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Kinesthesia Paperback – November 23, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: New Rivers Press (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089823252X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898232523
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,321,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephanie N. Johnson has had numerous publications of individual poems in literary journals, including: Dog Blessings, Crab Creek Review, Water~Stone Review, Massachusetts Review, Low Explosions: Writings on the Body, SASE Wings Anthology, Common Ground Review, Poetry Daily, AGN Online, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and Ice Box.

Johnson as also won 21 awards, grants, and honorariums, including: New Rivers Press MVP, White Eagle Coffee Store Press Chapbook Competition, Minnesota State Arts Board Artist's Inititiative Grant, SASE Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Award, Loft Mentor Series Competition award--Poetry, Academy of American Poets James Write Poetry Prize (Honorable Mention), Gesell Award for Excellence in Poetry, Marcella DeBourg Fellowship Award for Nonfiction, Eleanor b. north poetry Prize, John S. Mikla Memorial Book Award.

Johnson was born in Minneapolis, MN; she has lived in Alaska, and now lives in New Mexico. During the time she wrote these poems, Johnson was also studying alternative and complementary medicine and working as a birth doula.

Customer Reviews

Stephanie N. Johnson is a poet of transformations.
Logan Herold
This is not a long book of poems, but it gives you a taste of the personality of Johnson's written work.
Johnson's poems do not seem to reflect only a certain place in time.
Zach Koppang

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
While some may argue that books of poetry are no longer marketable, the quality of many poets being published by small presses around the country remains untainted by a smaller pool of readers. This is certainly the case for Stephanie N. Johnson and her book of poetry Kinesthesia. As the title suggests, Johnson's collection of poems deftly perceive the relationships between the body--tendons and muscles, especially the heart--and its connections to other bodies. Each poem seems to revolve around how women fit into the world. In some poems the voice of a young girl learning how to survive in society from her mother manifests itself, while older women and sisters and mothers voice their struggles and joys and heartbreaks in others.
Interspersed throughout four of the five sections of the collection are short prose poems that echo Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl." The young girl relays the wisdom her mother has given her and sometimes tells us how she deals with the wisdom. The definition of beauty often creeps up as a theme in Johnson's poems. In one, the voice of a young naïve girl says, "She says her face will last longer if she stays cool...She told me this today because I'll soon be a woman. Mama wanted me to know the truth about being beautiful" (16). In another one, the speaker discovers "where the sweetness is" and it is "these hips and thighs" (86). This simple line suggests an overall theme for this collection: the unique marvels and struggles of women, all shapes and kinds of women.
Besides the poems about young girls, the character of "Nona" is a focus of many poems. We learn that Nona is an older woman whose husband has died, and we get glimpses of Nona at many stages in her life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate H on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
In her debut collection, Kinesthesia, Stephanie Johnson effectively explores poetic form and narrative voice, but her symbolism is overly complex.

Johnson employs a wide variety of form in her poems. Most of the poems are traditional, in the sense that they have stanza breaks and each line begins flush with the left side of the page. However, there are several that depart from this pattern. For instance, in "Tilling the Moon," Johnson uses extra space between some of the stanzas, uses indentations so the lines are closer to the right side of the page, and has one or two word lines and stanzas. Additionally, her line breaks are placed in what would seem to be the middle of a thought. The combination of these formal elements working together change the rhythm of the poem and bring certain lines to the reader's attention in a way that might be lost if it were written in a more traditional form. For example, towards the end of "Tilling the Moon" Johnson writes:

crushed rose and feather
pillows here

-------for you

coppery arms
-------will heal-stitch quilts for you

---------------cloth to cover you
-------a thorn stitched bride

(dashs not in original text)

Visually, this structure highlights the line "for you," which is important because the "you" refers to the character Little Sister and all of this poem's action revolves around her. From there, the next three lines successively move to the right, causing the emphasis to be on the line "a thorn stitched bride" where the reader has to change the direction of the flow.

The collection functions as a cohesive whole because all of the poems seem to be told by the same narrator and most of them appear to be snippets from her life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lacey on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
In the poem that is the namesake of the book, Johnson explains kinesthesia in this way:

"At the sewing machine the body is singing. The mind of the seamstress ignores all signs of thirst, hunger, loneliness. Breathe. This time breathe when you're making the costume.
Sewing machine needle: remind us again of how our bodies chant with threads. Have you ever wondered what it's like to be threaded? It's happening right now, with you and everything in this room."

In Kinesthesia, Stephanie Johnson maps out a story of different women, the narrator, "Nona," "Mama," and "Sister," and the changes they go through in their life. The basis of most of these poems is to explore the narrator's different thoughts and feelings as she is growing up. She reflects and analyzes different pieces of information that have been passed down to her as she has grown up.

In one specific poem, Johnson does a believable explanation of the wide-eyed innocence and naivety of a child, in the poem "Finding Words," which describes a typical day in seventh-grade recess:

"... a seventh-grade boy said that when a girl becomes a woman, her body fills with worms... I wonder what worms taste like, why men are always saying, Mmm, Mmm, I bet she tastes good."

Johnson also reflects how a young child might process information passed town to her from her self-conscious mother, such as in the poem "Size Matters/2." In this poem, you can see innocence in the author's tone, along with a feeling of growth as she compares herself to her mothers' personality sizes up her advice:

"Someday I'll meet a man. Mama says he'll want to size up my heart, so she's going to teach me how to shrink it by eating foods prepared a certain way.
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