POETRY BY POETS WITH DEMENTIA

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Volume 1: Love, Life, Loss: A roller-coaster of poetry

by Kate Swaffer (2012)

In this book, Swaffer writes on all sorts of topics, not just dementia. Each of the 83 poems is only short, some spanning just 2 lines. I love that this book is written by a woman with dementia, but dementia does not dominate. It is a simple reminder that life after a diagnosis of dementia can be rich and diverse. Below, I have copied one of my favourite poems from this collection:

Oranges

Do what you have to do

To rip off the peel

Discard thoughtfully

Then get on an enjoy

Foreword by Ioana Petrescu (Poet, and Swaffer’s university lecturer)

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Volume 2: Days with Dementia

by Kate Swaffer (2016)

In this book of poems Swaffer delves deeper into life beyond dementia. As the title suggests, the poems explore the broad spectrum of experiences of living with dementia: from love, to life, to loss. I read this poetry book after reading 'What the Hell Happened to my Brain?' by the same author, so can see many overlapping themes throughout. For example, Swaffer writes of the value of her connection with others through her blog and advocacy work (see 'My imaginary friends'), once again challenges the language we use to talk about dementia (see 'Vacant Dements?') and recounts one experience of receiving poor healthcare which she attributes to the disclosure of her dementia diagnosis (see 'Less than human'). These are just a few of the important messages Kate shares through her poetry. 

Foreword by Amelia Walker, PhD

The first volume can be purchased by contacting Kate Swaffer directly, and volume 2 can be purchased through Ginninderra Press, or through The Book Depository. See 'What the hell happened to my brain?' in the ‘Books by authors with dementia’ tab for further author details


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The Things Between Us

Living Words: Anthology 1

Multiple contributors (2014)

The introduction to this book is written by Susanna Howard, founder of UK-based art and literature organisation, Living Words. She describes her work, started in 2007, in which she visits care homes, nursing homes, hospitals, community and arts centres, and leads residents and community members through a 5-stage program of creation. The therapeutic benefit of creative expression is also discussed in the introduction. This cannot be underestimated.

This book comprises a collection of words and poems of people experiencing dementia, who are living in UK care homes. The poets share their insights on themes of thinking, boredom, time, ageing, people, home, memory, death, life and speaking.

Unfortunately, the names of the authors and contextual information about them is not offered. On this, Howard writes:

“For a variety of reasons the names of the contributors are not included in this publication — their words have to speak for them. As you dip in and out of these words I invite you to take a moment to give them acknowledgement and thanks.” (p. xvii)

This is a lovely collection of simple poems with powerful messages.

Sweet and simple line drawings appear throughout, by illustrator Julia Miranda.

Forewords by Linda Bellingham OBE and Professor Paul M. Camic

Living Words is a registered charity that continues to do amazing work in this space, through a myriad of creative outputs. I recommend you check out their website.


Please feel free to contact me with recommendations! I am always looking for new books to add to the collection!

Reviews to come...