The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, founded by New York poet Gary Glazner, is not built on the traditional, stand-at-the-podium-and-read poetry recital. Rather, it uses the simple rhymes typically learned in childhood or whimsical works created on the spot with audience participation. The facilitator moves among the seniors, holding their hands, touching their shoulders, gently prodding them to share their thoughts, reawakening long-ago memories.
‘There was a guy in [one] group, his head was down, he wasn’t participating, and I said the Longfellow poem, “I shot an arrow in the air…”‘ Glazner says, recalling the initial workshop that spawned the project. “And his eyes suddenly popped open, and he said, “It fell to earth, I know not where.” In that instant, he was back with us and was able to participate. It was very powerful.”
The Project’s web site has a book for sale with 75 poems they use.