The Book

the Emperor Has a Body - Body Politics in the Between

The Emperor Has a Body Book Cover Elise's bio... Claudia's bio... Constance's bio... Brigid's bio... Valerie's bio... Viviane's bio... Mary's bio... Lucy's bio...

Authors of the Spiral Arcs*

*AKA chapters within the workbook

Poems by the Authors

Elise Peeples

My experience and interests lie in four main areas: psychology, philosophy, diversity/political work and mediation. My training includes a BA in psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio; a Paralegal Certificate from the Institute for Paralegal Studies in Philadelphia; and an MA in philosophy with a Certificate for Teaching Critical Thinking from San Francisco State University.

In 2010, I graduated from the Sound, Voice and Music program at the California Institute for Integral Studies. I am currently the Executive Director of Art Between Us, Inc., a non-profit corporation and the director of Sound Rivers, a company founded to champion the vibration of the didgeridoo through teaching, sound healing and ritual.

I am the author of a memoir: When Things Happen to People: the Field Beyond Good and Bad (Eshu House Publishing, Berkeley, CA 2011; Strands, a novel;The Speed of Love, (2013) a poem in words and photos and The Emperor Has a Body: Body-Politics in the Between. Just as my life has followed intersecting trajectories in the psychological, philosophical and political, so too is The Emperor a mediation among those realms. I am currently working on two novels that will extend the philosophy started in The Emperor.

I am the third of four preacher's kids. In 1988 I married Adam David Miller, a teacher and distinguished author of three books of poetry. We live in Berkeley, California.


Constance Hester

I have had a wide variety of jobs during my working life but for the last 17 years I have worked for the Alameda County Superior Court as a Probate Court Investigator. I have been writing for most of my life and wrote a newspaper column for several years when I lived in Beaverton, Oregon. About ten years ago I started writing poetry and have had many poems published in various literary magazines and anthologies. I have written a novel, The White Mask, and am now seeking a publisher.

As to my personal life, I have been divorced for twenty years, and have raised two sons and have two granddaughters. I enjoy reading, writing, swimming, keeping abreast of the political scene, and working with groups of other writers to publish anthologies and improve writing skills.

Between Friends

an energy field flows
between    you   and   me

i can nearly see the particles dance

they move back and forth

part of    me   to   you
   part of   you   to   me

your joy my sadness
   my temptations
     your thoughtfullness
my anger your peace

there are you
sitting on a stripped couch

here am i
sitting in a yellow chair

we are in the midst of spiraling
shimmering particles
like dust motes bouncing
in sun light

there is a Between
  unique    richer    deeper
than either   you   or    me

i can nearly see the particles dance

Constance Hester
November 14, 1999


Viviane June De Leon Bias

I was raised with a fine appreciation of nature by both my parents. My mother Florence showed me the world of lush and sweet smelling flowers through her green thumb, while my father John constantly showed me the way of animals by all of the puppies, rabbits, chickens, and ponies that he brought home.

I was raised in the California Bay Area. For the past 11 years I have worked as an Acupressure practitioner, teacher, storyteller, singer, musician. During the last 7 years I have become quite involved in studying and making herbal medicine. I have studied with Kami McBride (Vacaville, CA) and Robin Madrone Martin (O'LaLa farms), creator of High Sierra Herbal Adventures.

I have involved myself in many important causes and projects, such as Redwood Summer in Northern California and as a program coordinator for Mujeres Unidas, a diversity and spirituality retreat in 1994 (attended by over 100 women).

My love of nature, children and animals sustains my spirit and allows me to give in my most creative way. I come to this project with a strong desire to bring others into experiencing the green world.


Lucy Colvin

I have explored the relationship of creativity and self in its many languages since childhood when I learned to play piano, saxophone, flute, guitar and drums; took ballet and modern dance; numerous theatre classes and wrote poetry and children's stories.

After dropping out of the University of Minnesota to "learn from life," in 1984 I returned to Western Washington University to design a degree titled "Feminism, creativity, and social change: Personal and Cultural Healing." For many years I have been active in social change movements including Central America Solidarity work and Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, the Rainbow Coalition, the United Farmworkers, Seattle Area Fat Feminists Inspiration and Rage, National Organization for Women, and the Green Party of California. I continue to explore creativity and improvisation as language through music, dance, performance art, poetry and visual arts.

I have a Masters degree in Political Science, a Masters degree in Body-Oriented Psychotherapy and am a licensed Marriage Family Therapist. I have worked with women with eating disorders and body image issues since 1989 including organizing conferences entitled "Take Back Our Bodies: Women and Eating Disorders," facilitating body acceptance workshops, public speakouts and activism towards bringing awareness and healing to the current epidemic of dieting, eating disorders, fat phobia, and body hatred.


Lucy's Pt. Reyes Soliloquy

shoulders forward
pull up
I am seen
I participate
Chest up and out
its OK
Don't worry
your breasts are fine

How can I write?

I am here
Release me for the moment
No one is watching
you'll need the key to get back in
Deciphered in ancient codes
Horses know how to read it

Where are my feet?
How old am I?
Two, five, twenty, sixty?
I think 3 months
Learning to crawl and already
feeling like it isn't good enough

Feed me
before it's too late
blow out the candles
and let me rest
before the dawn
when we begin again
only this time its different
I am a flower
and you are a bee
We can exist

what would it be like
to live from my center
Not expecting conflict
but living from my center
Responding to others after they
Not before

by Lucy Colvin


Brigid Ryan

I started learning from movement very early, thanks to my parents teaching me to swim at age 2 and to ice skate at 3, greatly extending and altering my sense of gravity and range of movement. Being introduced to yoga at 12 also changed my view and experience of my body, to a deeper sense of a lived experience of it rather than a body to be looked at. I later went on to study modern dance at UC Santa Cruz where I received a BA in Theatre Arts/ Dance. I also became a massage therapist at that time.

Dance, choreography, performance and massage are each intimate, powerful perspectives of working with the body from within and without. Because in my experience in dance training where I saw how changes in my body changed my psyche and changes in my mind-spirit changed my body, I wanted to explore working with people in this way.

One project I worked on was empowerment theatre for women--each performed her own Goddess imagery.

Continuing in this direction I studied and received an MA in Somatic Psychology. I am a Marriage Family Therapist working with children and adults using somatic and play therapies in the unfolding of mystery. My recent movement explorations have been playing with combining movement and storytelling improvisations.


Valerie Kay

My childhood was spent working in a family business and helping to raise my younger siblings. I married my high school sweetheart and had two daughters. Early in my marriage I became interested in the study of dreams and in the Intensive Journal Process. My deepest passion has always been the study of psychology. After I became a single Mom through a divorce, I was forced into the corporate world and moved to Washington, D. C. I traveled to Saudi Arabia as a liaison between doctors and the corporation and I taught stress management and communication skills to corporate law firms.

Breast cancer was the catalyst for making a new life plan for myself, including a return to school and the study of psychology. I am currently a candidate for a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis on women's issues -- including loss and grief, especially as it pertains to cancer and life changes. I divide my time between working as a therapist at the Infant-Parent Program at San Francisco General Hospital; writing my dissertation on the dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship as they prepare for the daughter's wedding; and enjoying my new granddaughter and anticipating another grandchild this summer.


Mary Milton

I grew up in New Jersey and attended Temple University where I earned a B. A. in English and the University of Wisconsin where I earned an M. A. in speech correction. I have worked as a Speech and Language specialist in various settings, but mostly in the public schools of Richmond, California.

I studied theater improvisation with Sue Walden and worked with Flash Family and Out of Bounds improvisational groups and in various scripted theatrical productions. I studied poetry with Jannie Dresser and continue my explorations in writing with the Fresh Ink poetry group.


Claudia Wolz

I was born in the Midwest and grew up in Italy. I attended Antioch College in Ohio, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California State University, Hayward and have an M. A. in art from San Francisco State University. I taught photography at Ohlone and Chabot Colleges and art to children at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco. In 1984, I was diagnosed with MS. By 1987 I stopped teaching due to my growing disability. My current work continued to develop within the bounds set by my physical limitations. When I was newly diagnosed, I declared to my sister-in-law, Peg, that I never wanted to be my disease. This declaration has returned to haunt me as I face the reality of a decade of time elapsed with 'nothing' to show for it. I see that my life now, is, and has been, defined by my disease since I moved to Tucson in 1989. I no longer devote three hours every day to doing my artwork. I haven't even stopped to make note of this. How long has this been going on? What do I want to do about that, now?

I begin to see myself within the space left open, clarified, and defined by the boundaries created by the availability of daily help that I receive for survival skills and the assistance I am offered to reify my visions. The onus has now shifted to my ability to communicate. Making art has reached the proportions of enrolling others in following through on the actions that my body can no longer execute. Am I requesting assistance to complete my own vision? I teaching? I coercing? I merely surviving?

I hope to create, in others, the vision to see beyond themselves. Collaboration relies on being able to set aside ones own agenda. Am I trying to set an example by showing that I have nothing to lose because I have nothing to gain, or to contribute?

NO! I trust the intrinsic value of the process of engaging in an open exchange of ideas through artistic collaboration. And my expertise lies in my experience of having taught art to children from 1977 to 1987, photography to adults between 1974 to 1981, preparing for registration as an art therapist from 1990-1994, and doing art collaboratively between 1988 and 1999.

I want, now, in my life, to use whatever form I can to increase my awareness, to 'see' (in the sense of seeing through surface appearances). Perhaps my disability will continue to be my ally in this enlightening experience.

Claudia passed away in 2000.