Coming your way in November!
How Time Moves:
New and Selected Poems
by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
*Register HERE to join Caryn for her virtual book launch event!
How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems brings together over 30 years of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg's poetry on what it means to be human in a particular place, time, body, history, and story. "She is our teacher speaking from the sky, from the field, from the heartland," writes Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford. "Like William Blake’s 'doors of perception,' these pages lead readers inward and outward at once," Denise Low, past poet laureate of Kansas, says of the new poems. The collection also includes poetry from Mirriam-Goldberg's previous six collections: Following the Curve, Chasing Weather, Landed, Animals in the House, Reading the Body, and Lot's Wife.
"In How Time Moves, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg offers us a magical gift: a compilation of new and selected poems, rich with memory and meaning. 'Expect to be startled,' the poet tells us. And we are," writes poet Joy Roulier Sawyer. Poet Patricia Traxler adds, "This is the real work of a poet—to see and speak the often-hidden truths of a human life in a way that enlightens and informs." Poet Diane Suess points out that "True to its title, time is a paramount issue in these poems—not simply its passing, but its potential, in complicity with imagination, to invent and resurrect the future."
The new poems include a special section on pandemic time, exploring how the nature of our hours, days, and months change during this unprecedented era in our lives. Mirriam-Goldberg is a wise and warm companion, leading us into more vivid sight and keen insight into the times of our life, and how time tumbles across generations, landscapes, callings, and questions. As she writes in the introduction,
"We don't just inhabit place: we live in time, a human construct of how we order the world as well as the ecological ground of how seasons shift, weather migrates, and the cycles of birth, age, death, and renewal unfurl. I used to think I was primarily writing about place until it occurred to me that my poetry constantly grapples with what time is and how it moves. Like all of us, I live in the place called time, and that place—a field within the field—is dizzyingly diverse and deep, made of stories and histories, callings and yearnings, hard-won wisdom and pure mystery. What does it mean to live in time? I circle around the fire of that question through my poems, gravitating toward what light and heat I glimpse."
How Time Moves: New and Selected Poems (ISBN 978-1-7342477-2-5) is available to order from the Meadowlark Bookstore and through all online and traditional book outlets.
|Author Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg|
"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is a generous and insightful poet, brave in her candor and ever awake to the world around her, ready for all the truth it can offer her each day. In Mirriam-Goldberg's poetry, even cancer becomes epiphany, an occasion of ecstatic awakening. This is the real work of a poet—to see and speak the often-hidden truths of a human life in a way that enlightens and informs. In the cumulative power of her new and selected poems, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg accomplishes this with grace, insight, courage, and unceasing wonder."
~Patricia Traxler, author of Naming the Fires
"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg admonishes us: 'All the songs you love will return like an old cat. // Expect to be startled.' Believe her. How Time Moves is the glimmering songbook of her poetic oeuvre—a single volume containing a book’s worth of new work in four chapters along with choice excerpts from each of her previous six poetry volumes. Here, time becomes both particle ('…the brown bricks chipped / by time and the stress of lasting') and wave: 'The friend you love is all ashes now / waiting for you and others to scatter. // The ideas you have about time or what’s right / are lighter than all that ash.' Amidst the tumult of time's flow, there are also introspective interludes: 'Place a wintered leaf / of your old thoughts / on a flat rock. Wait. // Watch what the pine, an arrow / of desire for the sun, does with time…' It is the universality of time’s passage joined with the specificity and intimacy Mirriam-Goldberg uses to illumine and delineate her own times that make this a rare book to cherish, a consummate gift of grace.'
~Roy Beckemeyer, author of Mouth Brimming Over
A Sampling of Poems
The dog goes out. The cat comes in.
Daffodils so early, and a day later,
sleet clinging to their surprised ruffles.
The ceiling fan spins. Purple redbuds
dissolve the prevernal tangle of green
into anticipation and rain.
I can’t remember in my safe bed
what I dreamt or why my girlhood
chest trembles in its 60-year-old skin.
Tomorrow, I will bend low to where
lily-of-the-valley finally matches time,
which is not time as I knew or embellished
but its own flock of red-winged blackbirds
flashing fire over the wetlands
where I arrive again every few days, weary
of my own mind’s compost pile, to wander
at least six feet away from children not going
to school, parents not going to work,
and dogs not going to sleep on the couch,
all of us casting our wishes on the power
of water, the possibility of flight.
Around the world, pandemic time
sings at the speed of urgency down
one corridor to the E.R. or in a hut
on the edge of one village,
all weighted in the quiet bones
of those who cannot gather
around the dying, the dead, the grave
that cannot yet be dug
in the place we never expected
for him, for her, for them.
The female cardinal, faded orange,
all alarm, strikes her parade of notes,
each tone dressed alike and looking
for its match somewhere in the field.
A flame the size of a finger tip
on the one candle still burning
at Shabbat service, then,
“Oseh Shalom, Oseh Shalom, S
halom alechim vachlem yisrael,”
Jack and Susan singing while
we three sing with them,
one square out of 18 on Zoom,
striking the match of our song
somewhere in the forest.
It’s 2:13 a.m.
or is it? Who
cooks for you,
calls the barred owl,
Who cooks for you now?
No one, I speak aloud.
No one at all, answers
the dark blue sheen
and smudged starlight
landing, after thousands
of years, here,
on this window pane.
At the edge of the yard somewhere in Lithuania,
she takes it all in: the white bark of the forest,
the dark vertical shadows, the tall field between here
and horizon. Wind rises from the banks
of trees and rushes everywhere, reminding her t
o lift her chest, inhale sharply, remember.
Who will come after her, and then what?
Will the grasses part the same way in tomorrow's weather,
the leaves sing their breaking song, the air hold
the weight of the world evenly around each being?
Is she the first or the last to hear the ending world?
From years ahead, I wait for her to turn into the future.
When she does, her face catches the late light,
and she sees me, sitting cross-legged on a wooden floor
in Kansas. What is there to say from there to here
that would help? A cow walks through a parking lot,
a peacock screams, all of us far from oceans, wars,
the urgency of living in a world on the cusp of vanishing.
My great-grandmother doesn't know she will die
in that very spot facing away from soldiers and fire.
How most of this village will face the gun or the gas chamber,
quickly or slowly in the camps or holes in the ground,
little space to think the best, last thought.
The air she exhales falls off the earth, like the sun
tonight and every night. Her surviving children
will spread like water on hard ground that softens over time,
so far from her view at the edge of the yard.
All she knows is the cleansing light of the wind,
the moment her life balances before her,
the way love can shelter itself as a dark bird not-so-hidden
in the birches, ready to exhale from the leaves
that keep remaking themselves and the breath
from her body that will one day be my body.
No One Tells You What to Expect
A downpour as you're running down Massachusetts Street
in sandals that keep falling off in unexpected puddles.
Ice on power lines. The dying who won't die,
then a single bluebird dead in your driveway.
The deadline or lost check spilling the orderly papers.
The part that isn't made anymore for the carburetor,
or the sudden end of chronic sinus infections
while walking a parking lot unable to find the car.
Your best thinking won't be enough to save your daughter
from a bad romance or your friend from leaving the man
she'll regret leaving. Across town, in a quiet gathering
of maples, someone drops to her knees in such sadness
that even the hummingbirds buzz through unnoticed.
The dog gone for days returns wet and hungry,
the phone call reports the CT scan is negative,
and your husband brings you a tiny strawberry,
the first or the last, growing in your backyard.
Life will right itself on the water when the right rocks
come along, so let the bend tilt you toward
what comes next: the bottoms that fall out,
the shoes that drop, the wrong email sent
while a cousin you lost touch with decades ago
calls, his voice as familiar as the smell of pot roast.
All the songs you love will return like an old cat.
Expect to be startled.
About the Author
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of two dozen books, including Miriam's Well (a novel), Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body, and Following the Curve, poetry. A teacher for the Transformative Language Arts Network, she offers online classes, coaches people on writing and right livelihood through the arts, and consults with businesses and organizations on creativity. Caryn facilitates Brave Voice: Writing & Singing for Your Life retreats, workshops, and performances with singer Kelley Hunt, and she leads Your Right Livelihood, a training on doing the work you love, with storyteller Laura Packer. She is also a roving scholar for Humanities Kansas and the Osher Institute. She teaches widely on writing for vitality and discovery, and facilitation for community and change. Caryn makes her home with her husband, bioregional writer Ken Lassman, in the country south of Lawrence, Kansas, where they restore tallgrass prairie and try to keep up with dogs, cats, and visiting adult children. She writes often on the porch, immersed in wind and birdsong.
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