Writing poetry together is a lovely activity for doing over the course of a few weeks. Working on something as a group has a real sense of achievement and camaraderie and the pride in your residents’ faces will be worth it all.
Here are some of our top tips to get you started – you can use these in a group, but also in a one-to-one setting:
- Brain storming, talking about the theme and asking questions. A white board is often useful to capture words and memories mentioned.
- Use reminiscence flash cards to provoke memories and conversations.
- Gather snippets of what everyone says to incorporate later.
- Write your title on a whiteboard or big piece of paper so everyone can remember it.
- Cut words out from magazines that are in-keeping with the theme to spark ideas.
- Go round the room and invite people to say what they remember about your theme, starting with individual memories. This is useful as it means you will have lots of material and ideas to play with.
- Use the five senses to spark memory – what did things sound, feel, taste, smell or look like? (ie the sea will taste salty, sound like crashing, look like azure, feel wet, and rather than just saying, “I walked by the sea,” you can say, “I walked by the salty, azure, crashing waves”. Simple but effective.)
- Start the sessions by reading famous poems together and then using a flip chart or board to write down residents’ ideas based on the theme.
- Try to have a range of poetry to read – long, short, rhyming, not rhyming, one verse, several verses etc – this reinforces the idea that there is no right or wrong when it comes to writing poetry.