The Poetry of Dementia

Oct 27, 2017

The cohesion of meaning and sequential nature of language are among the casualties of dementia.

Into this context and the environment of six Residential Homes on the Isle of Wight, caring for persons in the advanced state of dementia, local charity, Independent Arts’ Workshop coordinator Kerry Tindall, and creative writing practitioner Ann Emery, together with other supporting writers from Independent Arts spent time working with 80 of their residents during the past 18 months.

Reading aloud poems together in small groups, sharing the experience of poetry and the sound of words, the memories and images they conjure up and recall, practitioners have then gone on to work individually with the participants to record and write down their responses.

‘The poetry of Dementia’ is an exhibition of 19 panels the Independent Arts have made together using specially created photographic images by Kate Ball that sensitively interpret rather that simply illustrate the words spoken by the participants. The images repeatedly play with space and scale to conjure up visual distortions and pose interpretive questions that underpin what’s going on with the language.

Language that reflects and celebrates the marvellous invention and lack of straight forward narrative that arises from dementia. Often entirely new words are invented from the marvellously useful ‘Pigifee’ to the vehemently emphatic ‘SET VEE’. Wonderful new phrases and syntax that make the reader think again about the everyday and familiar world.

“It’s up there now my life,
ending and ending
and you’ve got to hope
you’ve got a number.”

The exhibition ‘Poetry of Dementia’ is on display at Newport Library until the 23rd of November.

Entry is free.

“It came over to us so lovely;
I could feel something coming right
through the back to me
I shall go and vision it”