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.

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

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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fox Valley Memory Project

First Ever! World Premier!
Inaugural Foxy River & Chocolate
Tasting Extravaganza Poem!
(The 55 poets of the Fox Valley Memory Project, with poet Gary Glazner and organizers John and Susan McFadden and Betty Lefebvre-Hill on July 24th, 2013, wrote this poem. These words set forth here commemorate the initial field trip Fox Valley Memory Cafes to Seroogy’s Homemade Chocolates, the River Room Restaurant, and a cruise on the Fox River. Which by the way did you know the river flows north?)

When I think of today, I think of fellowship,
Getting together to go to the river.

On the subject of chocolate:
I ate the whole piece!
Very smooth, sweet and just about perfect.
It bloomed in my mouth.
The taste of chocolate is friendly.

The coffee is good and hot.
Do you like it creamy?

Oooooooooo that chocolate was good.
The melt aways caused us to buy melt aways.
How would I describe the chocolate?
Uuuuuuum, uuuuuuum sooooth stuff!

On the subject of lunch:
Chicken, chicken, fish, chicken, chicken, fish.
Fabulous, tasty, excellent!
How would I describe the fish? Swimmingly!

On the subject of the river:
It's great, the first time I have had a river ride.
Lots of history.
We were raised a little way from here.
I love the white pelicans.
The lazy ones who don't want to fly all
the way to Canada.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

I love the water.
I love being out on a beautiful day.
Letting the boat rock me to sleep.

I like to go on the water but I don't want to be in the water.

There are lots of things I love about today.
What do i like about today?
Being out in the fresh air, the sunlight and the chocolate.

Enjoying the view on a perfect day.
I did not realize there was so much on the river.

I love seeing my mom out and enjoying herself
The smile on her face.

I like seeing bridges going up.
Seeing this part of the river.

There nothing like being on the water.
I love the calming effect.
Let someone else do the driving.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memory Arts Cafe at Coney Island

Memory Arts Cafe at Coney Island Boardwalk and Aquarium.
Join us in Coney Island as we tour the boardwalk, aquarium and
Nathans Famous Frankfurters.
Saturday, July 27th, 10:00am
Surf Ave & W 8th Street, Brookyn NY 11224

For those living with Alzheimer’s disease,
their caregivers and friends.
Hosted by poet Gary Glazner. He will lead the audience in the creation
of a new poem inspired by Coney Island.

Glazner’s work has been featured on NBC’s “Today Show” and National
Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” Glazner was awarded the 2012
MetLife Foundation Creativity and Aging in
America Leadership Award in the category of Community Engagement.
For info: 718-499-7701 or

Memory Arts Café is co-produced by New York Memory Center
and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project

Partially Funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

Monday, July 8, 2013

APP at the Memory Cafe in Middleton Wisconsin

The CBS Affiliate in Madison, Wisconsin broadcast a story on the APP at the Memory Cafe, which is organized by the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin. Kathy King did a wonderful job of capturing the story and the laughter. It was an honor and a fun group to work with.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013



Residents and staff who have participated in the three-month long Appleton Poetry Project invite the public to join them in the culminating celebration of their poetry-making.

The celebration will take place on July 23 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. in Ogilvie Hall at the Thompson Community Center. Refreshments will be served. For more information, go to or contact Gary Glazner at:

Participants in the Appleton Poetry Project live and work at Brewster Village, Appleton Health Care Center, Fox River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Valley VNA Senior Services, and Bridgewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Residents and staff will present well-loved classic poems and originally created works. As a highlight of the event, New York poet, Gary Glazner, the internationally acclaimed founder and director of the Alzheimer Poetry Project, will lead the audience in the creation of a new poem.

This will be a high energy, fun event with lots of audience participation. It will highlight the creativity of people living with memory loss in long-term care.

All are welcome to come and experience this exciting form of creative engagement for people with dementia. This event is sponsored by the Helen Bader Foundation, the Poetry Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, and the Fox Valley Memory Project.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Meets Cowboys Real and Imagined

In the hallowed tradition of campfire tales and cowboy poetry, the Alzheimer's Poetry Project holds a special session at the New Mexico History Museum on Friday, June 21, 10-11 am. People living with dementia, their family members and the general public are invited to participate in performing and creating poetry inspired by the new exhibit Cowboys Real and Imagined. Gary Glazner, founder and executive director of the APP and APP poets Joanne Dwyer and Michelle Otero will lead the session.

Cowboys Real and Imagined explores New Mexico’s cowboy legacy from its origin in the Spanish vaquero tradition through itinerant hired hands, outlaws, rodeo stars, cowboy singers, Tom Mix movies and more. Guest curated by B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West at the University of Oklahoma, the exhibit grounds the cowboy story in New Mexico through rare photographs, cowboy gear, movies and art. It includes a bounty of artifacts ranging in size from the palm-sized tintype of Billy the Kid purchased at a 2011 auction by William Koch to the chuck wagon once used by cowboys on New Mexico’s legendary Bell Ranch.

The event is free by reservation, but limited to 30 participants. For more information or reservations, contact Gary Glazner at

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project is funded in part by the Santa Fe Arts Commission, New Mexico Arts, a division of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ode To My Fathers Dementia

This a powerful poem and statement from Antrobus. His outlook on his father's dementia is articulate and moving. The last line is a battle cry for caregivers. Please give it a look and listen.

Raymond Antrobus is a spoken word poet and photographer, born and bred in Hackney. He is co-curator of Chill Pill/Keats House Forum and has performed along side authors and poets such as Margret Atwood, Michael Horovitz, Lemm Sissay, Benjamin Zephaniah & Kwame Dawes. Raymond appeared on series 5 of BBC Radio 4’s Bespoken Word.

Follow him on twitter - @RaymondAntrobus - His book Shapes & Disfigurements is out now on Burning Eye books -

More info on Antrobus at:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Memory Arts Cafe at Brooklyn Museum

at the Brooklyn Museum
Saturday, May 25, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Rubin Pavilion, 1st Floor

Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers, and the general public are all invited to join this celebration of the Memory Arts Café, featuring jazz trumpeter Jesse Neuman and the Rhythm Break Cares Dance Company with Stine Moen and Hooba. Coproduced by the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, the Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Memory Center. Hosted by Gary Glazner of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. Reception to follow. Email: for more information. The Brooklyn Museum also presents Brooklyn Afternoons: Art and Conversation for Individuals with Memory Loss, a free monthly program that invites individuals with memory loss and their caregivers to explore the Museum’s collections together. Information at

The New York Memory Center is a Brooklynbased agency providing services to adults with cognitive, physical, and emotional limitations to help them enjoy life beyond diagnosis of memory loss.

The Memory Arts Café is sponsored, in part, by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the Axe-Houghton Foundation, and the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

Photo by Jonathan Dorado

Sunday, April 21, 2013



There are purple flowers, orchids and grapes.
Purple is the color of Patricia's rain coat, the priests' vestments and wine.

Soft edges float with uncertainty like rain clouds.
Fog, cotton, marshmallows, mud.
Uncertainty, uncertainty.

Green is rough.
Green is smooth.
Green is a walk in the new mowed lawn

This poem was created as part of the "Meet Me at MoMA" project. The session was led by Museum Educator, Riva Blumenfeld. She had participated in staff training I provided at MoMA last year and she used some of the APP techniques in leading the session. She asked a series of questions: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS COLOR PURPLE?

The group's answers form the lines of the poem.

Riva and I reconnected last week at the Practice & Progress: The MoMA Alzheimer's Project Exchange and I was excited to learn from her that she had been using the APP techniques and having success.

Painting No. 3/No. 13 by Mark Rothko
Bequest of Mrs. Mark Rothko through The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.
© 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Thursday, March 28, 2013

John Fons' Writing

A while back we featured the poetry of Jon Fons. He had participated in Alzheimer's Poetry Day at the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Fons has recently launched a wonderful website featuring his writing. Click here to link to his website:

Here is another of Fons' poems:

Pressed Flowers

You are the
Bloom of

Your colors
And scent
Your stem
Grown brittle.

Yet every
Flower holds
The memory of
Its passion.

Every petal
Tells a beauty
Beyond fashion.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

APP on the Radio

Click here to listen to the show: Alzheimers Speaks Radio, Blog Talk Radio

Performing a poem at the Memory Arts Cafe.

With Gary Glazner and project artists Zoe Bird; Fabu Carter; Rachel Moritz and Michelle Otero.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This poem was created by the poets of Barelas Share Your Care, in Albuquerque, New Mexico and poet Michelle Otero on February 6, 2012. 

The model poems Otero used were “Ode to the Onion” by Pablo Neruda and “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

As this is part of the APP Spanish language project she also used the Dicho: "Del dicho al hecho hay gran trecho." (From the word to the act, there’s quite a long path.) 

Otero writes about the session, "Participants raised and lowered their arms like waves as we read 'The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls.' They laughed when I introduced Neruda’s 'Ode to the Onion.' I shared with them the names of other Neruda Odes ('Ode to My Socks,' 'Ode to the Dictionary,' 'Ode to the Apple') and then passed around five large onions I had brought in as props. Many remembered growing onions in their gardens.

We passed an onion as a sort of talking stick when writing our onion poem. Many of the participants rubbed the skin between their fingers or smoothed their hands over the round surface. Having something to hold and respond to led to some creative lines of poetry and inspired one woman to sing a song she’d learned as a child, changing the lyrics to fit our poem ('Lonely little onion in a turnip patch…').
This onion feels like a hand.
It’s a nice onion, as big as a baseball.

We grew lots of onions in West Virginia,
lonely little onion in a turnip patch

Está bonita esta cebolla.
¿Quién sabe qué diría?
En Cuahtemoc tienen cebolla, melon.

It feels very thin, almost like from a tree.

If this onion could talk, it would say,
“I’m getting so hungry, I’m gonna eat myself.”

It’s pretty because it’s so round.

If this onion could talk, it would say,
“Don’t eat me!”

The onion feels hard, it smells real bad.

Onions have a sweet taste.
They enhance the flavor of other foods.

It’s good when it grows.
It goes to the children.
I was following my children.

I don’t what you’d call this onion, but it’s round and cold.

If this onion could talk, it would say,
“If you take my outer skin off, I’m gonna make you cry.”

This onion feels like eggplant, smooth, really smooth.
I knew the names of all the onions. I forgot.

This onion’s name is Smelling Good,
brings back memories of my mom cooking dinner,
chopping onions, a good bowl of onion soup.
It smells like vinegar. And they cut it. It makes you cry.

Onion heals a cold. Just cut it open,
chop it up, put some Caro syrup on it and eat it.

Onions probably grow in the ground,
but that thing sticking out feels like a leaf
so maybe it’s a tree.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kids Who Give

Max Wallack the teenage poet whose poem was featured in Dementia Arts on Capitol Hill has been awarded $1000 from Max is giving the money to Alzheimer’s research. Please help him win an additional $10,000 by voting for him at Kids Who Give at:

Here is his poem from Dementia Arts on Capitol Hill:

It gallops in silently on powerful hoofs
Snatching sweet, precious, forgotten memories
Turning true-blue loyal friends into treacherous strangers
Clogging synapses with emptiness
Crumbling trust into excruciating paranoia
With bleak darkness comes the anxious wakefulness of broad daylight
And bitter terror encompasses every living fiber
"If I sleep, where will I be when I wake up?"
The compulsion to run, the paralysis of fear
Mature, child-like dependence
Retracing youthful development, but in rapid reverse
Cureless medicines, meaningless conversations
Leading up to the inevitable

This poem was first published at Mind Set Poetry. The site is hosted by the Alzheimer's Association
Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter. Read the poems and learn more at

Max is also the founder of Puzzles-To-Remember. You may reading about the project on at:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Valentine's Dance

New York Memory Center & Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Present
Valentine’s Dance at the Memory Arts Café

Memory Arts Café is a new 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, which takes place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, includes light refreshments and the opportunity to chat with the guest artists.

This Memory Arts Café event features the dance company Rhythm Break Cares (RBC). Poet Gary Glazner will host the event.

Wednesday, February 13th, at 6 pm
New York Memory Center
199 14th Street at 4th Avenue • Brooklyn, NY 11215
(Take the R to Prospect Ave.)
For info: call (718) 499-7701 or visit

Please join us for an evening of fun, dancing and socializing. Rhythm Break Cares (RBC) takes a unique and highly effective approach to address the widespread and immediate needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s, associated dementias, and their caregivers, by engaging them in partner dance as a means to improve their quality of life. Since 2009, RBC has successfully offered this interesting form of dance therapy, which capitalizes on the demonstrated benefits of music, movement and touch. Their sessions provide a rare opportunity for patients and their caregivers to escape some of the burdens associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia, in a stress-free environment where they can observe, participate and be entertained.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be A Doctor?

What Does It Mean To Be A Doctor?
-Dr. Peter Reimann

What it means to be a doctor
is a number of things.
People come to you
and want advice about their health
and they complain about what they consider
is missing from their health
Or they don’t.
They say, “What the hell do you think is wrong with me?
Lass mich allein, I’m fine
und du bist fur mich ein Borstenschwein!”*

What advice would I give a young doctor?
First I’d ask, “Why do you want to be a doctor?
Is it that you want to make money?
What for?
Or is it that you want to help other people?
What for?”

You ask me what was my reason to be a doctor.
I think my question was something of natural history.
Why are there people who need help?
Very complex, of course.
Do they need help because
of the hostile environment
or their internal hostility
or blah, blah, blah

What was the best thing about being a doctor?
…okay, one more question: $10-
Another complex  question.
It’s a job in which you keep your hands clean
You don’t get literally dirty
or it’s a job in which you make people feel a little better
or you make them feel really bad
Is that good?
Could be good-
Could be really bad…
and so on
and so on

*translation:  “Leave me alone, I’m fine
and you are for me a pig with many stiff hairs in his snout!”

(This poem was composed with Dr. Peter Reimann and his daughter Hannah in Springfield, New Jersey on Jan. 4th, 2013. Dr. Reimann is very playful with making up rhymes and jokes that his name means "rhyming man." He know many German poems by heart and recited and translated a few for us on the spot. We created the poem by asking questions around being a doctor. Hannah wrote down the answers to create the lines of the poem and translated the German lines. She is working on a film about her father and we will post links to it soon.)