Janet E. Aalfs

Blue Fire

When this body’s done, my breath
will find another
shape to flame in. Pink-speckled
heart leaf, spiraled fossil, good luck
cat, yellow-eyed, paw raised.

Oh to be that blue
star morning
sun ignites. Petals
curled toward heaven,
filaments at the center

spilling light.
Or the turquoise glass
bead hanging from a silver paper
crane, drop of ocean solid
in the window, shard of sky.


Listen to “Freezer,” “The Girl Who Fear Does Not Break,” “Inherited Device,” “Blue Fire,” and “Reflected,” read by Janet Aalfs:

Cover image: Reach

Out of print

“I love Janet Aalfs’ poems — they're tender and sharply delivered, filed with what is most human, and so graceful and sure they lift you, almost, in their arms, and bid you to dance. She says in one poem, ‘Crane dances / because she loves to.’ The crane and Janet Aalfs not only dance because they love to dance but also because they know how to dance.” —Thomas Lux
“Aalfs’ poetic talent…[reminds] me of the central role of mindfulness in a poet’s approach to the world.” Lambda Book Report
“Aalfs is that rare poet whose writing encompasses both body and spirit in a seamless whole.” The Women’s Times
“Janet Aalfs is, simply, one of our best contemporary poets…[Her] poems celebrate the body from a knowledge of it that is utter artistry…They open possibilities not only for the body, but for what it wants, what it needs, and what may be in store beyond.” Peregrine

Janet E. Aalfs

After publishing her first collection Reach, Janet E. Aalfs served as poet laureate of Northampton, MA. Aalfs, a 7th degree black belt, is the founder and director of Lotus Peace Arts at Heron’s Bridge/VWMA. A 2013 recipient of the UMass Center for Women & Community’s Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award, Aalfs is dedicated to creating sites for revelation. She offers Poemotion© programs that weave poetry, interpretive dance, martial arts, self/collective protection strategies & healing movement. An integrative arts community educator and activist, she has shared her work locally, nationally & internationally for more than 40 years. Some venues at which Aalfs has performed include the Dodge Poetry Festival, Split This Rock, Power of Words, Po’Jazz/ Hudson Valley, AWP, Mass Poetry Festival & Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre, Cape Town, South Africa. Her writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals & online sites. She won first prize in poetry contests of The Boston Herald & Peregrine Journal and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her other books include What the Dead Want Me to Know (Human Error Publishing, 2022), Bird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers Press, 2010), Full Open (Orogeny Press), Of Angels and Survivors (Two Herons Press), and Lubec Tides, a finalist in the Bright Hill Chapbook Contest.

  • Watch the “Readings & Roots: Perugia Poets on Poetic Process” video featuring Janet E. Aalfs reading and discussing her poem “Way of the Crane” from Reach.
  • Read Janet E. Aalfs’ “Poet’s Platform” feature on Perugia’s blog, about June Jordan and “the intergenerational work of being in service to poetry and liberation and positive change” on the twentieth anniversary of Jordan’s death.

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