, Kansas, where they became best friends, forming a bond made of the trauma and courage embedded in each man’s experience.

Needle in the Bone offers a fresh approach to the Holocaust and the Polish Resistance by entwining the stories of two survivors. By blending extensive interviews with Frydman and Piekelkewicz, historical research, and the author’s own responses and questions, this book provides a unique perspective on still-compelling issues, including the meaning of the Holocaust, the nature of good and evil, and how people persevere in the face of unbearable pain and loss.

"Needle in the Bone is the powerful tale of two young men’s courage, heroism, heartbreak, and survival during and after the Second World War. Both Poles, one man survived six concentration camps and three death marches, while the other was a Resistance fighter who, at age sixteen, commanded his own underground army of 100 men. Lovingly conceived, exhaustively researched, and beautifully written, this book is a magnificent achievement that not only provides important insights into the Holocaust and the Resistance, but also documents the indomitable will of two extraordinary men." ~ William Tuttle, author of “Daddy’s Gone to War”: The Second World War in the Lives of America’s Children.

"Needle in the Bone is a compelling, story of two Poles—a Jewish resister who survived the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz, and other Nazi atrocities, and an Underground fighter who fought and survived the Nazi regime.Author Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg weaves in her own story as a Jewish American, adding valuable context and insights into the lives and experiences of Lou Frydman and Jarek Piekalkiewicz. Mirriam-Goldberg, a skilled interviewer, draws out their life stories, and that of their wives, Jane Frydman and Maura Piekalkiewicz. The two couples paths cross on a Fulbright in Poland, and they return to Kansas, becoming close friends and entwining their lives.In the hands of the author, we come to know the Frydmans and Piekalkiewiczs, and to better understand America and ourselves as Mirriam-Goldberg reflects on their lives, her own life, and the America in which the two couples live.It is a very American story of survival, new beginnings, hope and laughter in the face of horror, and faith in human goodness. You can’t resist liking and caring about Lou and Jane, Jarek and Maura, and Caryn Miriam-Goldberg".~ David Katzman, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, University of Kansas

"With a poet’s eye for beauty among the ruins, Caryn Miriam-Goldberg has crafted a contemporary tale of two different men with a history of woe in common.  A welcome addition to literature about the Holocaust, and a reminder that good sometimes does survive and prosper." ~ Leonard Zeskind, author of Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

"Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg has crafted a beautiful, moving story about the lives of two survivors of World War II, both of whom ended up at the University of Kansas where they became close friends. The way she was able to blend both life stories into a seamless whole, her personal involvement with her subjects, her exhaustive research about Poland and the Holocaust during the war, and about the misconceptions of Polish anti-Semitism are truly impressive. Needle in the Bone should become required reading in any World War II or Holocaust history class. It is world history at its finest." ~ Andrea Kempf, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

Everyday Magic: Field Notes

on the Mundane and Miraculous

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg


Meadowlark Press,  2017

Cover art by Daniel Lassman & Ken Lassman

Buy your copy through Meadowlark Press here, and Amazon.  

Also available at the Raven Bookstore


Everyday Magic features the best of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s blog of the same title, exploring the mundane and miraculous unfolding around us, and how to live with greater verve, meaning and joy. Journey through whimsical, tender, and fierce explorations of travel and homecoming, beloveds and the art of loving, grief and resilience, the arts and politics, spirit and being a body, and many other glimpses of being all-too-human in an astonishing world. There are tributes to Pete Seeger, Mexican food, bathrooms, Bruce Springsteen, playing the cello, alleyways,  Laura Nyro, making the bed, civil rights, the wonders of tea, wild weather, installing a new toilet, Mary Chapin Carpenter, mothering hacks, and staying put in a community.

"Many thanks to Caryn for these beautiful lessons in living, really living from a poet laureate who reminds you of your best friend. It’s wonderful to feel so deeply inspired by a world that feels so deeply familiar." ~ Dar Williams, Singer-songwriter, and author of What I Found in 1,000 Towns

"Like Da Vinci, Caryn is in love with the world, knows its many ways, excels at all she does, and captures the hidden emotion behind what she studies. Those gifts and skills manifest in volume in this collection of essays, where Caryn meditates on her world in all its daily-ness. Miracles are to be found everywhere, and Caryn finds them and pins them to the page. My world opens up, when I read these. Yours will too." ~ Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017-2019, All That Jazz

"Enter the amazing world of genius writer Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg as she ruminates, rejoices, revels, and reflects. Her book Everyday Magic is a passport to her remarkable life as mother, wife, daughter-in-law, friend, professor, community leader, and writer. The author’s Wells Overlook homestead becomes as familiar as my kitchen table when I read scenes from her rocket-speed life." ~ Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-2009, author of Turtle’s Beating Heart

“It’s not just a body, it’s an adventure,” is the title of one of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s essays on the exceptionality of the everyday. This body of work is an adventure—not necessarily the roller-coaster-ride variety, but one of the turning of the moments of a life into opportunities for introspection, for sharing, for recognition that this instant in time is truly meaningful and lovely and deserving of notice. That Mirriam-Goldberg is a poet is evident here. Nothing gets by her, and she turns her observant eye to herself and those around her so lovingly that as we read we feel ourselves becoming a part of her community of friends and loved ones." ~ Roy Beckemeyer, author of Music I Once Could Dance To

“'Listening to another means learning a new language,”' writes Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. This former poet-laureate of Kansas is absolutely present in the world. This book is an invitation to join her in a celebration of mundane moments illuminated by her loving presence. Wrap yourself in a warm embrace of words." ~ Sherry Reiter, PhD, Director of The Creative Righting Center, and Poetry Therapy pioneer

"Once I read the first piece in this book, I couldn’t stop. Each piece is a window into a room in the author’s mind, each so enticing that I wanted to see the next room, and the next. This house is a well-lived-in home, filled with compassion, honesty, wit and humility." ~ Doug Lipman, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for storytelling, National Storytelling Network

The Sky Begins At Your Feet

A Memoir on Cancer, Community

& Coming Home to the Body

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Ice Cube Books, cover art by Joan Foth 

For a signed copy, please send $24 (book + shipping)

to Caryn at Venmo at Caryn-Goldberg-2

and email Caryn your mailing address

Starred Review Library Journal  and Midwest Booksellers Best Pick


“I cannot figure out who I am as a body these days,” writes Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg in this powerful, tender and humorous memoir about resiliency and love in the face of cancer. Mirriam-Goldberg braves breast cancer, the breast cancer genetic mutation and the loss of a parent by connecting with an eclectic Midwest community, the land and sky, and a body undergoing vast renovation. Along the way, she swims with stingrays in the Gulf of Mexico, searches for cream puffs for a Pennsylvania funeral, leads a group fighting to protect ecologically-essential land in Kansas, and helps students find their own voice in Vermont. In searching for a new definition of the erotic through our awareness of nature, this memoir illuminates how our bodies are our most local address on the earth.

"Looking in and looking out, poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg makes connections between cancer and our world-out-of-balance, between language and healing. Written with honesty, compassion and surprising humor, The Sky Begins at Your Feet reports Goldberg’s journey as she navigates through the landscapes of illnesss, and in the process reveals much about the healing potential of writing ourselves whole. ~ J. Ruth Gendler, author, Notes on the Need for Beauty and The Book of Qualities

"The Sky Begins At Your Feet is as personal as a missing bosom and as expansive as the holy earth. In this sensuous, trenchant memoir, the poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg shares the life she lived and the truths she found as she, enfolded in family and community, confronted breast cancer and carried on. Real, wise, and wry, it’s a treasure." ~ Stephanie Mills, author of Tough Little Beauties and Epicurean Simplicity

"The Sky Begins At Your Feet is a powerfully honest and inspiring story about facing our ultimate fears and surviving. Mirriam-Goldberg’s account of her personal journey – and of the unique community that gathered around her – will stay with you after you close the pages of this book." ~ Katherine Towler, author of the novels Snow Island and Evening Ferry

"Given the way illness can dull our capacity to attend to even our most basic needs, The Sky Begins at Your Feet gives a reader, with startling clarity, what Buddhists call a kalyan-metta, a spiritual friend for that journey. Mirriam-Goldberg, with a poet’s attention to detail and a reporter’s determination to get to the real story, offers us a deep consideration of the way illness and her response to it, awakens her — and could awaken us — to a whole range of connections: community, family, the natural world, body and the mysterious inner landscape of being human on this earth." ~ John Fox, author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-making

"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg contributes to the invention of a new genre of medical non-fiction – narrative medicine. The narrative is well written, rich, poignant, entertaining, tragic at times, uplifting, sad, and triumphant – all that we want in a great story. I recommend it for anyone, but especially for health professionals who need to experience the other side of breast cancer. For the medical audience, it’s definitely a must read." – Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., author, Coyote Medicine and Narrative Medicine

Poem on the Range: 

A Poet Laureate’s Love Song to Kansas

By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg


Coal City Press, 2014, cover art by Stephen Locke

Purchase through Coal City Press, $10


A memoir, travelodge, and praise song to the power of poetry and place, this vibrant book is an enticing read and delightful journey into what gives our lives greater meaning and courage. Read about how a poet laureate, while navigating divisive state politics that threaten the arts, brings together writers from across and beyond Kansas to celebrate the liberating power of what we can create together while also shining a light on the tender beauties and surprises right here in our own backgrounds.


Along the way, Mirriam-Goldberg features the poetry or porse of Dick Allen, Thomas Fox Averill, Roy Beckemeyer, Allison Berry, Elizabeth Black, Walter Butts, Jyce DiDonato, Steven Hind, Nancy Hubble, Kelley Hunt, William J. Karnowski, Maxine Kumin, Denise Low, Ramona McCallum, Ronda Miller, Karen Ohnesorge, Al Ortolani, HC Palmer, Shawn Pavey, Matthew Porubsky, Kevin Rabas, Elizabeth Schultz, Leah Sewell, Bill Sheldon, Victoria Sherry, Betsy Sholl, Marilyn L. Taylor, Lisa Starr, Roderick Townley, Wyatt Townley, John Willison, Laura Lee Washburn, and Israel Wasserstein.

"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg has written a terrific love paean to Kansas. In the process she’s taken us from joy to near despair to joy again, telling us—often with rapturous description and always self-depreciating humor—the story of how she and fellow Kansans lost and then saved the state’s Poet Laureate position. The book is laced with sumptuous travel descriptions of Kansas’s hither and yon. And there are black squirrels, highways stretching to the horizon, outstanding and readable poems scattered in just the right places, as well as the kinds of people who give you the shirts off their backs. Poem on the Range is a needed guide for all those who work for the arts. It’s a gift to all who glory in a place they’ve made home. I’ve always loved Kansas, but Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg will make any reader love Kansas more."  ~ Dick Allen, Connecticut State Poet Laureate, 2010-2015, and author of This Shadowy Place 

"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is our poet warrior. With passion, grit, and humor, she hews an unpredictable path from Jersey girl to Kansas Poet Laureate and beyond in this engaging memoir, itself a tribute to the art (and politics) of poetry."   ~Wyatt Townley, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2013-25

“Our weather keeps everything in perspective, like it or not,” says former Kansas poet laureate, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Poem on the Range describes with joy the miles Mirriam-Goldberg covered barn storming for the art, and offers a sampling of poems by Kansas poets she met along the way, as well as poems by poets she met across state lines." ~ JoAnn Balingit, Poet Laureate of Delaware

"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s voice, in her new memoir, is jaunty, belying the serious nature of her subject matter, a rather heroic effort on her part to shepherd the Kansas Poet Laureate position through a period of limbo following our governor’s defunding of the arts in Kansas. Caryn’s easy prose, along with a wealth of poems from Kansans and others, chronicle her time as Poet Laureate in an informative and enjoyable read, one which underscores the true value of art beyond the poor efforts to monetize it."  ~ Bill Sheldon, author of Rain Comes Riding

"Poem on the Range is the uplifting literal and metaphorical journey taken by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg during her tenure as poet laureate.  Filled with anecdotes, poems and beautiful descriptions of her beloved state, it is at once a celebration of place and the poetry and poets that weave it together. Only someone with her spirit could have kept the poet laureate office alive and well during the dark days when the Kansas Arts Commission was dismantled by the acting Governor.  Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s indomitable spirit shines through on every page of Poem on the Range. What a gift."  ~ Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate

Blue Sky
bottom of page