Words of dementia sufferers woven into poetry by Susanna Howard

 

A poet is working with dementia patients to
weave their words into poetry. Susanna Howard, sits with them, often in silence,
jotting down whatever words they utter, and then uses only these utterances to
put a poem together for her collections, Living Words.

The results are poignant and profoundly emotional. At times, they also hint at the failings in our care system. “So many people are saying they want to be cared for and how to be cared for, that they are not listened to, that they are not heard. They are saying ‘this is what I want. This is what I need’,” says Howard.

She works with the terminal patients as well as the elderly, and says healing through words can’t be underestimated. Her refreshing approach exposes the lie behind the cliche of dementia as the “silent” living death. “I think we have a wealth of words inside us throughout our lives and when you have dementia, they are still inside you”, she says.

Howard, whose work has been funded by the Arts Council in the past, has created an innovative collection of poetry books in collaboration with dementia suffers, even though with advanced states of the degenerative illness.

Poems from a recent residency, staged in collaboration with EnglishPEN, can be viewed on 9 April at Europe House, in London.

Poetry by Susanna Howard:

 

All embers

Old fashioned in’t they                      

Sitting there

She wants to get up

They don’t wanna do that do they

Some round here are all embers

That one’s not thinking

He wants to remember it

Can he?

Now, see:

They’ve got habits

 

Number 65

This chair – it’s so dirty feeling                     

I’m not in a running order

Where do you go to when you

Go out?

I keep out of walking mode

With the mainframe

In the convoy – don’t go around much

I wish

Wish I could drive in a big car

Drive away in a car, oh

Oh I, I wish, wish I could

Fly just fly right away

To number 65 – Not

Drifting along at nothing


How I am

 

It’s funny how you can go to a room

And leave yourself

I feel like I’m going a bit mental

Terrible

I can’t even remember me own people

When I’m talking to them

That’s how I am

Nice to be able to talk

 

Some people have machines

 

Some people have machines –                      

They don’t run on.

Others don’t.

 

Sometimes it is overused

Sometimes doesn’t even need reminding

You think it lies with one person

But discover it lies with others:

Some people have machines

Sometimes overused

Others don’t.

 

Some people

 

Omm imm imm                                             

When stuff comes out all

Looolaaalodo

It all comes out

Doo doo doo

Very very very nice:

You can go up in the world

Get it, get it, get it

Some people are different

Yes.

Now.

 

The back doorstep

 

Two or three clever things                            

In the back of my mind

Unfortunately

They seem to stick

To the back of my mind -

You don’t do them.

That expression ‘back of my mind’

Really rather significant:

You forget it’s a phrase

And doesn’t state that you

Are scrubbing the back doorstep

 



Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Arts and Entertainment
Sassoon threw his Military Cross into the Mersey
booksAn early draft of ‘Atrocities’ shows the anti-war sentiment was toned down before publication
Arts and Entertainment
Actors and technicians on the march against changes made by Hollande
theatreOpening performances of the Avignon theatre festival cancelled as actors and technicians walk out
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West performed in a chain mail mask at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park
Rapper booed at Wireless over bizarre rant
Arts and Entertainment

They're back, they're big – and they're still spectacularly boring

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil