John Killick has been writing poetry with people with dementia for 24 years, and eight books of poetry have emerged from this work. He held the post of Research Fellow in Communication Through the Arts at Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling for six years. He is currently engaged in a research project on the arts and dementia in care homes in north Wales funded by the Social Research Council and based at University of Bangor. He has published six books on communication and creativity in dementia, the most recent being Dementia Positive in 2014. www.dementiapositive.co.uk
Poetry and Dementia
This course is a taster of what’s involved in embarking on creative writing with people living with dementia. It aims to demonstrate the considerable potential for increased health and wellbeing through this work, as well as covering some of the problems that may be encountered. It will explore the characteristics of dementia as they affect communication, truth telling, editing, ownership of material, collaboration with staff and mentoring. The course will be interactive and will use video and sound recordings to illustrate some aspects in a way that will make participation and understanding easy for everyone.
The course will involve a range of different exercises, and communal discussion will be encouraged as the predominant mode of learning. Handouts will be provided, and books and journals will be available for consultation or purchase. At the end of the course, participants will be equipped with the confidence and materials to embark on their own projects.
Karen Hayes specialises in creating poetry involving people with dementia and has published two anthologies, Only Just Orchid and The Edges of Everywhere. She was a dementia consultant for Collective Encounters Theatre in Liverpool, poet-in-residence for Sensory Trust in Cornwall and librettist for Welsh National Opera’s dementia-specific opera film, I Had an Angel. In 2013 she was commissioned by Mindsong to write a dementia-themed community opera, The Bargee’s Wife, and song cycle I Can Hear You Waiting for the Three Choirs Festival. The verbatim methods she uses in her dementia-specific work has translated into work with other groups of marginalised people including children with special needs and profound and multiple learning difficulties. In summer 2016 she was the poet in residence at Charles Causley's house, Cyprus Well.