Poetry, Motion and the Art of Noticing:
A Conversation with Janet E. Aalfs
Interviewed by Reggie Marra
The place of deepening – where we must keep going to discover the next silence and word, the next still-point and gesture – forms the core of the poem, of the dance. The act of noticing with all of our senses, our whole heart-mind, body, and spirit, creates an open path for clear words and motion to arise, create momentum, and transform. Through movement meditation, spoken word, writing, and sharing our work, we encourage deepening into the next level of healing practice, and of freedom. As Toni Morrison has said, “The function of freedom is to free somebody else.” Any creative spark with which one takes the positive risk to become more free is truly a gift.
Janet E. Aalfs, poet laureate emeritus of Northampton, MA (2003-2005), a Jian Mei branch chief instructor of Tai Chi and Qigong, a 7th degree black belt in Shuri-ryu Karate, and a 6th degree black belt in Arnis Filipino Stick Arts, has been sharing her poetic movement weavings locally, nationally, and internationally for almost 40 years.
Founder and director of Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women’s Martial Arts, a non-profit community school since 1977, Janet is dedicated to helping create sites for revelation, creative understanding, and healing. She enjoys the ongoing process of learning through cultural exchange, and the “You-I-We” of this collaborative work. In 2013, Janet was inducted into the International Modern Arnis Black Belt Hall of Fame and received a Pioneer Award.
Recipient of the 2013 Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award from the Center for Women and Community, UMass/Amherst, the 2016 National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Founders Award, and prizes for her poetry, Janet practices peace-building through arts activism in an everyday way. She has been a Dodge Festival Poet and presenter/performer at numerous events and conferences. Her poetry is widely published in journals and anthologies, and her most recent book is Bird of a Thousand Eyes, from Levellers Press