There are several ideas you can use to put together collaborative poems from a class. Ours is to combine colors, childhood memories and beauty. There are of course, other options. You can try aromas/smells/taste, or ugly things. Sounds they remember or their first funeral. The possibilities are literally endless.
Do several of these with the class and collect their poems. It’s important to read aloud at least one set of these so allow time at the end for that. Afterwards, put together the work in a collaborative poem and either get it into the facility newsletter or hand write it on poster sized paper and tape it to the wall for them to see later.
As always work with the group as scribes and write down what the people say for those who can’t write well or at all.
Some sample excerpts from an elder class on color
When I was very young I remember I loved red.
I think I was influenced by the fact that I was “dark”
and red was becoming.
My mother had me wear quite a lot of red.
It seemed to be such a favorite with my father.
He saw that my Christmas doll was dressed in red.
My brain is red
My dress is red
My hair is red
Lord have mercy on me
The pomegranates in theBarbadosare red inside
and you know something?
I used to go pick them off the people’s trees
but I didn’t like them
I picked them just for a joke
and they put me in jail
and they gave me a whipping.
Some pieces on “Beautiful”
The most beautiful thing was the sunset inWashingtonD.C.
The most beautiful thing I ever saw was my first dollar bill – so I could buy
candy for my childhood sweetheart.
Redwood trees I saw inCalifornia– their tallness and huge trunks
Pieces on childhood memories
I did so much devilment until I didn’t know my own self. I went to bed
with my dog.
I had a teddy bear that I liked. My dad used to take my toMorningsidePark
to feed the squirrels. I still like to feed them. My husband brings feed, and
the squirrel comes to the window.
I was born inNorfolk,Virginia, and my favorite experience was going to town on the jitney bus. My dad bought my first long pants. I was about nine, ten years old – who knows? I thought I was a big shot when I had my first pair of pants. They couldn’t tell me anything when I had that first pair of pants. I thought I was a big deal in that long pair of pants. I thought I was as big as my father in those pants.