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Bodies in Motion

Bodies in Motion

By Joseph MillsPublisher: Press 53ISBN: 978-1-95041340Genre: PoetryPrice: $17.95, paperback

The poems in Bodies in Motion, the seventh collection of poems by Joseph Mills, offers a look at our relationship to dance, from childhood through adulthood, "To consider life as a dance is to hope / that there is a choreographer who has / some sort of vision, and an audience / who appreciates the effort." 

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills holds an endowed chair, the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities and was honored in 2017 with a UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has published seven collections of poetry with Press 53, including Exitpursued by a bear, which consists of poems triggered by stage directions in Shakespeare. His book This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family. In the spring of 2019 he published the fiction collection, Bleachers. More information about his work is available at www.josephrobertmills.com.


Bodies in Motion roves the sprawling terrain of the body and its adventures in wonder, love, boredom, misfortune, and mortality. Painting dance as a multiplicity of actions and longings, beginning with a small detail, an expression of the everyday, only to reveal something about the quirks of the universe. Overall, Mills offers the reader a roadmap by which to consider their own lives in movement: where they’ve been, where they are, and why every life lived dancing is one worth talking about.

Cara Hagan, artist/scholar

Mills introduces dance as the set design for a rich life. I felt these poems in my bones, muscles and connective tissue. I am remembering my sixteen-year-old self again, back in the joy and awkwardness of the St. John’s Prep high school gym, the music blaring as my friends and I swayed and grooved, longing to be noticed but also delighted because the dark made us feel invisible too. Mills’ poems reveal the unexpected moments of feeling glorious and alive and help us remember that these moments are often when we dance.

Christina Soriano, Dancer, Choreographer, Wake Forest University Associate Provost for the Arts and Interdisciplinary Programs

Bodies in Motion is connected by poems about dance but artfully twirls between characters doing the funky chicken in the kitchen to dancing The Nutcracker on stage to a gym packed with shuffling adolescents. It steps back and forth in time with the movements of black holes in the universe, George Washington, Charles Dickens, wedding receptions, parents and their families, dance classes, Hollywood musicals, and more. Regardless of how many left feet you may have, you’ll enjoy the show.

Matt Mason, Nebraska State Poet and author of I Have a Poem the Size of the Moon