Poem-a-Day: Highlights from Dodge ‘Poetry & Democracy’ in Morristown

Janet Aalfs performs at 'Poetry & Democracy,' presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Janet Aalfs performs at 'Poetry & Democracy,' presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Morristown became a magnet for poetry fans last weekend, thanks to Poetry & Democracy, a daylong series of free discussions and readings sponsored by the Dodge Poetry Program.

Dodge Poetry Director Martin Farawell addresses 'Poetry & Democracy,' presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Dodge Poetry Director Martin Farawell makes a point at ‘Poetry & Democracy,’ presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Topics included the justice system and voting rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration, the working poor, and race and violence.

“We wanted a wide range of voices,” said program Director Martin Farawell, noting that 200 people registered for sessions held at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, the Mayo Performing Arts Center, the Morristown & Morris Township Library, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

The takeaway, Farawell hopes, is that poetry “crosses all boundaries. It doesn’t matter what your background, or your education level, or your sexual orientation or ethnicity is. It’s an ancient art form, shared by human beings since the beginning of human history.”

Audience at St. Peter's for 'Poetry & Democracy,' presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Audience at St. Peter’s for ‘Poetry & Democracy,’ presented in Morristown by the Dodge Poetry Program, March 23, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

We caught the evening session at St. Peter’s, In Praise: A Hundred Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Earth. Eight poets and the Parkington Sisters musical trio reflected on gratitude and common connections that transcend our differences.

Everyone can use a healthy dose of that, right?

So, over the next few days, Morristown Green will highlight these performances, in the order they occurred.

Featured poets are Janet Aalfs, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Catherine Doty, Rigoberto González, Joe Weil, and Rachel Wiley.

First up: Poetry in Motion, video of Janet Aalfs presenting A Simple Word:

More about the poet, from Dodge:

Janet E. Aalfs, poet laureate of Northampton, MA (2003-2005), 7th degree black belt, and master Taiji/Qigong instructor, has been sharing her poetic movement weavings locally, nationally, and internationally for 40 years. Founder and director of Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women’s Martial Arts, a non-profit school since 1977, she is dedicated to helping create sites for revelation. Recipient of the 2013 Leadership and Advocacy in the Arts Award (UMass/CWC), and prizes for her poetry, Janet practices everyday peace-building through arts activism. She has been a Dodge Festival Poet, a cultural exchange teaching artist in Cape Town, South Africa, and presenter/performer at numerous events and conferences. Her poetry is widely published in journals, anthologies, and online. Her books include Bird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers Press), Reach (Perugia Press), and several chapbooks including Of Angels and Survivors (Two Herons Press) and Full Open (Orogeny Press).

And if you can’t wait for our next installments, here is a video playlist:

MORE FROM ‘POETRY & DEMOCRACY’

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