Galaxy Teaching Artist
Poetry/Creative Aging/ Mental Health Art
I have taught poetry-writing and storytelling workshops in low-income nursing homes, senior centers, and personal care facilities since 2012. My award-winning programs honor the voices and imaginations of older adults from all walks of life. My students have been farmers, dancers, teachers, mothers, fathers, artists, hunters, mowers of graveyards, and more. I specialize in working with adults who have physical and cognitive disabilities, including memory loss—my classes meet people where they are at and celebrate each person’s contributions. Each program responds to the specific interests and needs of participants, but the goal is always to learn more about ourselves, each other, and poetry. Through discussions, readings, listening, and sharing, we gain a deeper sense of who we are and what the world is.
My past programs include Being Heard, a poetry-writing program for older adults that was selected as one of four “Best of the Best” projects in the commonwealth from among the 1,175 projects funded by the PA Council on the Arts between 2013-2016. Collaborative writing, story-sharing, and nourishing creative challenges are at the heart of this program, which culminates with a poetry chapbook, colorful poetry posters, and often with a public reading and celebration. I also teache a program called “A Poem in Our Eyes” for those who live with memory loss. “A Poem in Our Eyes” invites participants to respond to visual art works by local artists; the “spontaneous utterance” poems and stories that result are written down and celebrated for all to enjoy. Both Being Heard and “A Poem in Our Eyes” encourage participants to see themselves as people with valued voices, meaningful experiences, and imaginations to share. These programs can both be adapted to suit end of life care.
I was born and raised in Centre County, where I still live. As well as being an alumna of Smith College and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Penn State, I am a poet, an artist, a gardener, and a community writing teacher. I believe in the power of poetry to cultivate empathy, knowledge, and joy.