The Next Chapter

Why Aisha Sasha John believes dance and poetry are the same

The dancer and author of the new poetry collection I have to live talks about intuition and how words and movement combine.
Aisha Sasha John is a poet, artist, musician and dancer. (Yuula Benivolski/McClelland & Stewart)

Aisha Sasha John is a dancer and a poet. She has been a finalist for prizes like the Trillium Book Award and the ReLit Poetry Award for her writing. Her most recent collection of poems is called I have to live

Listening to intuition

I'm interested in embodied knowledge and in intuition, intuitive science. I think that poetry is intuitive science. I think that's what all art is based on — trying to refine that sense through a listening practice, though reception, to train myself to listen and to simply record. 

I wanted to be passive. You have to be active to be passive because it's a special state. So I worked on strategies and different methods for getting the kind of receptive state that was conducive to poetry. 

Dance and poetry are one

Dance and poetry, I've always felt like they are the same thing. I've been encouraged to combine them, and I did. That's changed. I've come to realize that I'm always dancing when I speak and rhythm is such a strong feature of my writing. I've learned various dance vocabularies and they are fused in my body. When I move, that expression is my own language.

Aisha Sasha John's comments have been edited and condensed.