Alzheimer's Poetry Project

This blog will be a place to post poetry written by people living with Alzheimer's disease. We will focus on poetry that is created as part of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. We will post information and news about dementia. We hope this blog is of use to the family members who have a loved one with dementia.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebration of Creativity


New York Memory Center, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and the
Brooklyn Public Library Present:
A Celebration of Creativity
A Memory Arts Café event, featuring singer Hannah Reimann

Saturday, June 28th, 10:30 am to 12:30pm, Brooklyn Public Library Dweck Center 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn. For info: call (718) 499-7701 or visit alzpoetry.com

Memory Arts Café is series of free art events for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers and the general public and is co-produced by New York Memory Center and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. The series includes light refreshments and the opportunity to chat with the guest artists.

The Celebration of Creativity with feature guest artist, singer and actor Hannah Reimann and be hosted by poet Gary Glazner. The highlight of the day will be the artists leading the audience, in the creation and performance of an exciting new work combining music and poetry.

Hannah Reimann has performed at Lincoln Center, the Grand Canyon Music Festival, and mostly recently performing the music of Joni Mitchell at the Cutting Room. Jim Brenholts for All Music writes, “Hannah’s range allows her to sing love songs, simple ballads, melancholy blues, and torch songs with equal gusto. Her lyrics are complex and simple; they are heartfelt and liberating.” She has collaborated with violist Paul Coletti performing the music of Argentine Astor Piazzolla. As a film actor, Reimann has appeared in over 20 independent films including the award-winning "The Wounded & the Slain" and “Things I Don’t Understand.” Her original music has been featured on CNN.

The event is co-produced by New York Memory Center, Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Poetry by Miriam Green


Questions my Mother Asked, Answers my Father Gave Her
by Miriam Green

Where were you last night?
I was here, with you, though you thought I was your father.
Where were you last night?
Out dancing with my lover who never forgets my name.

Where are the children?
They are grown with children of their own. They live in their own homes.
Where are the children?
They are waiting in the silken sky for your goodnight kisses.

Do you want a cup of tea?
Not now. I’m busy. You made some an hour ago.
Do you want a cup of tea?
I want many things. I want to stand with you under the canopy and never look forward.

How many children did I give birth to?
You cradled them both in your arms, raised them to adulthood.
How many children did I give birth to?
Daughter earth is calling. Go gently to her.

Where are my keys?
I told you. Check the back pocket of your bag.
Where are my keys?
We are locked inside this room together.

Is it time yet?
We have plenty of time.
Is it time yet?
Yes, it is time.

after Mark Strand

“Questions” recently won the 2013 Reuben Rose Poetry Prize. It appears on Miriam’s website
and in her as yet unpublished cookbook, The Lost Kitchen: An Alzheimer’s Memoir and Cookbook.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Definition of Angel


The poets of Pacifica Assisted Living Center in Santa Fe New Mexico and poet Joanne Dwyer created definition of Angel on November 20th, 2013. Model poems that were used in the session include: “In beauty may I walk,” Navajo – translated by Jerome K Rothenberg; “A List of Praises,” Anne Porter (Abridged); “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” Joy Harjo; “Te Deum,” Charles Reznikoff and “The Waking,” Theodore Roethke

Dwyer write about the sessions, “The theme of the session (because of Thanksgiving approaching) was gratitude and appreciation. The last two lines of the poem “A List of Praises,” are:

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood, And with the angels in that other country.

Which led me to ask the residents their definition of angel and hence came an unexpected poem, not just about gratitude, but angels. And the beautiful story that Wilbur shared from WWII. Wilbur, who at first, did not want to stay for poetry…”

Definition of Angel

A dark woman in a white cloud
wearing beautiful clothes.

White cloud with her floating around.
I wouldn’t know what to say to her.

Angels are little children.

Angel = heaven.

I have met the equivalent on earth many times.

I had an experience with angels in Israel.
My parents had died.
Things needed to be done, that I could not do.
Two weeks without food.
Suddenly a very tall, but young woman -
she wasn’t quite like we are.
She radiated love. "Where are you going, my little one", she asked.
"I am trying to get back to my father", I replied.

An angel is an angel.

There are many angelic people in the world
who are not self-serving.

A being that is beautiful and angelic.

I don’t know how many years ago,
in the war in the Pacific,
in the marine corps,
going from island to island
chasing the Japanese off...
Well, angels, I talked with -
maybe it was with angels.
I said, please spare me
and it helped.

Info on Joanne Dwyer

You may read Dwyer's work on the Poetry Foundation website. For info on her book, Belle Laide published by Sarabande Books

Friday, September 13, 2013

Poetry Project Helps Dementia Patients Live in the Moment


Here is the full piece on the APP which aired on Thursday, Sept. 12th. It was a blast to get to work with U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Correspondent Jeffery Brown, Head of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress, Rob Casper and Deputy Senior Producer, Anne Davenport. Hope you enjoy the segment!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

APP on PBS NewsHour

We were thrilled to be the first segment of PBS NewsHour's and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey new series "Where Poetry Lives."

Correspondant Jeffrey Brown writes, "Welcome to the first in a new series of reports we're doing with U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. We dreamed this up together, with the help of Rob Casper at the Library of Congress and Stephen Young at the Poetry Foundation, as a way to go into the world and look for poetry -- where and how it lives in sometimes unexpected places and ways. The idea is to follow where the poetry leads us into various corners of American life and, along the way, explore often difficult issues and problems in our society. Our first story involves the Alzheimer's Poetry Project."
Here is a link to Where Poetry Lives: Sharing Moments and Verse When Memory Fades by Jeffrey Brown


We started the day with the young knowledge seekers at ACE Preschool here is a video of us reciting -- and acting out -- William Jay Smith's poem Laughing Time.

A post of the full story, which aired on PBS Newhour on Thursday, September 12th, is coming soon.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Poetry in the Park


PBS NewsHour filmed today's Memory Arts Cafe. Jeffery Brown interviews Bernie in Prospect Park. We had a picnic, jammed with a sax player, recited poems by Whitman and Dickinson and created a poem about the park, a perfect day.

Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate recited Lucille Clifton's poem:
why some people be mad at me sometimes
they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering
mine.

The group loved the poem and Natasha performed it with them using the "call and response," technique.
One woman called out the last line before Natasha recited it, saying, "That's just how I feel."
It was a lovely moment.

I will post a link when the piece airs. Probably in mid-September.
The Memory Arts Cafe is co-produced with New York Memory Center.
Christopher Nadeau, Executive Director of the New York Memory Center surprised us all
with a beautiful poem he had written on love.
Special thanks to Josephine Brown and her hard work on the event.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Memory Arts Cafe Visits Prospect Park

Picnic in the Park

Special Guest: United States Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey

Please join for a Memory Arts Café field trip to Prospect Park. We will visit the Boathouse, watch swans glide on a lake and see a waterfall. We will take in the park’s most famous tree the “Camperdown Elm,” which was planted in Brooklyn in 1872. It’s one of only a few surviving trees in the world grafted from an elm on the estate of the Earl of Camperdown in Scotland.

Poet Gary Glazner will lead the group in the creation of a new poem inspired by the nature of Prospect Park. Yes! It will be an easy walk in the park.

In 2012, Trethewey was named as 19th U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress. Trethewey plans to travel to cities and towns across the country meeting with the general public to seek out the many ways poetry lives in American communities and report on her discoveries in a regular feature on the PBS NewsHour Poetry Series.