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Poetry and Dementia


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Table of Contents

Part One: Introductory. Part Two: Reading Poetry. 2.1 What Poems to Choose. 2.2. Building a Programme. Part Three: Writing Poetry. 3.1. Group-Work and One-to-Ones. 3.2. How to Run Groups. 3.3. Examples of Group-Work Poems. 3.4. Why Do One-to-Ones? 3.5. How to do One-to-Ones? 3.6. The Art of Listening. 3.7. The Art of Transcribing. 3.8. The Art of Editing. 3.9. Ways of Sharing. 3.10. The Present Moment. 3.11. Portraits. Part Four: Issues Arising. 4.1. Ownership of Poems. 4.2. Truth-Telling. 4.3. Aims and Objects. 4.4. Therapeutic Approaches. 4.5. Support for the Poet. 4.6. Evaluation. Part Five: Postscript. Part Six: Resources. 6.1. Recommendations and References. 6.2. Books and Articles. 6.3. Organizations and Websites.

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A guide to facilitating the writing and reading of poetry with people who have dementia for improved mental health and wellbeing

About the Author

John Killick has been the Writer in Residence and Poet Mentor on several Poetry and Dementia projects over the last 25 years. He currently runs a residential Poetry and Dementia course in Wales.


In this wonderful distillation of long experience John Killick shows us the potential of poetry both as a way of stimulating discussion, and of enabling people with dementia to have a voice. Using his own work and that of colleagues, he provides careful guidance which will be invaluable. -- Professor Mary Marshall, Senior Consultant, HammondCare
In his book John shows how by being a skilled listener you can capture what seems to be garbled, mixed-up thinking and using literature knowledge, turn it into a work of art, and present this gift back to the person with dementia in the form of their own personal poem. I felt humbled by this work. -- Agnes Houston MBE
John Killick's work over many years has shown how poetry, through many and varied means, can contribute massively to well-being for people living with dementia. This wise, clear guidance, with choice examples of poems and illuminating accounts, is sure to encourage and help others develop their skills in this rewarding area. -- Sue Benson, Managing Editor, Journal of Dementia Care
In this eminently accessible book, John generously and honestly offers a wealth of advice, guidance and resources that emanate from a lifetime of work in using poetry to hear the voices of people with dementia and to capture their lived experience. John carefully explains the craft of using poetry as a medium for positive person-centred work and in doing so makes this book compulsory reading for anyone involved or interested in poetry and dementia. -- Maria Pasiecznik Parsons, Chief Executive, Creative Dementia Arts Network
Described as a practical guide, it is easy to read and yet conveys the complexity of the effects of the condition dementia and ways of using poetry effectively. His understanding and experience of the work gives authority to his explanation and I found it easy to grasp. [...] I felt that Killick summed up what is now the fundament of my practice when working with people of dementia, 'Acts of kindness are what people with dementia need' -- Clare Scott, Chair, Lapidus International * Lapidus Quarterly *

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