Author of the Month

Image of Janet E. Aalfs, Book 2022 (1)
Image of Janet E. Aalfs

Author of the Month: Janet E. Aalfs
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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

1:00 pm

My most recent book of poems, serendipitously published in 2022 on the 99th birthday anniversary of my mother, Joann, is entitled What the Dead Want Me to Know (Human Error Publishing)The cover artwork is a photograph of one of Joann's hooked yarn tapestries that she created in the 1980's.   

Other books include Bird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers Press, 2010), Reach (Perugia Press, 1999), and a series of small press and self-published chapbooks. Widely published in journals, anthologies, and online, my poems, stories, and essays explore the natural world, spirit journeys, ancestor connections, and transformative encounters of all kinds.  

My integrative arts practice since 1977 includes teaching and performing. One of my most cherished moments of recognition was receiving a Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award from the Center for Women and Community, UMass/Amherst. As a poet and interpretive dancer fluent in three movement languages – Jian Mei Tai Chi and Qigong, Shuri-ryu Karate, and Filipino Arnis Stick Arts – I delight in helping to create sites for revelation that include making connections across creative borders and imposed barriers. 

I've been inspired and informed by countless activist artists of all genres. To name a few: my parents and 3 siblings; Enheduanna, first known author in the world, circa 2300 BCE; Kenojuak Ashevak, painter, 1927-2013; Gloria Anzaldúa, poet/writer educator, 1942-2004; Audre Lorde, poet/writer educator, 1934-1992; Bessie Smith, poet and blues musician, 1894-1937; Adrienne Rich, poet/writer educator, 1929-2012; Grandmaster Remy Presas, Arnis Stick Arts, 1936-2001; Grandmaster Yu Wen Mei, Jian Mei Tai Chi; Yue Yin, dancer and educator. 

I founded and currently direct Lotus Peace Arts at Heron's Bridge/VWMA in Easthampton. All of the methods I share celebrate being alive, and offer effective self/collective healing, empowerment, and protection strategies. I call the performance pieces that I weave of spoken word and movement Poemotion©. In offering my work, I've been fortunate to travel the world near and far, including to Cape Town, South Africa to help facilitate a program with young people called “Labyrinth of Courage.” For me, wherever I am, connecting heart to heart is a daily practice of facing and moving through fear to the next level of compassionate transformation.

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