I am thrilled to be teaching a brand newcourse on haiku for people affected by Parkinson’s, their families, and friends, for the Parkinson’s Art Academy. Starting 18 September 2021 it runs for 8 weeks.
Parkinson’s Art is a non-profit organisation run by artists and writers living with Parkinson’s disease.
Its mission is to:
Promote the benefits of art to those affected by Parkinson’s Disease
Provide a platform to collaborate and share artwork
Showcase Parkinson’s art and raise awareness through exhibitions and events
At the centre of this effort, stands the Parkinson’s Art Academy, offering a variety of free courses on literature and the fine arts. It taps into the wealth of experience existing in the community of people with Parkinson’s.
April 11, 2021 is World Parkinson’s Day. Check out live events and Parkinson’s Community videos in honor of the day on YouTube here
Interested in finding out about Parkinson’s Disease? The Michael J. Fox Foundation describes it as follows:
Parkinson’s disease (PD) occurs when brain cells that make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremor, slowness, stiffness, and walking and balance problems, it is called a “movement disorder.” But constipation, depression, memory problems and other non-movement symptoms also can be part of Parkinson’s. PD is a lifelong and progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time.
Another good place to start is the Davis Phinney Foundation which offers a plethora of useful information. The site also features performance poetry by Wayne Gilbert who, using metaphor, describes his experience of living with this disease.
Did you know that a number of people with Parkinson’s find it helpful to personify the disease, to see it as an enemy to fight against? From Journeys with Parkinson’s, the personal blog of Frank C. Church, in the first three out of Ten Things to Keep You Living and Not Just Existing With Parkinson’s, the disease is presented as an opponent of the person with PD:
What makes you happy? Think about it; think deeply about what do you do every day that makes you happy. Your Parkinson’s will not like you being happy.
Stay busy; be active every day for many hours during the day. Do not just sit. Your Parkinson’s would prefer to have you sedentary doing as little as possible.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep and the best quality kind of sleep. You know you used to get it before you had Parkinson’s. Your Parkinson’s would prefer to do whatever it can to keep you from sleeping because you being tired and listless gives an advantage to Parkinson’s.
Finally, here is a video of a Belgian septuagenarian with Parkinson’s who took up boxing to alleviate her symptoms:
Highlighting articles, blog posts, news, poems, films about living with Parkinson’s in honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month and beyond.
April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, set aside each year for drawing attention to this little understood and still under-researched neurodegenerative disease that affects around 10 million people globally (with numbers growing rapidly). At the center of this observance is World Parkinson’s Day April 11. Patients, families, care workers, support groups use the month, and the day, to heighten awareness of the disease as well as inform of the resources that are needed / available to support those afflicted by it.
April is also National Poetry month in the United States, with April 17 set to celebrate international Haiku Poetry Day. Poets, publishers, teachers of poetry, librarians, poetry lovers come forward to inform about, promote and celebrate poetry the whole month. The Haiku Foundation honors International Haiku Poetry Day (IHPD) with HaikuLife, the yearly Film Festival, and EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration, a poem written by haikuists on the day, from sunrise to sundown around the world.
Since both Poetry and Parkinson’s are of particular relevance to me, I will be posting links to interesting articles, information, and Parkinson’s poetry in this blog.
Here is my favorite poem about Parkinson’s (the first one of four) by Robin Morgan:
A post by Minter Krotzer on her husband Hal Sirowitz’s need to keep the disease secret as long as possible, illustrates a common problem faced by people with Parkinson’s known as staying in the Parkinson’s closet! In her post The hardest Secret, she observes, “It’s interesting to me that people aren’t in the closet about many things anymore but they are about disease.”
And here you will find Michael J. Fox‘s story, one of the most well-known figures in the Parkinson’s world, diagnosed in 1991:
A detailed and brave description of personal experience of the disease and the healing practice of Haiku, titled Haiku and Parkinson’s Disease, by Tim Roberts, can be found in the New Zealand Poetry Society website
I hope that my posts will make a small contribution to addressing the heart-breaking dilemma those afflicted with PD find themselves in: on the one hand, the stigma associated with this disease, which creates and reinforces the need to stay in the closet and so deprive those living with it of the support there is; and, on the other, the paucity of information about the disease, which leads to and feeds misunderstanding and stigmatization.
If you are wondering about the title of this post: A red tulip is the symbol chosen for Parkinson’s Disease.