Poetry for Life Webinar

>>Eleanor: Good afternoon, everyone, and
welcome to the Poetry for Life webinar. Thank you so much for joining us. My name Eleanor Billington and I’m the program
manager for Literature and Arts Education and before I introduce my colleagues who are
also going to be presenting I want to address a few housekeeping rules. Our PowerPoint presentation today will be
followed by a brief Q&A. You can submit questions at any time on your
screen. And we’ll be using the Q&A box below the PowerPoint. We will do our best to address as many questions
as we can during the time we have. Please remember not to use the raised hand
at the top of your screen in the middle there. Also note that you’ll be muted and only be
able to hear the presenters. The webinar will be archived on both the poetryoutloud.org
and the arts.gov websites in just a couple of days for your reference. I want to introduce your speakers to get us
going. Beth Bienvenu.is the Director of Accessibility
at the National Endowment for the Arts. Beth, do you want to say a few words about
your portfolio and introduce yourself?>>Beth: Sure. Thank you, Eleanor. I’m really happy to be here. Like Eleanor said, I’m the director of accessibility
here at the N.E.A. I work to make the arts accessible for people
with disabilities as well as older adults, trends, and people living in institutional
settings. I work very closely with the State Arts Agencies
in several capacities including working with the accessibility coordinators to help ensure
accessibility for people with disabilities, and also working with the Communities of Practice
in arts, health, and aging, which I’ll talk about in a few minutes. ??>>Eleanor: Thank you, Beth. Gary Glazner is the director of Poetry for
Life. He’s also the founder of that program. Gary is on the line with you. Do you mind saying hello to everyone? ?
>>Hi, everybody. Thank you for being here. ??
>>Thanks, Gary. From Missouri, we have Ginny Sanders. Ginny is the Poetry Out Loud coordinator in
Missouri. Ginny, please say hello.>>GInny: Hello, this is Ginny Sanders and
I’m the Missouri Arts Council’s Poetry Out Loud coordinator and also the A.D.A. coordinator.>>Eleanor: Thank you, Ginny. Thank you to everybody who’s presenting today. So before we get started with the meat of
our presentation, I’m going to give everyone a little bit of an overview about the Poetry
Out Loud program. In 2005 the National Endowment for the Arts
and the Poetry Foundation joined together with 53 state and jurisdictional arts agencies
to create Poetry Out Loud, a program that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about
great poetry through study, memorization, and performance. As many of you on the phone knows students
choose poems from an anthology of over 900 selections and they recite them in competition. Since the program began, more than 3.3 million
students in 12,000 high schools and 50,000 teachers have participated in Poetry Out Loud. In addition, more than $1 million in prizes
and school stipends have been awarded to state and national finalists. We’re really, really proud of the program’s
growth in terms of the numbers but also very excited by the way that Poetry Out Loud has
become a staple in many schools and communities and has inspired partnerships such as Poetry
for Life. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Beth
to talk a little bit about Communities of Practice. ??>>Beth: Thank you, Eleanor. The NEA. has been working with the National
Center for Creative aging for the past several years on their Communities of Practice in
arts. health, and aging – otherwise known as the Engage initiative. Over the years we’ve worked with 40 states
to participate in this project working to support arts programs for older adults throughout
their states. These have included partnerships with other
state agencies on aging, new grant initiatives, arts learning programs, and training for art
organizations across the states. And we’ve been thrilled with the types of
work they’ve been doing and the success that they’ve had in building the field of creative
aging. One project that we’re doing right now with
NCCA is developing a website to kind of embed this program and give the opportunity to communicate
with their constituents and people across the country about what they’re doing for creative
aging. And each state will have its own page and
we’re hoping to launch it in May. So we hope that you’re working with your web
developers and other folks to develop these pages, these templates and be sure to include
any activities that you’re doing with Poetry for Life so you can advertise this wonderful
program. So I’ve been excited to work with all of you
on this and I think now we can ahead and turn it over to Gary will talk more about the Poetry
for Life Program. Gary… ??>>Gary: Good afternoon. Thanks, everyone for being here. Beth, Eleanor, Ginny, thanks so much for your
support. Especially thanks to Lauren Tuzzilino, the
accessibility specialist with the NEA for all of her hard work in putting the webinar
together. I want to thank all the Poetry Out Loud and
Communities of Practice people at the State Arts Agencies for joining us today and a big
thanks to all the states that have already participated. I also want to thank Steve young and the Poetry
Foundation. Steve and I have worked closely on Poetry
for Life and he’s helped plan the project from the beginning. Today I’m going to share some stories and
poems of the students and elders that we’ve had the honor of working with. And I’ll share our goals and our hopes and
we’re going to walk through how you can help your schools, teachers, students get involved
with Poetry for Life. Before we begin talking about Poetry for Life,
I want to share with you how I got started using poetry with people living with Alzheimers
disease and related dementia. In 1997 I received a small grant to give a
series of workshops at an adult day care center in Northern California. There was no instruction on what to do just
to use poetry. I hit on the idea of using classic poems people
might have learned as children. My moment of inspiration and the story that
I love to share: there was a man in the group, his head was down, he wasn’t participating,
seemingly unaware of his surroundings, but I said the Longfellow poem “I shot an arrow
into the air” and his eyes popped open. He said, “It fell to earth I knew not where.” Suddenly he was back with us and able to participate
and I was hooked. It showed me how powerful those poems could
be, how useful classic poetry could be with this community. Since that time I’ve created the Alzheimer’s
Poetry Project and we’ve done programming in 26 States and internationally in Australia,
Canada, England, Germany, Poland, and South Korea. In 2013 I had the idea of bringing students
participating in Poetry Out Loud to work with elders and people living with memory loss. I began by talking with Steve Young about
the idea and looking at what had worked in the early days of the formation of Poetry
Out Loud.Steve was supportive and helped plan the pilot project and the Poetry Foundation
has supported the pilot project since its inception. We’ve now done programming in nine states. The pilot project has worked with 26 schools,
450 students in 94 poetry workshops, and we’ve served 844 older adults including those living
with memory loss. Some schools have continued to go on the poetry
field trips beyond the initial training. One example is Cleveland Central High in Cleveland,
Mississippi, and I’m thrilled to report that they’ve continued to go to the local hospital
on a monthly basis and are now expanding the program to include other schools in the area. Our goal is to have a minimum of ten percent
of the 315,000 students who take part in Poetry Out Loud to participate in Poetry for Life. This would bring over 30,000 students to work
with older adults. It would change the scope of creative aging
volunteers in the U.S. I want to share with you the writing of one
of the students on his experience. This is Cody Tulip of Durand High and Durand,
Wisconsin and Cody writes, “I have to admit coming into today I did not expect much from
this workshop. I work with the elderly on a daily basis due
to my after-school job as a nursing assistant. Upon entering the nursing home I recognize
some people I know either from my job or due to the fact that I live in a tiny rural town
in Wisconsin. A woman named Dorothy especially moved me
– her Alzheimer’s is so significant she could not remember her name and she thought I was
one of her grandchildren. At first she did not want to partake in the
poetry activities, but once we began to do the rhythmic poems by Emily Dickinson her
face was filled with happiness and she gripped my hands with such force I almost had to retreat
my hand. It was at this moment I was shown the absolute
power poetry has over Alzheimer’s.” So that’s Cody. I don’t think I could have asked for a stronger
endorsement if I had asked him to write the essence of this work than when he writes “I
was shown the absolute power poetry has over Alzheimer’s. So what is creative aging? Creative aging is the practice of engaging
older adults, 55-plus, in participatory arts programs with a focus on the social engagement
and skills mastery. As we heard from Beth the National Center
for Creative Aging who works with the NEA on Communities of Practice is dedicated to
fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and healthy aging
and to developing programs that build on this understanding. And we’re excited that NCCA is helping us
with Poetry for Life. So creative aging is about social engagement,
mastering skills, using creative expression, all with the goals of healthy aging and improving
your quality of life. Some of the research that supports using arts
with the elders begins with this 2006 study by Dr. Jean Cowan which was sponsored by the
NEA entitled Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally conducted Cultural
Programs on Older Adults. At the end of the webinar there’s links to
all the studies that I’m going to mention this talk. One highlight from the study was these results
point to true health promotion and disease prevention effects. The study also stated these community-based
cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing the risk factors that drive
the need for long-term care. So that leads us to our next slide and the
aging of America and the need for arts programs. We all know about the increase in the elderly
as the baby boomer generation ages, so here area few of those statistics that show that
increase. As we look at these sobering statistics I
can report from a recent survey among the most popular songs for baby boomers are Jailhouse
Rock by Elvis Presley, That’ll be the Day – Buddy Holly and the Crickets, What I Say,
Ray Charles, I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Beatles, and my favorite, The Twist, by Chubby
Checker. On a side note, I’m happy to report that I
was the twist champion in second grade at PS 124 in Staten Island, New York. I’m sure you have your own list of favorite
songs and hopefully you are desk dancing to them now. So what’s the connection with poetry and dementia? So while not all the people we work with will
have dementia many of the elders we work with will have some memory loss and our work with
the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project there are a few studies I point to that support using
poetry with people living with dementia and elderly in general. The 2004 study done in Germany showed that
the heart rate and pulse were lowered during poetry recitation indicating a reduction in
stress. The 2007 study done at the University of Liverpool
in England showed increased synaptic activity in the language centers of the brain in response
to a poetry technique that Shakespeare made use of – that one’s called Shakespeare’s Brain. So we have a lowering of stress and an increase
in the activity in the language centers of the brain in response to poetry. What we see anecdotally is people becoming
more social, laughing, expressing joy. And there’s another study done in England:
poetry written by people given a diagnosis of dementia and it found that there’s significant
emotional and psychological benefit gained from being able to access the creative part
of one’s identity. We’re also doing our own research and have
studies published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the Gerontologist
and Dementia – all of these are peer-reviewed journals and each of the papers we’ve had
published has shown strong results. I’m excited to say that Poetry for Life has
a research component – we have the students take a survey before and after the poetry
workshop – we’re looking to see if they change their attitudes toward the elderly and people
living with dementia by observing them engaged in poetry. We based this work on the study we did with
medical students that was published in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
and it will greatly expand the number of people included in that project. Again all the links these papers are at the
end of the webinar or just ask and I’m happy to send you the PDF information package that’s
based on the webinar. So the benefits of Poetry for Life: among
the benefits are the opportunity to reinforce what the students have learned in Poetry Out
Loud and a chance to try the skills outside of the classroom in a real-world setting. In talking with Amber Wolf, the teacher in
Mississippi who has continued Poetry for Lifefor over two years on a monthly basis she mentioned
how the program helps to build empathy. Wolf writes, “I really love my students and
I feel like me and my students have become more connected through this program.” She goes on to say, “Empathy is not a natural
occurrence in our brain, it is something that has to be taught. I’ve noticed that my students, even though
they’re already kind and loving children, they become significantly more empathetic
through this program. They become more open-minded individuals.” And she closes by saying, “One of the students
is a shy kid and he has become more willing to share his emotions with others which is
something i did not see happening, I did not expect that occurrence and it’s been beautiful.” So now we’re going to hear from Virginia Saunders
of the Missouri Arts Council on her experience with Poetry for Life. And I should mention what a wonderful partner
Virginia has been. She has a real passion and a skill for building
community and bringing people together. One example is each year with Poetry Out Loud
she has the legislators write proclamations for the students and host a lunch so that
they can meet each other and get to know each other. So here’s Virginia.>>Ginny: Thank you Gary. Thank you for this opportunity. Gary and I have done several Poetry for Life
projects together. The last project was a four city tour conducting
eight workshops in four days. We traveled north, south, east, and west. The tour made it possible through a partnership
with the MC 50 coalition celebrating care continuum change. This is a group dedicated to changing the
culture of aging across Missouri – the Alzheimer’s Association and the Missouri Arts Council. The four city tours – Missouri had over 375
participants. The morning workshops were targeted to professional
caregivers. The afternoon sessions targeted the Poetry
for Life project which included students, family members, caregivers, and in in each
location we had different stages of Alzheimer’s patients and others with cognitive disorders
including traumatic brain injuries. Over the past few years we have had several
high schools involved in the Poetry for Life project. They have included in inner city public schools,
college prep high schools, private schools, small town schools, suburban schools, and
home school groups. The presentation settings have varied from
very institutionalized care facilities to upscale care centers in public settings. Gary’s style of teaching lends itself to both
the elders and the students. One example comes to mind. Gary was working with a homeschool group and
asked a student what his hobby was. The student replied, Making things out of
duct tape. Gary was undaunted – a roll of duct tape was
produced and Gary had the student make an arrow out of the tape and had him use a plastic
coat hanger for a bow. The arrow in the song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
was the poem. You can guess what happened next: “I shot
an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I know not where, first so swiftly it flew the
site, could not follow it in its flight. The student pretended to be the arrow and
flew around the room and landed on the floor. Both students and elders dealing with Alzheimer’s
really got into it and before long the room was filled with laughter. It never ceases to amaze me how soon the students
– or as Gary likes to call them, young knowledge seekers, lose their apprehensions about working
with the elders. On the other hand the smiles and laughs that
come from the elders working with the Poetry for Life program has given me a better understanding
of the potential we have with working with those with memory loss and how students can
be a powerful resource when working with that community. Poetry for Life is a companion and complimentary
add-on to Poetry Out Loud. I see the students develop confidence, lose
the discomfort of public speaking, and the joy of giving of themselves. Each group has come away with a better understanding
in what they can do to improve the life of someone else and how much better they feel
about helping others. My goal for 2017 is to add 10 additional schools
to the program. I close with this comment from the student
that attended a Poetry for Life workshop: “I had no clue what to expect in this class. I put class in quotes because it was definitely
a different feel like a class which was a good thing. I learned a lot. I guess I thought I’d be sitting through a
lecture on why poetry can help Alzheimer’s patients but instead my friends and i were
called upon to talk about our hobbies, places we have been and things we have like in front
of the seniors. Our teachers started to make poetry and songs
of the things we had said. Everyone helped out. At the beginning the seniors weren’t talking
much but as we had a chance to engage them with fun activities they began to speak up. Some of them started telling us about their
past experience which is really cool considering some of them were Alzheimer’s patients. I laughed a lot and so did everyone else. It was so much better than I had expected
and I had a great time. This group of students will be developing
an outreach program for seniors with the guidance of some dedicated parents. The Missouri Arts Council is proud of its
accomplishments through the Poetry Out Loud and the Poetry for Life projects. Thank you.>>Elanor: Thank you Virginia.>>Gary: So these are a couple of statements
from our very first session that took place in North Carolina. Emily Lemoyne writes about the benefits to
students including seeing the joy and excitement that they can bring to people and she expressed
how she wants to do the project every year. Otto von d’Addis, the past program director
for North Carolina Arts wrote, “It was an incredible experience watching the elders
respond to the youth and the youth being fed by their responses.” So how do we participate in Poetry for Life? We are asking that you help in outreach to
the teachers. We’ll work with you to add outreach text as
you communicate with the teachers throughout the year. We’ll be using a template that we’ve developed
with the Missouri Arts Council and we can custom design this for each of the State Arts
Agencies depending on your needs. So what are the action steps? Let us know you want to participate and we
will work with you to develop that text to invite the teachers and schools to take part. Teachers will receive Poetry for Life support
including live classroom webinars to plan the field trips to work with elders. So depending on when in the Poetry Out Loud
schedule the field trip takes place it can be used in many different ways: If it’s in
the fall you can use it to help recruit students to Poetry Out Loud. As the season progresses into the late winter
and into January through March you can use it as an opportunity for the students to go
out and prepare to participate in the contest. And after the contest is over it can be used
to give another chance to recite the poems and use the skills the students have learned. One of the things we’ve heard so many times
is that the students work so hard on the poem it’s wonderful to give them a chance to use
it again. So the school participation breaks down into
two main models: the first is the workshop model and the second is a service learning
model. The workshops typically take place in one
day but it can be adjusted to fit the school’s needs and take place over several days. It breaks down into three components: the
introduction, the poetry field trip, and student writing. Poetry for Life will support the introduction
workshop with a live webinar with the classroom. These webinars will be done by myself and
the eight teaching artists that I work with on the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. They get an overview of Alzheimer’s Poetry
Project methods and techniques, they learn how to build a poetry program for older adults,
they learn some of the biology of the basics of Alzheimer’s and related dementia, and they
get help in planning for the field trip. And typically this introduction workshop is
an hour in length. So the poetry field trip: we will provide
the teachers with a script to help them contact their local assisted living adult daycare
or senior centers to help them facilitate booking the field trip. The teachers and students travel to the local
centers, the students perform poetry with the older adults using Alzheimer’s Poetry
Project methods and techniques, they recite their poems from Poetry Out Loud , and typically
the poetry field trip takes an hour plus travel time. The third component is the student writing
– so following the field trip the students write about their experiences. Students may write in a prose style, a who-what-where-when-why
journalistic type piece like we heard Jennie Reid from Kaiden in Missouri, and the students
may create poems. We found that the students strongly value
the opportunity to write about their experience. This may also enhance the Poetry Out Loud
curriculum and many schools with established programs are looking to build on Poetry Out
Loud and include opportunities for the students to write. So here’s a poem that was written by Jaylon
Bell, the 2014 Arkansas state champion and he wrote this: Minds like locked boxes/Presented
in the round/I used language like keys/And love is what i found/Love for the now and
for history/And the love was unlocked/With the key of poetry. The second model is the service learning model,
We typically start with the workshop and then build on that experience. Service learning provides the students with
a longer period of time and more opportunity to interact with the older adults. Poetry for Life works with the students and
teachers to custom design a service-learning program to fit the school and the students
needs. We’ve had many different levels of commitment
but we’ve had an example as an eight-week project at Tupelo High in Mississippi and
we’re now in the middle of a year-long project we’re doing with Brooklyn Tech. In the service learning project one of the
techniques that we use is for the students to take an oral history from the adult. The older adult. Once they record the oral history and transcribe
it we work with them to shape the oral history into a poem. Here’s an example of an oral history poem
from Jose Mondragon we worked with in Santa Fe New Mexico. This is Jose’s poem on his experience of being
buried alive in a copper mine. Copper mine. The rope was like a rope/ you would tie a
horsewhip/about as thick as a quarter/to pull you up or down/ out of the mine/ the whole
thing came sliding down/I put my hands against the board/Oh God, that is all I say/ they
tell me I don’t see myself/ I was in a little hole about as big as my body/ in the mine,
in the shoot/I held my breath, I passed out/they tell me I don’t see myself/a bunch of water/
blue blue copper mining water/it was running all around/dirt coming down the shaft/the
board came down/I was standing to one side/looking up to the top/looking up to my partner/I could
see his light/the dirt came down like snow/I stuck my head underneath the board/they put
me on a stretcher/they brought me up the shaft/they had one little cage/it could only hold two
men/they put me in the cage/standing straight up on the stretcher/I passed out/they took
me to the hospital/they put me in the hospital freezer/like I was dead/I said, God help me/they
tell me I never saw myself. So the benefits of the service-learning include
enriching the learning experience, teaching civic responsibility, helps to strengthen
communities, builds empathy, it’s a deepening of the experience of performing poetry, and
reinforces the practical uses of recitation skills. It gives the students an increased sense of
social development and of the aging process, increased awareness of career opportunities
in the healthcare field, meaningful involvement in the local community, and interaction with
people of diverse ages, cultures, and lifestyles. Here’s one last poem by Heidi Hankins who
participated in Charleston, Mississippi. She writes about her experience: Shaking youthful
hands/with wrinkled hands/Knowing that one day/my hair will be/as white as their’s/One
day I might need/young smiles/With mouth full of teeth/to smile at me/An extra boost/to
make me smile/Shaking youthful hands/with wrinkled hands/is what changed my life. And now we are towards the end and have a
chance to have some question and answers.>>Eleanor: Hi Gary thank you so much and thank
you Ginny too. So as Gary just mentioned we have up on the
screen the Poetry for Life resources so these are things that are available if you’re interested
in participating. And there’s more information at the website
that’s right up on the screen there. So we have time for questions if you’d like
to submit them. Again, you can use the Q&A box that’s on your
screen there and those questions will come to us and we can field them. So to start us off I wanted to ask Gary and
Ginny a little bit about what it’s like to get teachers involved in this, in this program
because we know that teachers have a lot on their plates, they’re really busy. So I’m curious either Ginnny or Gary, both
of you guys, what has it been like to recruit teachers and what is the response been from
the teachers who have participated.>>Gary: I can answer first and then we could
hear from Ginny. So far the response has been really great. I mean the teachers are self-selected so they’re
you know already up for taking a field trip. It’s been pretty easy to get them involved
and we anticipate being able to support them with the live webinars in the classroom will
be really effective and we have done this with other schools in the pilot project to
see you know how it works if there’s not a teaching artist live in the room with them. And it’s worked really well.>>Ginny: What I find is the teachers that
are very excited about Poetry Out Loud are not opposed to having an additional element
added to it. The students are mostly apprehensive at the
very beginning but after you talk to them and you talk through it and they find out
actually what they’re going to be doing they kind of get excited about it. Most of the teachers that I’ve worked with
are teachers that have been in the Poetry Out Loud program for several years so there’s
not any apprehension about moving forward.>>Eleanor: Okay thank you Ginny and thank
you Gary. We have a couple questions that like I said
we’ll go through and answer as many as we can with the time we have. So there’s a question about, about structure
and how this is implemented. One of our participants wants to know is Are
POL coordinators the ones who are implementing and managing Poetry for Life or is it the
creative aging staff member or do just some SAAs hire a Poetry for Life coordinator or
do you work with an outside person to manage this aspect of your POL program.>>Gary: So, I think that all of those are
possibilities and this… one of the side benefits of this webinar is to really bring
together the Poetry Out Loud coordinators and the people at the State Arts Agencies
that are working on communities of practice because I don’t think there’s been that much
crossover at this point. And, so, that would really be what the state
arts agency sees as the best you know person to interact to manage it is whether it comes
from Poetry Out Loud or it could come from communities of engagement or it could be a
combination of people working on it together. Certainly there’s the potential as some state
arts agencies do hire outside Poetry Out Loud coordinators that as the project grows and
develops that that could be a possibility as well. And we’ve also structured it so there can
be minimal, you know, depending on the state arch agency’s level of commitment they can
just be helping us to reach out to teachers and getting them involved or they can be more
involved. For instance, Arkansas uses it as a way to
teach Poetry Out Loud teachers and bring this brings me and to you know give a talk along
with their Poetry Out Loud coordinator. Mississippi has used it extensively on a three-month
project throughout the state with with three different cities. So there’s lots of different ways to structure
that and we want to make it work for you.>>Eleanor: Thank you Gary.>>Ginny: I guess I have an advantage because
I am both the communities practice person and the Poetry Out Loud coordinator. And what I have found is working with different
outside groups is a great talking point. This MC5 group in Missouri has been very helpful
in facilitating and moving forward with getting Poetry for Life out within the public.>>Eleanor: Thank You Ginny. Thank you Gary. We have another question about the resources
that are required. So what does the commitment look like from
the states and what are the resources required from the states in order to implement Poetry
for Life?>>Gary: So, again, it can be really a pretty
wide range of level of commitment. One of the things that Ginny and I have worked
on is to look at the way that Missouri communicates with the teachers throughout the year. So that’s the first point is just we would
add language to those email blasts that you’re sending out to let teachers know about it.
and then.. so that resource would just be adding to that communication. And then beyond that you know people like
I mentioned before have different levels of commitment where they really want to you know
to fund projects or to you know to expand it and so that’s something that we can work
with you for each state to really make this work for your needs and the level of commitment
you’re able to give to it.>>Eleanor: Thank you Gary. So it sounds like you all are very flexible
and again you’re you’re doing what works for the state and for that particular POL program
which is really wonderful. We have a question, a specific question about
teachers and teacher preference. The question is, Have you found that teachers
request the training webinar for times during the school day or do they request the training
after school?>>Gary: Again, that’s been both. Both situations. So some, some Poetry Out Loud functions as
you know as a poetry club that takes place after school and so that typically would take
place during those hours. But many of the teachers use it in their classroom. I would say the majority of teachers we’ve
worked with have used it during the classroom setting.>>Eleanor: Thank you Gary. I have one follow-up question which is a little
bit of an I guess ancillary but I’m curious about the staff at the centers for the adult
day care or elder care facilities. Do you work with staff at all, is there any
involvement between the staff that are there and the students and the teachers that come
onsite?>>Gary: So I’m so glad that you asked that
Eleanor. That’s actually one of the really cool parts
of this program. So we’ve only focused on the side of, you
know, Poetry Out Loud and how the students and teachers can work together with the State
Arts agencies but I also use a lot of the techniques that Poetry Out Loud uses. For instance, the concept of tone mapping
– right? We use that to teach the health care workers
how to recite poetry as well, so there’s a whole other component of Poetry for Life that’s
teaching the health care workers, even family members to use poetry as well. And that can be interaction with the students
and the teachers, can be things that they use on their own, and even with some of the
senior centers that we’ve worked with we teach the elders a lot of the recitation skills. And as one example last week in Brooklyn with
Brooklyn Tech we came to an adult day care center, the New York Memory Center and we
used the technique of, you know, taking the line of poetry and then adding an emotional
tone to it – right – so the tone mapping idea and the line had something about a smile in
it and so we each went around and said how can we put a smile at our voice to say the
line and the elders and the students both did that technique. So it really can be broken down in the workshops
to… through the skills that the students are learning to build up anyway. And it was really fun to pass around the smile
and and saying that line.>>Beth: Hi Gary. This is Beth at the NEA again. Just a follow-up question: Have you seen any
impact on the staff at the care facilities in terms of their morale, their mood, their
effectiveness? I’m sure you’re aware of studies in the healthcare
system that shows that arts in health care settings have had an effect on the nursing
staff and other staff in the hospitals. But what have you seen in the in the care
facilities with this program?>>Gary: So in general what we see is when
the professional caregivers or family caregivers watch the person participate in performing
the poems, creating poems, that they see the person is more fully human, and that of course
has benefits to how they get cared for. Because if you’re seeing that person as more
fully human you know the level of care is going to go up. So we’ve seen that and that’s really highlighted
in the study that was published working with the medical students, that’s exactly what
we looked at. And so we see that across the board. It’s pretty dramatic and I think that’s a
real underlying benefit from this. It changes the stigma of having memory loss,
it changes how we think about aging. The students, the students totally change
how they think about aging, which is is funny. One of them, after a session, they served
popcorn and she said I thought old people only ate mush and now I know they eat popcorn. So that’s kind of a silly example, but it
really does change how how people perceive aging and memory loss.>>Eleanor: Thank you Gary. I have two more logistical questions. The first is, Is there a fee associated with
the training webinars for teachers or for students, and is there a fee associated with
program guidance from Poetry for Life?>>Gary: So I’m happy to say that there is
not a fee, that we have funding in place to do this work and I think that that makes it
you know easy for people to say yes to because there’s not a charge for it.>>Eleanor: Thank you Gary. I have another question about transportation. So who is responsible for transportation? Does it differ based on the type of group
that you’re working with? Does Poetry for Life take care of that?>>Gary: So that is a place where we do ask
the schools to contribute. So we do ask that they provide the transportation. Depending on the school, like some of them
you know they’re all older students who drive to school and so we actually everybody drove
themselves, you know we went in groups but we drove ourselves. But many of the schools have transportation
systems – they have buses and things and so we ask that the school contributes that.>>Ginny: I’ve had some experience with that
and some of the public schools will provide transportation if they know about it earlier. Some of the private schools arrange, they
have their own system. Most of them have like little vans that they’ve
transported people, the students from place to place. And in other instances parents have brought
the high school students to the facilities like it was like a field trip and the parents
just came and they brought some of the kids and that eliminated they fee for the school
and the school that you have to worry about providing a bus transportation. So there’s many ways you can look at that
issue. In a lot of it that I’ve talked through it
depends on your school, your contact at your school, and who you’re working with, that
type of thing. But it can be resolved.>>Eleanor: Thank you. So I have another follow-up question about
SAA involvement. And the question is, Once a teacher in a school
expresses interest in Poetry for Life then they are connected directly to Poetry for
Life staff? And at that point is the SAA not as involved
anymore – is that correct?>>Gary: So, again, this is really individual
choice. So it can function that the State Arts Agency
helps to make the contact and that’s the level of commitment that they’re comfortable with. But, of course, we encourage people to be
more involved and you know I can see people going out and attending the poetry workshops
and and the field trips especially, so that really depends on the level that people want
to be involved at.>>Beth: Okay, this is Beth again. I’m getting back to some of the more the larger
questions about about this approach. You mentioned the benefits of poetry for older
adults and those with dementia – what is unique about poetry versus other art forms such as
music or dance or visual art? I know that we have, we’re preaching to the
choir here because everybody is very committed to poetry, but in terms of making the case
to funders or to other stakeholders what is unique about about poetry in this in this
intergenerational setting?>>Gary: So one of the things that’s so interesting
about it and it does it does share similarities with with music especially. But i think that there’s, if we look at sort
of history of humankind, right, if we go back and we see like how did people keep track
of their history of the local stories before there was written word? And the way that one of the ways that we did
that was through oral poetry. So I’m thinking like you know going back to
Homer or the griot tradition in African cultures and you have this poet that’s keeping track
of that. So one of the ideas and this comes from Jane
Hirshfield, a wonderful west coast poet, and she has this idea that at our core as people
we use poetry as a memory device. We used rhyme and rhythm and especially you
know best words in the best order or you know poetic beautiful language. We use that very early on and so how does
that manifest itself? So if you’re working with a person that has
memory loss and you say “Quote the raven” many people will say “Nevermore.” And so it’s this popping in of these things
that they’ve learned. But also and this really builds on Poetry
Out Loud because there’s a power and a beauty in recited, performed poetry and that is the
strength that we tap into. But I think that it shares you know dance
there’s a strength in dance, visual arts, I mean all the arts work and there’s there
are programs in all of those different arts that work with older adults and work with
people with memory loss. But I think that there’s something very unique
about poetry and it’s the way that we support it by using our breath to say it, has an aerobic
benefit. It’s the way that we can engage people in
performing it together. So you know those kinds of techniques. And of course you know I’m a poet so I’m I’m
really for poetry.>>Beth: And as another question along those
lines: have you experienced any problems in getting into the memory care facilities and
assisted living facilities and working with them to bring the students in? Any advice from either you or Ginny on working
in those facilities?>>Gary: So generally they are over the moon
when you call up and say you know I have a group of students that I want to bring and
we want to come and do poetry with your elders. They’re usually really accommodating and and
in the webinar I mentioned that we would part of it the thing we can support the teachers
with is to give a little script so that they you know you’re typically going to talk to
the activities director, these are the things you’re saying we’re going to do, and so they’re
all set up to have you come. And so it’s quite easy to get them to say
yes.>>Eleanor: All right thank you thank you all
so much, and a special thanks to Gary and to GInny for presenting on Poetry for Life. We don’t have anymore questions right now
and so I think that this has been really very helpful for everybody on online. We’re also going to archive it, so please
if you you know if you had colleagues that wanted to attend today and were not able to
do to schedule conflicts will have the archive available. Gary’s contact information is up on the screen
for you all right now and he is the best place and person to follow up with. But you know if there are state arts agency
folks on the line who are POL people and they have any questions for me about the program
side of this, please don’t hesitate you know to reach out to us too. I work with Gary and with Steve Young at the
Poetry Foundation so we all are a team and we work together and are really excited about
the expansion of Poetry for Life.So thank you all for joining us today – we really appreciate
your time. We know that you’re busy and we will, again,
archive this and we’ll send everyone the link. So thank you all and have a good afternoon.

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