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  • Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Changing the World with Words: TLA Foundations // with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

  • 15 March 2023
  • 25 April 2023
  • Online
  • 11


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This thorough introduction to Transformative Language Arts (TLA) encompasses the personal and the global, the contemporary and the historic, and how TLA can be practiced through writing, storytelling, performance, song, and collaborative, expressive and integrated arts. We will also explore ethics and considerations for practicing TLA through facilitation, coaching, teaching, and more, with special attention to diversity and inclusion when it comes to bringing more voices to the table.

Each week includes short readings, a lively discussion, and invigorating writing prompts to help you articulate more of your own TLA callings. The weekly writing prompts and pertinent discussion questions give you room to work and play through what you know, are coming to know, and how this knowledge cross-pollinates with what you do and who you are. Websites, videos and/or podcasts, and essays to engage with, bring you face to face with you real-life expressions of TLA as this field, profession, and calling grows around the world.

This class is also required for TLA Foundations Certification.

To order a copy of The Power of Words: A TLA Reader (required text for class), please scroll down. 

Week by Week

Week One: TLA History, Fields, and Traditions

An overview of theory and practice, including genres, arts and community practices, ethics, and your own values informing your TLA. Explore TLA in many forms–from poetry therapy to social change theater to healing storytelling–and share what ignites your soul and work. We’ll also look at how we see ourselves in our TLA work and callings and how we’re likely to seen in various communities, and the essential role of self-care in our TLA work and as core to TLA practice.

Week Two: TLA in Service: Health, Healing, Spirituality, and Personal Growth.

We’ll explore how TLA can help people find their way home through health or emotional crises or wounds, spiritual callings, and many manner of personal growth. Starting with the personal, and recognizing how the personal is political, we look at ways in which TLA can foster health, healing, and homecoming, and also some of our cultural biases and blindnesses about such directions. Some of this week’s resources will help us see more of the breadth and depth in how TLA can be effective in various religious and spiritual traditions, mainstream and holistic healing practice, and home-grown and psychological counseling as well as for people living with disabilities or serious illnesses.

Week Three: TLA as Catalyst: Community, Culture, History, and Social Change.

We’ll look at TLA in relation to community-building, culture-shifting, history-revisioning, and social change, and particularly explore what it means and can mean to be part of various communities. To better understand the time and place where we live now, we’ll also explore TLA as a vehicle for diversity and inclusion, including addressing oppression, marginalization, privilege, and access. Additionally, we’ll look at what it means to practice TLA in ways that foster a community ethic of care (as well as supporting individual self-care).

Week Four: TLA & Right Livelihood: Ways to Make a Living and a Life.

What are our callings for how we make a living and how we live a life? We’ll dive into how TLA intersects with our life’s work (whether that work relates to a paycheck, volunteering, creating art or writing, or other aspects of our life), and develop plans for where we’re led to go. We’ll draw from the Buddhist roots of the term “Right Livelihood” to better understand how we can forge good work that makes a positive contribution to our communities and lives.

Week Five: TLA in Action: Facilitation, Consulting, Collaboration, Coaching, and More.

Looking at the ethics and facilitation of our work, art, and community involvement, we’ll discuss and write about the specific forms of TLA we do and want to do, and how strong facilitation of TLA – whether in the form of community meetings, writing workshops, collaborative storytelling or theater projects, or one-on-one coaching – requires us to lifelong students of the art of facilitation.

Week Six: TLA and You: Plans, Visions, and Maps.

Deepening our plans for the work, art, and community-making ahead, we’ll clarify what’s right for us to pursue next, what support and tools we need along the way, and the future envision. This week will focus on what resources and pathways are around us, and how to best discern our own best ways to move forward.

Who Should Take This Class

This class is ideal for a wide variety of people, including professionals who want to infuse TLA into their teaching, counseling, pastoral work, arts collaboration, and community work; community leadres and activists seeking to bring more voice and vision to the table in their communities; and writers, storytellers, performers and other artists who want to develop their facilitation of writing, songwriting, expressive arts, drama therapy and community theater, collaborative arts, storytelling, and integrated arts; and perspective or current students or alumni of TLA studies.


This is an online class which will be taught via the online platform, Wet Ink. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend a minimum 4-6 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together. We will also have two optional 40-minute Zoom sessions at 7 p.m. CT/ 8 ET/ 6 p.m. MT/ 5 p.m. PT on Thurs., March 23 and April 27 (sessions will be recorded just for class participants).

Required Text: The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Janet Tallman. You can purchase the text on Amazon.

Supplemental Text: Transformative Language Arts in Action, edited by Ruth. A. Farmer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. You can purchase this text on Amazon or Rowman and Littlefield

About the Teacher

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, PhD is the founder of Transformative Language Arts, the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. A beloved writing workshop facilitator and writing and Right Livelihood coach, she offers writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness, adults in transition, humans looking for greater connection with the earth, and poets and writers seeking their most courageous voice on the page and in their lives. She loves life-giving collaborations, including YourRightLivelihood.com with Kathryn Lorenzen, Bravevoice.com with Kelley Hunt, and TheArtofFacilitation.net with Joy Roulier Sawyer. She offers weekly “Care Packages for a Creative Life” through her Patreon pageand her long-time blog, “Everyday Magic” at CarynMirriamGoldberg.com.

Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives. For over three decades, Caryn has worked with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff or board member, and consultant on collaborative and community arts, group process, and better meetings. She lives in the country on land she and her husband, ecological writer Ken Lassman, have put in a conservation reserve and are restoring as prairie and woodlands. See more at www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.com

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