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100 Days of Penpositive Reading Campaign

Today is the 100th day of my Penpositive Reading Campaign and many more to go. I had started this campaign reading a poem of Mahmoud Darwish and yesterday I read one of Miron Biashowski. Over the past 99 days I read poems of poets from Italy, Hungary, america, china, japan, Germany, turkey, Spain, Russia and so on.

Through their poems I was able to see life and the world around and of course learn a bit of history. What I found was that they all voiced for freedom. They fought oppression they stood on the side of the masses.

So on the 100th day I decided I will dedicate a poem to all those people who fight for Freedom of Speech all over the world. Not a poem from any famous poet.. but my own few words I call poetry

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My First Poetry Reading to Folks with Alzheimer’s

dependent-826332_1280A month back as part of Penpositive I visited an Alzheimer’s and dementia care center to read some poetry. I connected with them quite accidently. I have this habit of just typing poetry at places where people do not type like say job sites. I mean who would advertise for a poet. But I did just that and stumbled on this request to do a reading.

I have not directly been in contact with people with Alzheimer’s though I did know a little about the painful aspects of it. I always wanted to use poetry in a way it benefits people and the society. For me poetry is about love and enjoyment and sense of purpose and responsibility to people around you. And it looked like a good evening to spend reading poetry.

I was not sure what to read, but after I spoke to the person in the center they said something funny and light would be good. I selected a few poems and also made sure they were simple. I had a doubt if my Indian accent would be a handicap but I have always felt that if you read from the heart people listen with the heart. So I was there promptly with a few books.

text-63559_1280They were having a small feast the next day and were decorating the place. Since there was some time I went ahead and helped them put on some of the decorations and then when it was time we went to the dining area or common room where they were watching the TV.

I was cautioned earlier that since people were in varied levels of the ailment the response to my poems might be a bit compromised. The room had around 25 people and a few were seated in the front where I stood and read. I read a few poems and did get response from the people in the front. Some smiled and all eagerly listened. Yes a few people were sleepy too as they just had their lunch.

In between I also had some folks come over and talk. I guess after 20 minutes into it I could feel that folks were losing interest and then one lovely gentleman said “Thank You for reading those wonderful poems to us; I hope now we can get to the TV and see it from where we left it” It reminded me of my son whom I would pull away from the TV and make him read. There are some experience one cannot explain in words, may be I can one day in a poetry.

Coming back home I did some research on the poetry and Alzheimer’s and found this site that talks about the role poetry can play in healing and support of Alzheimer’s. I also understood that reading popular poetry were better as that helps exercise thoughts since those might be poems they have heard before or even memorized before. I also came to know of the ALZHEIMER’S POETRY PROJECT  it is a blog that showcases poetry written by people living with Alzheimer’s. I would recommend you all to visit here and read the wonderful world of words creatively pulled from a memory that is not like before

I am now trying to learn more on this and other areas where poetry readings will help and any suggestions and opinions and opportunities to do so are welcome and I will surely find my time to read… If you do not mind the thick accent… but it comes straight from the heart and has an extra spoon of passion I add to it

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‘Midstream’ By German poet Johannes Bobrowski – Day 90 of Penpositive Reading Campaign

Drifting down with the rafts,
in the lighter grey of the strange
shore, in a
splendour, which withdraws, in the grey
of slanting surfaces, light
shot at us from mirrors.

The Baptist’s head
lay on its torn brow,
a hand with loose bluish
nails clawing
the ragged hair.

When I loved you, restless
your heart, the food on the beating
fire, your mouth, which opened,
open, the river
was a rain and flew
with the herons, leaves
fell and filled its bed.

We bent over numbed
fish, the cricket’s song,
clad in scales, crossed
the sand from the foliage
of the bank, we had come
to sleep, Noman
circled the bed, Noman
extinguished the mirrors, Noman
will wake us
in our time.

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‘The Survivor’ By the Italian Poet Primo Levi – Day 89 of Penpositive Reading Campaign-

Once more he sees his companions’ faces
Livid in the first faint light,
Gray with cement dust,
Nebulous in the mist,
Tinged with death in their uneasy sleep.
At night, under the heavy burden
Of their dreams, their jaws move,
Chewing a non-existant turnip.
‘Stand back, leave me alone, submerged people,
Go away. I haven’t dispossessed anyone,
Haven’t usurped anyone’s bread.
No one died in my place. No one.
Go back into your mist.
It’s not my fault if I live and breathe,
Eat, drink, sleep and put on clothes.’

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Day-88-Penpositive Reading Campaign-A Drunk, Embroiled Will; By the Israeli Poet Zelda

A drunk, embroiled, bleeding will
that imposed itself on constellations,
on the world’s secret,
is blazing in my generation’s heart.
Fettering the free, festive air,
with a strict hand.
The sun and the deeps are wheel horses
on its farm.

It is strange to be a woman,
simple, domestic, feeble,
in an insolent, violent generation,
to be shy, weary,
in a cold generation, a generation of wheelers and dealers,
for whom Orion, Pleiades, and moon
are advertisement lights, golden marks, army badges.
To march in a shaded street
reflecting, slowly, slowly,
to taste China
in a perfumed peach,
to look at Paris
in a cold movie theater,
while they fly
around the world,
while they fly in space.
To be among conquerors
and conquered,
while every creature is ashamed, afraid,

It is strange to wither before clouds of enmity,
while the heart is drawn
to a myriad of worlds.

— Zelda Mishkovsky, translated from the Hebrew by Marcia Falk

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Day-87-Penpositive Reading Campaign-I Write Poetry Gentlemen; By the Spanish Poet Gloria Fuertes

I write poetry, gentlemen, I write poetry,
but please don’t call me poetess;
I swig my wine like the bricklayers do
and I have an assistant who talks to herself.
This world’s a strange place;
things happen, gentlemen, that I don’t disclose;
they build cases, for example, yet never build homes
for the poor who can’t afford them.

And old maids are always having it out with their dogs,
married men with their mistresses,
yet no one says anything to the brutal tyrants.
And we read about the deaths and flip the pages,
and the people hate us and we say: that’s life,
and they step on our necks and we don’t get up.

All this happens, gentlemen, and I must say it.

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