Poetry opens minds and memories for elders challenged by Alzheimers

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Elders who are fortunate enough to be engaged in the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project understand Goethe’s thought.   They both read and share a good poem, and perhaps hear a little song in the reading and sharing.

Today marks the first day of National Poetry Month, a springtime event that reminds the world that, even in this digital age, poetry matters. ( It is worth noting that, before data ruled, poets had a grip on meter….)

My recent awareness is of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project (http://www.alzpoetry.com), a national and local initiative of which I was unaware and which gives me joy to share.

The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project affirms the basics.   Poet Gary Glazner founded the project in 2004 in Santa Fe; the project has morphed over the years to what politicians would deem a movement. Glazner’s vision was to “bond together as a community build on shared words, passions, and discoveries through the performance and creation of poetry.”

It’s a beautiful vision, made real in this community by those who share a commitment to the power of poetry to evoke the thoughts and strength of Minnesota seniors.   Since 2012 the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project Minnesota (www.alzpoetryorg) has shared the beauty and power of poetry with Minnesota elders and their families, friends and caregivers. The goal is to evoke and share the untold stories of many whose voices have yet to be heard.

On Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, will celebrate the power of poetry to unlock stories for loved ones challenged by memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project will hold a benefit reading on Saturday, April 23, 2:00 p.m. at Homewood Studios, 2400 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis. Poets Raachel Moritz, Dian Jarvenpa, Julie Landsman will share their words and wisdom.  Incredibly, there is no cost to attend, though donations will be gratefully accepted. Limited edition letterpress broadsides of an original poem created by the Alzheimers Poetry Project poets, will be available.

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