27th Annual Minnesota Men’s Conference

When the Waters Rise: Men and the Work of Renewal

  |   Camp Miller, Sturgeon Lake, MN


As the earth continues its natural upheavals, contemporary men struggle with disasters, social imbalances, persistent stresses, and the horror of multiple conflicts. A cultural wealth of old stories, rituals, companionship, artistic expressions and thoughtful questions would traditionally give men the clues for thriving in the darkness around us, which is deep.

Especially this year we will work together to create a genuine homecoming for troops and veterans, rites of passage for all men no matter what our histories, and reconciliation between veteran and civilian men.

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Robert Bly Miguel Rivera Malidoma Somé John Lee Edward Tick Martin Shaw Daniel Deardorff Tom Gambell Thomas R. Smith Timothy Young Jay Leeming View Full Teacher Details


Camp Miller, Sturgeon Lake, MN

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Event Description

As the earth continues its natural upheavals, contemporary men struggle with disasters, social imbalances, persistent stresses, and the horror of multiple conflicts. A cultural wealth of old stories, rituals, companionship, artistic expressions and thoughtful questions would traditionally give men the clues for thriving in the darkness around us, which is deep.

For twenty-six years men have gathered at The Minnesota Men’s Conferences to look for those clues and patterns as they strive to live with more purpose. Old folklore reminds us that the gifts of nature, in the feminine and the masculine, can bring heat and renewed joy into our lives. According to the Spanish poet Frederico García Lorca, something moist, dark and vital rises from the earth to provide great value for the soul.

Please join us this year as we make room at our table for the returning warrior, for the young man learning to struggle gracefully and for the refugee far from home. As we take nourishment and drink from the earth’s gifts let us share in the healing companionship of other men and search the cumulative experience of those who came before us to find sustenance for soulful living.

Gifted teachers will collaborate and celebrate this year. This year we welcome Dr. Edward Tick, Director of Soldier's Heart, a national not-for-profit working to heal the emotional, spiritual and moral wounds of war in our nation's veterans, their families and communities. John Lee will offer his profound insight into how we can navigate the trouble of regression and men's anger. Mythtellers Daniel Deardorff and Martin Shaw will join us together in a story. Malidoma Somé and Miguel Rivera, with their deep feeling for the indigenous world of nature and ritual, will help us stay connected to these primary sources of the masculine heart. Tom Gambell, with his compassionate, open-hearted Aikido, and Doug Von Koss, with his love song arrows, will engage us in two ancient expressions: the power of movement and the power of song. Timothy Young, Thomas R. Smith, and Jay Leeming will lead us through the forest of words to find our own poems of depth and praise. Robert Bly will hopefully be with us again reading new poems & old poems, and creating mischief as usual from his unique vantage of being an Elder.


At this year's conference we will work together to create a genune homecoming for troops and veterans, rites of passage for all men no matter what our histories, and reconciliation between veteran and civilian men.

We are pleased to welcome Ed Tick to this conference for the first time. Ed has been working for veterans for over 30 years, pioneering the psycho-spiritual restoration and healing of the warrior. He is director of Soldier's Heart and author of War and the Soul.

Special programming for veterans will include:

  • Sweatlodge ceremonies for veterans

  • Concert and songwriting workshop by Iraq veteran singer/songwriter Jason Moon

If you would like to attend the Men's Conference and need financial assistance, please contact the event organizer:
Craig Ungerman at 860-942-1658 (mobile)
or email: hiddenwine@earthlink.net

Our goal is to welcome all veterans with open arms and, if needed, financial aid to help defray the cost of tuition, room and board.

All wounds, stories and experiences are welcome and needed and will be honored.


Robert Bly

internationally recognized and award-winning author and poet, helped found the modern men's movement. He has taught men how to create a home for what is best in them. He inspires both men and women to lead a life of intensity and beauty that brings them together into community.  Robert is a veteran of the WW2 era.

READ MORE: The Wind Isn't Depressed: Robert Bly Talks With Michael Ventura About Art, Madness, And The Joy Of Loss in the Sun Magazine: (Download PDF Article)

Miguel Rivera

a musician and drummer, is a man who is in love with the language of sound. A regular teacher at this conference since 1993 it is always an honor to have Miguel teach drumming, read poetry, and in leading rituals and reaching out to new particpants. We are priviledged to have his guidance for our journey together during this conference

Malidoma Somé

village elder, author, comes to us from the Dagara Tribe of West Africa. He an astonishing teacher, able to bring in ideas almost unheard of in the West. His first book was Of Water and The Spirit, and his latest book is The Healing Wisdom of Africa. Malidoma, as a representative of his village in Burkina Faso, West Africa, and an initiated elder, has come to the west to share the ancient wisdom and practices which have supported his people for thousands of years. African wisdom, so long held secret, is being called on to provide tools to enable us to move into a more peaceful and empowered way of being, both within ourselves, and within our communities.

John Lee

is a leader in raising awareness of men's issues in psychology, psychotherapy, personal growth, and recovery. John's highly innovative work in the fields of emotional intelligence, anger management and emotional regression has made him an in demand consultant, teacher, trainer, coach and speaker. His contributions in the fields of recovery, relationships, men's issues, spirituality, parenting and creativity have put him in the national spotlight for over twenty years. John is the best-selling author of The Flying Boy: Healing the Wounded Man, which reveals why men run from relationships. He has also published fifteen other books on relationships, recovery, spirituality, creativity and anger. John taught at the universities of Texas and Alabama and maintained a private practice and founded The Austin Men's Center in Austin, Texas.

Edward Tick

author of the groundbreaking book “War and the Soul” and founder of Soldier’s Heart, is a practicing psychotherapist specializing in veterans with PTSD. Ed received his master’s in psychology from Goddard College, Vermont and his doctorate in communication from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Ed has been in private psychotherapy practice since 1975 and began focusing on veteran’s issues in 1979. His pioneering work with Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or, in his words, ‘loss of the soul’, is the basis for his recent book “War and the Soul”. He continues his healing work with veterans and other trauma survivors with innovative yet time-honored methods. Ed has extensively studied both classical Greek and Native American traditions and successfully integrates their methods into modern clinical work. A widely published writer, he is also the author of “The Golden Tortoise: Journeys in Viet Nam”, “Sacred Mountain: Encounters of the Vietnam Beast”, and “The Practice of Dream Healing: Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine”.

Martin Shaw

will be teaching from his brand new book 'A Branch From The Lightning Tree: Ecstatic Myth and the Grace in Wildness'. In it he is claiming we are societally addicted to the act of severance and have replaced Longing with Disappointment. This, in turn, creates a defense against our own beauty. For a step towards authentic leadership in men he is suggesting the ancient idea of a 'Road of Solitude and Road of Voice'; a cherising of silence, wilderness and interior listening met with the ability to articulate clearly and passionately the desires of our own lives. With a cluster of Initiatory myths, deft commentary and time on the land, Shaw proposes a 'Culture of Wildness' is possible, indeed vital, for a restoration of soul in men's lives.

Daniel Deardorff

As a gifted singer, musician, and storyteller, he brings the luminous mythological to the conference. Danny Deardorff carries mysteries into a new place. "Myth is a story that tells a sacred truth without the use of facts."

Tom Gambell

Tom walks the warrior path as a practitioner of compassionate self-defense. He is the Founder and Chief Instructor of East Bay Aikido in Oakland, CA. Having taught for more than 35 years, Tom is an insightful guide who, with humor and beauty, assists people in tapping into the power inherent in their own centeredness and presence. His classes emphasize bringing the metaphors of a martial practice into our daily lives as a source of strength and guidance. He is a 6th Degree Black Belt and a veteran of the Vietnam era.

Thomas R. Smith

poet & editor, says of his teaching: "Like many teachers, I teach what I myself would like to learn. Fear causes us to close and shield our hearts. Poetry can be a powerful counterforce to fear, but there is no formula for making it so. Together we explore the way, poem by poem." His books of poetry include: Waking Before Dawn, Winter Hours, The Dark Indigo Current: Poems, Horse of Earth, and he edited the book Walking Swiftly: Writings & Images on the Occasion of Robert Bly's 65th Birthday. Thomas R. Smith is a Master Track instructor at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Timothy Young

poet and teacher, taught at-risk youth in Minnesota before starting The Two Boots Poetry Tour, The Holtby House Concert Series, and Feeding The Story -- ventures which provide live music, poetry and stories in various communities, libraries, and schools. He has been with the Minnesota Men’s Conference in many capacities since its beginning.  In 2003 The Thousands Press and the Minnesota Men’s Conference published his book, Building in Deeper Water.  In 2010 Red Dragonfly Press published his latest book of poems, Herds of Bears Surround Us.

Jay Leeming

is the author of Dynamite on a China Plate, a book of poems published by The Backwaters Press. His poems have appeared in a variety of magazines including Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry East and Black Warrior Review. He has been a featured reader at Butler University, the Omega Institute, Robert Bly’s Great Mother Conference and the Woodstock Poetry Festival, and is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives and teaches in Ithaca, New York.

Doug von Koss

Doug joyously returns again this year to lead early morning chanting. Many participants return to this conference just to begin each day in “one voice” under his guidance. He teaches the vowel sounds as well as chants from the Near East and the West. He has published two CD's and a songbook, and travels widely to bring the magic of voice to communities worldwide. Join for a special tour of Bali each year! Greet the sunrise with him each day in a whirling circle of song!  Doug was a veteran of the Korean Conflict era.


Registration has closed for this event.

Registration has closed for this event.