Please welcome my guest, J. Lynn Sheridan, a poet and fellow Wordsmith Studio member. Read on to learn about the lasting power of poetry and a new poetry site, The Slow Forget, for people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
No doubt, if you ask your favorite poet what’s happening this April, s/he will spout off a few alien acronyms or wordplays—NaPoWriMo, PAD, 30/30, PYP.
April is National Poetry Month and that means an abundance of poeming challenges.
The blogosphere will be buzzy with prompts, free-verse, cinquains, sestinas, and sonnets. Poetry will be dripping from our eyeballs by National Oatmeal Cookie Day on April 30, when we’ll all need a few cookies and a nice mug of milk to wind down from all the meter, iambs, and metaphors.
If you decide to participate, I’ve prepared a few tips on my poetry blog, Writing On the Sun. It’s a loosely structured site chronicling my responses to various poetry prompts plus a sprinkling of biographical sketches.
The Slow Forget
A few months ago, I launched a new poetry blog that is more focused, combining two emotive concepts—Poetry and Dementia/Alzheimer’s.
It’s no secret that the topic of poetics evokes either a twinge of fear or a thrill of anticipation.
It’s always one or the other response.
It’s also no secret that dementia never elicits a thrill of anticipation. It’s a dreaded disease that affects over 5 million Americans.
One of these is my mom. She is slowly forgetting her world, her life, her memories.
It’s painful for her.
It’s painful for us.
So why write poems about a disease?
For two reasons.
Both reasons date back to the ancient world.
First, poetry, as one of the healing arts, is a sensory language that condenses snapshots of an event, an insight, or a journey.
While poetry itself will never heal dementia, it can assist in healing emotions.
Job, of Old Testament biblical times, knew this. The book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible, is written in verse. In it, he was described as a righteous man, who was blessed with health, children, and great wealth. In the blink of an eye, it was all taken away. He records his laments in verse:
My lyre is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the sound of wailing.
Though I don’t own a lyre or a pipe, I can connect with his grief.
And in a strange way, it’s comforting.
Poetry affirms history.
Second, poetry is a tool for recording history.
A memoir in verse, if you may.
One of the oldest surviving epic poems is the Epic of Gilgamesh, from the 3rd millennium BC. Gilgamesh, was king of the ancient Sumerian city-state of Uruk. The story contains an account of a universal flood that parallels the flood of Noah’s day. Some historians believe this poem validates the Babylonian, Phoenician, and Hebrew accounts of an ancient flood.
Here we have history recorded in a poem etched on a tablet.
Moreover, one of the world’s oldest love poems dating from 8th century BC Ancient Babylonian Era, reads like a modern love poem:
Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.
This memoir of love in verse affirms humanity’s continuous yearning for romance.
We all can relate to a love poem.
Even one written on a tablet.
Reviving the Tradition
By penning a word journey of my experiences and insights dealing with my mother’s Alzheimer’s, I’m not only recording family history, I’m remembering for her. All those things she would want to tell her grandchildren, but can’t, I’ll have her memories written in verse.
My main reason, however, is to connect with others who are on the same confusing journey and that’s the purpose of poetry.
Can you relate?
Join me at The Slow Forget.
J.Lynn Sheridan writes poetry and fiction in the Chain O’ Lakes of northern Illinois in a very ordinary house, but she’d rather live in an old hardware store for the aroma, ambiance, and possibilities. She’s been published in several literary journals and anthologies, among them: Beyond the Dark Room, Em Dash Literary Magazine, Four and Twenty Literary Journal, and Garbonzo. Find her in cyber-world at Writing on the Sun, The Slow Forget and on Twitter @J.lynnSheridan.