Poet helps to collect scattered memories

Jo Colley from the Northern Poetry Library
Jo Colley from the Northern Poetry Library

A poet has discovered an innovative way of bringing poetry to life for dementia sufferers, and others in the community.

Northern Poetry Library poet in residence Jo Colley spent the last few months working with the Morpeth community.

At Riverside House care home she helped dementia sufferers work with scattered memories of poems.

Jo encouraged the group – most in their 80s – to think of snippets of poems, perhaps one line or a collection of words. Using the collected lines they jointly authored a villanelle – a late 19th century poetic form – about the care home and its residents.

Jo said: “Working with the residents of Riverside House was so rewarding. Given the nature of dementia, memories of poems and other literature are often limited to small, fleeting components – parts in isolation from the intended work.

“Using these components we found a way to get the group enthused about poetry and creating for themselves.”

Jo also worked with pupils from Morpeth’s KEVI School, helping them construct poems identifying parts of poetry they enjoy, and spent time with a visually impaired group, with whom she recorded contemporary poems.

Ahead of National Poetry day on October 6, the Northern Poetry Library is urging people to explore poetry.