A poetry group at Golborne House, the Minster-run care home near Warrington, is proving exceptionally popular with residents. The group is bringing people together through a new-found love of verse, stimulating discussion and rekindling old memories. One resident has even been contributing her own compositions.
The poetry group, which is dubbed ‘Poetry Corner’, meets every Monday in a cosy lounge at the home. Members of the group take it in turns to read poetry before discussing the poems and their themes.
The group, led by activities coordinator at Golborne House, Elizabeth Bates, is organised in association with The Reader; a charitable organisation which aims to improve people’s lives by connecting them with literature. The charity organises reading groups nationwide, in a variety of establishments, including care homes, schools, workplaces and even prisons. Elizabeth underwent training to become a registered facilitator before founding the group at Golborne House.
Elizabeth was initially unsure about whether the poetry group would be popular with residents. In fact, the first session began slowly, with participants hesitant to contribute their thoughts. However, it only took a few prompts from Elizabeth, regarding themes and features of the poems, to ignite a conversation and for the group to become animated and engaged.
Members of the group at Golborne House have since been enjoying the sessions immensely. Favourite poems have included works by Wordsworth, Samuel Daniels and John Masefield. The discussions have a stimulating effect on residents, and people talk about the sessions for many days afterwards. Elizabeth says that the poems often evoke memories for participants and in this way the meetings are like a form of reminiscence therapy.
It has emerged that one member of the group, Mary Brookes, used to write her own poetry. Usually a reserved person, Mary was a vocal participant of the sessions from the first meeting and was keen to delve into the significance of particular words and explore themes in the poems. In the second session, she declared that she used to write her own poetry. Mary has since provided some of her own poems for the group to read and said that she would like to try writing poetry again.
Commenting on the poetry group, Elizabeth said: “I have been amazed by the way residents have engaged with the group and the energising effect it has had on our members. It gives me a real buzz to organise. The group has also been a great reminiscence tool, as residents remember poems from their past and frequently bring them in for the group to read. It evokes lots of memories and emotions. It’s been a joy to be able to read the wonderful poetry written by Mary too.”
By Mary Brookes
A garden in springtime, sunset o’er the Nile
A country walk by moonlight, covering many a happy mile.
Each in itself a pleasure, to partake or look upon
But, to gain joys fullest measure, see a mother with her son.
A pair of eyes so gentle, watches every step he takes,
From cot, through happy school days, to the manly strides he takes
Each phase a memory lingers, to recall as years slip by
And with sheets between her fingers, she gives a long drawn sigh.
The dying fire sank lower, as she watches its full red glow,
God, soon let me see him please, oh why is time so slow
Each day a year has been to me, since I last packed his case,
But I know – it has to be, I must keep a smiling face.
The letter fluttered to her feet, her eyelids closed in sweet repose
On wings of love – he came home, from horror, bloodshed, conquered foes
Her sleeping face with radiance beamed, her heart full of joy,
Tears down her cheeks unheeded streamed, from her lips came “oh my boy”
Far away from England’s shore, a boy sat deep in thought
Of home, mother, peace and joy, things no wealth has bought.
His misted eyes o’er looked the sand, there’s nought she cannot bravely bear
Mothers love is something grand “God bless her” was his prayer.
Far from that foreign land, a British ship sailed home
Brave son on much earned leave, came – o’er the perilous foam,
His young eyes brightly gleamed, as they saw the sun arise
Just as he had dreamed o’er cliffs twixt sea and skies.
A garden in a village street, its cottage full of joy
A mother wakened from her sleep “it is my boy”
The world has many a pleasure to partake or look upon
But to gain joys fullest measure, see that mother with her son