Poetry Chapter from Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Eldercare
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This in-depth chapter from Glazner's book teaches how to perform and create poems with elders and people living with memory loss.


Click here for Poetry Out Loud Teaching Resources

Tips for Leading Poetry for Life

Preparing for the Session

  • Choose a theme.
  • Choose poems to go with the theme.
  • Choose a prop or props to support the theme and poems.
  • Decide who will recite which poems. (Or if the poem is long which lines or parts you will recite)
  • Choose poems or parts of poems to use the “Call and Response,” technique with.
  • Choose poems to have discussions around. Or fun facts about the poem or poet to share with the participants. Are there jokes or funny things about the poem you can bring into the session?
  •  Choose an order for the poems.  (Musicians call this a set list.)
  • Decide if one person will act as an MC (Master of Ceremony) (Another option is to share the MC responsibilities and have each person introduce the next the person.)
  • Choose a question or questions to ask the participants to create a group poem.
  • Decide who will ask the questions to create the poem. (Or have more than one person share the responsibility of asking the questions.)
  • Choose a person to be the scribe and write down the participant’s answers to create the group poem. (Ask permission, “May I ask you a question please?” This is respectful and helps the person to focus on the task of answering.)
  • Your goal is to write down the person’s answer as closely as possible to the actual words they use. This will help to strengthen the language of the poem. (If possible don’t paraphrase what they are saying.)
  • Choose a person or group to say the newly created poem with the participants to perform the newly created poem.

During the Session

  •  If possible have the participants in a circle.
  • Start by greeting everyone by saying hello and shaking their hands.
  • Make eye contact with the participants.
  • Work toward memorizing poems.
  • Be aware of posture and body language.
  • When applicable: stand up, move around – being aware you are part of a circle.
  •  Project your voice, articulate every word, look up at your audience.
  • Use call and response to perform the poems with the participants.
  • Have fun.
  • Complement them and your fellow students.
  • End by thanking them for their creativity and shaking their hands and saying goodbye.

Tips On Using Call and Response

  • Say to the participants, “I want to share this poem with you using “call and response, where I say a line of poetry and you repeat after me. I say it then you say it.”
  • Use gestures to emphasize you want them to repeat after you.
  • Point to yourself while you are talking and open hands and arms gesturing to them when it is their time to say the line. 

During one of the poem hold the participant’s hands and move them gently to rhythm of the poem.


Contact and Support

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or help you might need to implement this program.