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Cheryl Pallant wins Pollak Prizes for Excellence in the Arts

 Pollak Prizes for Excellence in the Arts


Words

Movement in Writing: Cheryl Pallant

The selectors said: “Author, poet and dancer Cheryl Pallant weaves her three forms together seamlessly in her work, which includes publishing nine books and more than 200 reviews and interviews with dancers, performance artists and others. Her work scintillates through Richmond’s cultural fabric.”

Photo by Chris Smith
Words are not ideas — they help express ideas. Remove the rules, and ideas soar. Remove the rules, and words dance. Cheryl Pallant’s poetry draws power from words freed to break, bend and redefine the rules.

“There’s a lot of wordplay for sure, but from having studied Buddhism for years and from structuralism in college … I’ve developed a facileness with words,” says the New York City native, describing her poetry-
writing style as “agile” and “unpredictable” — like the contact-improvisation dancing that is her other passion. “Words are very pliant, and I tend to make many associative leaps.” 

Her study of Buddhism — and some life experiences that required Buddha-like patience — helped define Pallant. Diagnosed as a young girl with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, she was encouraged by her doctor to cease all physical activity. The supposed cure becalmed her, but stillness and superhuman posture became her new athleticism.
 

 

Read Cheryl Pallant's poetry


She also developed another sort of muscularity to compensate for what looked like the end of childhood play. Writing became her swingset; words became movement.  

While attending college — after an adolescence spent in constant pain caused by her spinal curvature — she finally decided to try movement again, enrolling in a modern dance class. It set her free.  

It also made her a polyglot. As she became fluent in dance, she learned to invent new ways of expressing her thoughts on the page. “I would say … they’re both languages,” says Pallant, who teaches at the University of Richmond. “Poetry makes me aware of the power of image and the power of articulation in words. And then in dance, there’s articulation in motion. They both work with breath. They both work with rhythm.” 
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Check out here book, Continental Drifts here

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