John has been involved in a poetry project for people with dementia for two and a half years now. It is based at the Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford and is run by the Arts and Older Person’s Officer.
The first phase lasted from April to July in 2011 culminating in a reading at the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the publication of a book of poems made from the words of people with dementia called In the Pink.
The second phase began immediately and resulted in a second book Singing Under Our Breath a year later.
The third phase will last until March 2014. John is mentoring four poets long distance, and they meet quarterly to review progress and he runs training sessions for staff from the care homes, day centres and hospital wards where they work. A third book, postcards and a CD are in preparation.
Here is a poem from the Singing Under Our Breath:
HE TAUGHT ME TO DANCE
That was when that sailor turned up He taught me to dance in the night And he was drunk That was in Hereford I remember there was a parquet floor With lots of knots in it But it was polished up to the nines And that’s where we went to dance.
I don’t know whether he was teaching me Or I was teaching him He took me round anyway It was naughty but nice He said goodnight And went And I said “Thank God for that!” I never seen him again. MOLLY MULLINGER