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Kinesthesia Paperback – November 23, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 0.2 x 6 x 9 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: #4,119,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephanie N. Johnson is a poet of transformations. Throughout Kinesthesia, Johnson carries the reader through moments of transformation in a woman's life, embodying the spirit of child, grandmother, mother, and daughter, at times simultaneously. Johnson takes us through five different sections in her book, each part chronologically depicting parts of a woman's life and the relationship of mothers, grandmothers, and daughters. The transformative moments present in this book give Johnson's poetry life, allowing each piece to slice open the our chests, grab hold to our hearts, and soften them with their grasp.

Through her impeccable use of conversational language, Johnson's poems speak the burden of past lives and the failures and desires of parents in her poem "City of Stomach, City of Throat":

Sometimes I feel you, stomach,
in my spleen.

This isn't the American spleen I'm talking about.

It's the emotional channel

where I hold my father's pain,
the unfathomable wishes never turning true.

And my mother and grandmothers --

they sleep upright
in my throat. (11)

Here Johnson is speaking of the stress individuals feel when they carry their parents' burdens. She channels the pain, the emotional wounds, of a demanding father and speaks for the speaker's mother and grandmothers who did not use their voice and were subject to the same pains and emotional scarring.

Johnson's poems gain strength by appealing to the root of our emotions; to get at the meaning of her poetry, we, as readers, must let down the emotional guards we build up to protect our hearts and become vulnerable to each piece.
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Format: Paperback
Just as kinesthesia recognizes motions of the body, Stephanie N. Johnson's book of poetry follows the hands, mind and feet through female thoughts and needs. Centralizing around the figures of "Nona," "Mama," and "Sister," in addition to herself, or the speaker, Johnson explores the advice passed down through generations, as well as the insights and curiosities of a young woman maturing.

Throughout Kinesthesia, Johnson's poems vary from prose poetry to set stanzas to open forms. She recognizes the way words move in each form, and assigns each accordingly to their peak rendering of sensation. Poems such as "Blunt Helix," "Tilling Season," and "Geology" are part of the particularly strong second section of her collection. Both "Blunt Helix" and "Tilling Season" follow three line stanzas, part of the equal numbered stanzas which are prominent in Johnson's poetry. The lines are not self contained and easily stream from one stanza to another. Thus, the poems have a nice flow to them. One may question what determines Johnson's line and stanza breaks, however, because the lines don't necessarily fit the form. One cannot deny that Johnson knows how to spin an analogy, though. The full analogy of a woman as a machine in "Tilling Season" is rich and new. She makes readers ache for someone to tend and care for their own "machine" as they grow older and are saddened as "Tilling Season" leads into "Geology" where the speaker is forlorn and alone.

The strength of "Geology" lies in well placed questions and uneven stanzas. When Johnson uses uneven stanzas, she also tends to use severe line breaks and enjambment which allow for richer meaning in the poem. As stated before, however, readers will occasionally question what sets her line breaks.
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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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