If you wanted a poem, you only had to look out of a window. There was material always, walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.
-Gwendolyn Brooks

Early Stage Workshops

This is the first in a series of poetry workshop models for early stage dementia groups. I want to thank Dr. Richard Taylor for his challenge in expanding programming of the APP to include people in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. You can read more about his work here Alzheimer's from the Inside Out

The poem, "Sun" was written by the Early Stage Dementia Group hosted by the Purchase, New York Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. We began by talking about the occupations of the group. This led to one of the participants talking about her 40 years as a professor of English at a university. I asked her for her favorite poets and she mentioned Gewndolyn Brooks and ee cummings. This led to doing a call and response recitations of Brooks' poem, "We Real Cool" and cummings' "Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town." I recited/performed lines from the poems and had the group repeat after me. The group was spirited and responded to the poem with energy and verve. We then used the poem "Rain," by Hone Tuwhare as our model. First reciting it again using the call and response technique.

The group decided to write a poem using the sun in a similar way that Tuwhare had used rain. I asked for descriptions of the sun and one of the first comments was that the sun was difference throughout the day. We talked about how it changed from dawn to noon to dusk to midnight and that gave us the structure of the poem. I asked for comments and descriptions of the sun at various times throughout the day. The lines of the poem are all direct comments made by the participants, in the order that they made them. We ended the session with my reading the poem and again having the group join in with call and response to various lines.


Different throughout the day.
That's a hot container.
I have to bend over the tools
and make it go where I want it to.
Come here sunny.
Like a hot shower or a hug.
Smells like an ocean breeze.
Smells like an orange.
Don't leave tangerines out.
Sometimes it could be a grapefruit.
Sounds like water dripping over a dam at low tide.
Sounds like light.
Hot as hell.
Hot as the dickens.
Warm as a pussy cat.
The sun at dawn is bright as a new baby.
Even if it's a girl?
Especially if it's a girl.
Babies are babies.
Sky bright.
I guess I have to wake up earlier.
It may be white.
Tastes like Orange Aid.
The sun at noon is bright as fire.
Lime in a coconut.
Feels like a smile.
Sounds like a kiss.
What about in the summer?
Midday like a burning fire.
Hot, uncomfortable.
Need your shade.
Need yours shades.
And your suntan lotion.
And your air conditioner.
Summer is coming soon.
The sun at dusk it gets redder and redder.
Its going out.
The sun is setting.
Who tastes the setting sun?
The midnight sun is black as tar.
The sun tastes like death.
Who looks out their window for the sun at midnight?
We could look for the moon.
We could chop it up into sections, like an eclipse
the shape of the sun on the moon.
Brilliant minds we ought to turn them on.

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