• Stephanie Heit (author)
  • Gwynneth VanLaven (artist)





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Poetry, Prose, Literary Nonfiction, Women's Studies, LGBTQIA Studies, Disability, Disability Studies, Movement Studies, Dance, LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, LGBTQIA+

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Print Document

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Kin(d)* Texts & Projects
In Corpore Sano

The Color She Gave Gravity

“‘[I]n the slow gestures / of a person adjusting / to too much light’ and with the faith of a chemist, Stephanie Heit sets fire inside her own dark and offers ‘light someone not yet arrived/will understand.’ THE COLOR SHE GAVE GRAVITY is a breathtaking (which is to say, life-giving) book that both stills and energizes by breaking and reforming the unseen bonds of DNA, language, geography, and history.” — TC Tolbert

“Stephanie Heit’s THE COLOR SHE GAVE GRAVITY is a sonorous force field calling on tenderness, care, vigilance and abandon. An all-encompassing clarity saturates mind, spirit, movement and emotion. To locate the blind spot and unburden experience of the horizon’s relentless pressure — this is what the text does tenfold, imparting and dispelling the inexplicable along peripheries and in intimately centered frames of movement: gorgeously evocative and intensely realized capacious psychic flows.” — Brenda Iijima

“Stephanie Heit has choreographed, in her first full-length poetry collection, a deeply engaging articulation of the interplay between mental illness and the creative instinct, history and destiny, and limitation and willful boundary. Here, we have an author brave enough to say ‘I suffer’ and talented enough to excavate the lyrical beauty of that suffering. THE COLOR SHE GAVE GRAVITY offers the reader a textured view of a graceful body torn between trying to remember and trying to forget.” — Airea D. Matthews

“In these fierce, moving poems, we witness a self as it seeks its right path through those landscapes we call world. We are taken along, wandering through urban streets or across beaches that once were lakes, sometimes dreamily, sometimes searingly awake, digging through stories and years. These poems enact one of our most potent human gifts: our ability to find ourselves tumbling, falling down, standing up — in proprioceptive relation to everything in our earthly realm.” — Eleni Sikelianos

THE COLOR SHE GAVE GRAVITY traces longing for connection between women. An ecopoetics of the bodymind, these poems take us inside a dance inside an imaginary city inside sculpted spaces inside the insomniac body inside sister grief inside she. The work emerges from a landscape of somatic engagement and by experiences of psychiatric systems and multiple hospitalizations.

About the Contributor(s)

Stephanie Heit is a poet, dancer, and teacher of somatic writing, Contemplative Dance Practice, and Kundalini Yoga. She lives with bipolar disorder and is a member of the Olimpias, an international disability performance collective. Her debut poetry collection, THE COLOR SHE GAVE GRAVITY, was a Nightboat Poetry Prize finalist. Her work most recently appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Typo, Streetnotes, Nerve Lantern, QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, Spoon Knife Anthology, Theatre Topics, and Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her partner and collaborator, Petra Kuppers.

Cover Photo: "Crossing Visible" by Gwynneth VanLaven.

Gwynneth VanLaven (she/theyis an artist and educator whose practice includes photography, installation, writing, performance, and social engagement. VanLaven received her BA from Knox College in Multimodal Language: Verbal Visual, and Kinesic Systems (an independent, cross-disciplinary major) with a minor in photography.  In 2010 she received her MFA from George Mason University in Critical Art Practice, also a multimodal course of study. VanLaven taught visual thinking, aesthetics, and new media art at the School of Art at George Mason University, until recently relocating to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Gwynneth’s visual and written works have been shown in numerous exhibitions and publications including in The Washington Post and Performance Research, and at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center. In addition to her solo art practice, VanLaven works as a part of The Floating Lab Collective, a group of artists dedicated to social engagement and activism through interactive and inclusive art, working with local, national, and international scope.  Gwynneth presented reflections on a Floating Lab project to the 2014 Association of Art Historians Conference at the Royal College of Art in London.

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