A month back as part of Penpositive I visited an Alzheimer’s and dementia care center to read some poetry. I connected with them quite accidently. I have this habit of just typing poetry at places where people do not type like say job sites. I mean who would advertise for a poet. But I did just that and stumbled on this request to do a reading.
I have not directly been in contact with people with Alzheimer’s though I did know a little about the painful aspects of it. I always wanted to use poetry in a way it benefits people and the society. For me poetry is about love and enjoyment and sense of purpose and responsibility to people around you. And it looked like a good evening to spend reading poetry.
I was not sure what to read, but after I spoke to the person in the center they said something funny and light would be good. I selected a few poems and also made sure they were simple. I had a doubt if my Indian accent would be a handicap but I have always felt that if you read from the heart people listen with the heart. So I was there promptly with a few books.
They were having a small feast the next day and were decorating the place. Since there was some time I went ahead and helped them put on some of the decorations and then when it was time we went to the dining area or common room where they were watching the TV.
I was cautioned earlier that since people were in varied levels of the ailment the response to my poems might be a bit compromised. The room had around 25 people and a few were seated in the front where I stood and read. I read a few poems and did get response from the people in the front. Some smiled and all eagerly listened. Yes a few people were sleepy too as they just had their lunch.
In between I also had some folks come over and talk. I guess after 20 minutes into it I could feel that folks were losing interest and then one lovely gentleman said “Thank You for reading those wonderful poems to us; I hope now we can get to the TV and see it from where we left it” It reminded me of my son whom I would pull away from the TV and make him read. There are some experience one cannot explain in words, may be I can one day in a poetry.
Coming back home I did some research on the poetry and Alzheimer’s and found this site http://www.alzpoetry.com/ that talks about the role poetry can play in healing and support of Alzheimer’s. I also understood that reading popular poetry were better as that helps exercise thoughts since those might be poems they have heard before or even memorized before. I also came to know of the ALZHEIMER’S POETRY PROJECT it is a blog that showcases poetry written by people living with Alzheimer’s. I would recommend you all to visit here and read the wonderful world of words creatively pulled from a memory that is not like before
I am now trying to learn more on this and other areas where poetry readings will help and any suggestions and opinions and opportunities to do so are welcome and I will surely find my time to read… If you do not mind the thick accent… but it comes straight from the heart and has an extra spoon of passion I add to it