Poetry with Elders
much to the dismay of myself and my elder students (who range in age from 55-97!), the institute on aging has cut all my teaching contracts for the fall. that means the 3 sites and 40+ seniors will no longer have the opportunity to meet with me on a weekly basis to learn and practice the art and joy of writing poetry.
here's the thing about the way we approach what we do: nothing rhymes (boring!) and if you can't hold a pencil (most people can't) no problem! all you need to do to be a poet is be in the room, see what you see, imagine what you imagine, think what you think, speak up when you feel moved, or, if you can't speak, then a gesture of any kind suffices. if you don't remember what we just talked about 5 minutes before, no worries. we'll say it again. or we'll change it. we'll make sure you get to be you as we create poems and explore words together.
my goal is to give students a place to freely express, to become something they'd never become (an ocean, a puff of fog, a letter enclosed inside their mother's pocket). poetry is not just a genre made up of rules and forms and terms you need to learn and remember. poetry is an act of discovering things about yourself you did not know (see especially how your imagination works). poetry is a place you can forget about what ails you for 1.5 hours a week or write about it if you need. poetry is a community of other people like you, people who become not just fellow writers but friends. poetry is an act of spontaneous utterance--say something and i write it down. someone says something more and that gets written down too. we revise as we go. we have big ideas and small. we laugh, a lot. and we end every class with a rousing round of applause.
you see, we're not just writing poetry, we're using our minds and our hearts. we're creating a space where we feel like we're alive and seen. a place where we belong in a world in which we've become so invisible. and we feel oh so proud of ourselves. and it's priceless.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (September 2013)