Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Faculty on Leave of Absence, Goddard Graduate Institute
Residency Site: Plainfield VT



Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-2013 Poet Laureate of Kansas and author of 20 books, including collections of poetry, memoirs, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust, a novel, and anthologies of poetry, and essays on Transformative Language Arts and Progressive Education. Founder of Transformative Language Arts (TLA) at Goddard College, and a long-time organizer in the bioregional movement on the local and continent levels, she is active in the TLA Network and bioregional groups. She leads community writing workshops on healing, making and keeping community, connecting with the earth, writing and living with serious illness, intergenerational and community storytelling, and writing from mythology. With singer Kelley Hunt, she leads Brave Voice writing and singing retreats, and co-writes songs. She and her husband Ken Lassman work with cooperative businesses and non-profit groups on group process, better meetings, navigating conflict, and building community. She is a traveling scholar with the Kansas Humanities Council, and the University of Kansas’ Osher Institute. She regularly presents readings, talks, keynotes, and workshops throughout the U.S.


PhD in English (Poetry, Feminist Studies, Mythology), University of Kansas
MA in Creative Writing, University of Kansas
BA in History, University of Missouri

Certifications and training in Poetry Therapy, Yoga Teaching, Grassroots Organizing, and Facilitation and Consensus

Areas of Expertise

Transformative Language Art; Bioregionalism; Ecofeminism; History of the Holocaust; Creative Writing (Contemporary and Traditional Poetry, Memoir, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Songwriting); Facilitation and Consensus; Yoga Practice and Philosophy; Grassroots Organizing; Organizational Development; Community Building; Spirituality and Religious Studies (Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism); Career Development and Right Livelihood; and Expressive, Integrative and Collaborative Arts for Individuals and Communities

Personal Statement

All my life, I’ve been at home most among trees, fields and skies, and I’ve been in love with the wind. I take my cue from the earth, and specific to where I live, the tall-grass prairies of Kansas (a great place to be immersed in wind), and the understanding that our vitality is interwoven with the earth’s. As a long-time bioregionalist, writer, workshop facilitator, grassroots organizer, and teacher, I find my work often involves creating and holding loving places for people to gather, find courage, and trek into the wilds of their lives. As founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, I’ve worked collaboratively with many students, faculty and alumni on transformation through the written, spoken and sung word. I believe in committing fully to our places and passions, learning from the materials life gives us, and cultivating spaciousness in our hearts, minds, bodies and communities.

My inner-Goddard is accompanied by fine companion-work: I write in a menagerie of genres (memoir, poetry, fiction, songs, essays), and I’m a roving workshop facilitator, teacher, and scholar, giving frequent workshops, readings and presentations. Since 2003, I’ve regularly facilitated workshops for people living with serious illness, and I work with many populations and do quite a bit of collaborative work. I also bring my experience in community organizing (labor unions, community groups, social services, and bioregional groups) into reaching and working with people.

I love working with students who are drawn to the question of how to live, including:

  • Writing and Creativity: How can writing and storytelling work as ecological and spiritual practices, and how can creating collectively reweave community? How can making something be a way of healing and knowing? I know what my students and workshop participants know all through my body: writing and creating is hard and holy, mysterious and ecstatic, puts us on and over the edge, sends us on adventures and brings us home.
  • Bioregionalism: How can and does place inform identity, life calling, community-making and simply feeling utterly alive? How does place relate to embodiment, health, and community? I’m fascinated with building and keeping community and eco-community.
  • Facilitating Expressive, Embodied & Collaborative Arts: How can we effectively facilitate others immersing themselves in the arts (including yoga) to help us wake up to the lives we’re given? What do we need to know about the ethical and embodied dimensions of doing this work?
  • Spiritual/Religious Practices: What is life leading us toward and through? As a Jew with Buddhist leanings who teaches yoga in the bible belt and resonates with animism, I’m interested in how culture, experience and mystery shape such beliefs, knowledge, and ways of knowing.
  • Right Livelihood (the Buddhist term of making a living in ways that serve community and calling): What is our work, and how do we enact it? I also love the nuts and bolts of marketing and business planning, conversing with our callings, and sustaining self-care while growing vision.
  • Group Process/Organizational Development: How do we live, work and create with each other? How do we make real and sustainable change?

Although I began my life in Brooklyn, and grew up there and in New Jersey, I followed I-70 west to Lawrence, Kansas, a fierce and gentle place where men stroll downtown in chartreuse evening gowns, friends make giant teapots on wheels for parades, artists decorate their gardens with festively-painted bowling balls, and lilac, the local foods movement and basketball abound. I live in the country with my husband, the writer and naturalist Ken Lassman, indoor so-called domesticated animals, and outside, deer, coyotes, occasional cougars, many spiders, compost-eating crows, and a very big sky full of endless entertainment.

More on me at


  1. The Divorce GirlIce Cube Press2012
  2. Needle in the Book cover
  3. Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (editor)Woodley Press2011
  4. Landed: New PoetryMammoth Publications2009