Heather Lanier illuminates truths about the human condition that speak to both the head and the heart.

Why you should listen

As an essayist and a poet, Heather Lanier's work spans a range of subjects, from parenting and disability to pop culture and religion. She is the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks, The Story You Tell Yourself and Heart-Shaped Bed in Hiroshima, along with the nonfiction book, Teaching in the Terrordome: Two Years in West Baltimore with Teach For America, which MacArthur Genius Deborah Meier called "a heart-wrenching … much-needed account." She has received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and a Vermont Creation Grant.

In her viral Vela Magazine essay, "SuperBabies Don't Cry," Lanier chronicles her daughter's diagnosis of a rare chromosomal syndrome and explores the ways pregnant women are pressured to create perfect humans. As a mother and a disability advocate, she shines a light on ableist attitudes, encourages readers to see disability as an aspect of diversity, and marvels at the strange beauty of being human. Her book about raising her daughter is forthcoming from Penguin Press and Piatkus / Little, Brown UK. She writes a related blog here, and teaches writing at Southern Vermont College.

Heather Lanier’s TED talk