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No author/editor listed as such (see below). Kingston, Ontario: Rideaucrest Home, 2007.

With thanks to Philomene Kocher.

This project is the brainchild of Marjorie J. Woodbridge, Coordinator of Spiritual Care at Rideaucrest Home in Kingston, and poet Philomene Kocher. The flyer that came with a lovely note from Phil Kocher and this small booklet (~13.5 x 11 cm; 36 unnumbered pages) says, “This book is a true collaboration. The persons with dementia spoke all the words and phrases that appear in the poems, and we assisted with creating the poems. As facilitators, we shared haiku with the group and asked prompting questions. They responded in language that was often fragmented, sometimes pithy, and at times luminous.” They mention two forthcoming articles on what they did and how, one on the Soul Sessions program in which this work was done, another on the haiku sessions specifically. If this interests you, you may ask Ms. Kocher for notifications by e-mailing her. (Phil and Marjorie gave a presentation on this work at the Haiku Canada Conference 2007, and may be seen in my review of the conference, at http://haikai.home.att.net/haiku/haikucanada07/program.html#marjorienphil.)

There has been talk about the possible therapeutic use of haiku in North America since Canadian psychologist and poet George Swede brought up the possibility in an article in one of our haiku magazines in the 1970s. In the meantime, Japanese psychiatrists have actively used both haiku and linked poetry (in the traditional renku style) in therapies for various neuroses. This is the first case where I know of either being used to help those with dementia.

Here are a couple of the results of this collaboration which I find interesting and touching:

jumping in puddles
more water in your boots
than out

sitting around the table
grandmothers
remembering grandmothers

I’m glad to have this collection, both as evidence of a useful application of haiku in a situation where we might not have thought of it, and as a human document specific to its time and place, yet relating to all our lives.

Bill

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