After an incredibly long (six and a half hour) train journey, on Friday I arrived at Ty Newydd Writers Centre for a 2 night residential Poetry and Dementia course with tutors John Killick and Karen Hayes.
I first signed up for the course around 6 months ago, a little while after I started facilitating creative writing sessions with older people and those with dementia. Up until this point, I had only offered storytelling sessions using TimeSlips, but was very keen to start offering poetry sessions also, after reading I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing in a Nursing Home by Kenneth Koch.
Having read about the work of John Killick and Karen Hayes, who are experts when it comes to writing poetry with people with dementia, and hearing about some of the work Karen did with Collective Encounters in Liverpool, I was keen to attend (if a little daunted by the long journey!).
The house – which hosts a range of creative writing courses and retreats throughout the year – is a lovely setting for the course, with several libraries and reading spots scattered about the place. The food was also really good and I had a lovely king sized bed (always a bonus)! The other people on the course were lovely, and had some really interesting and inspiring thoughts, back stories and career histories.
The course itself was great. I got to hear some of the fantastic poems John and Karen had produced with people with dementia and some of the inspiring stories behind the work. I also learnt lots about the process they use, which was really useful and has given me lots of ideas I’m now excited to try out!