Alice’s Story-Exploring Creativity

Emergency Assistance and COVID-19 Relief

Engaging in the creative arts has been shown to improve mental, physical, and emotional health, even for people who don’t feel they are creative. Our Exploring Creativity class, which is free for adults 55+, is demonstrating that value to the participants - no art experience necessary. The class focuses on one type of art per month and participants meet weekly to learn, create, and share.

In February, the focus of the class was “Cento Poetry,” where individual lines from existing poems are chosen and combined to make a new poem. Alice, a class participant who recently lost her husband, found an unexpected outlet to express her grief through this exercise. Learn more about her story and read her poem.

"Alice had never engaged in the arts in the past and was feeling understandably nervous about being creative," said Emily Christensen, JFS Arts & Aging Coordinator. “Yet through choosing lines from six existing poems, she arranged a group of lines that expressed some of the grief she had been experiencing,” Emily said. The real challenge for Alice came in choosing one of two ways that would best end the poem. “I thought that I should visit my husband’s grave and that would help me to decide,” Alice told Emily. After that visit, Alice realized that both lines best expressed her feelings.

This is the final poem she created:

And so make life, death, and that vast forever
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity
For who has sight so keen and strong
Within the silent shade
The world is all one’s own
And I stay here
All, all alone
…thoughts like these are idle things
But in my sleep to you I fly.

(Poems used include "A Farewell" by Charles Kingsley; "Little Things" by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer; "The Arrow and the Song" by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow; "The Violet" by Jane Taylor; and "If I had But Two Little Wings" by Samuel T. Coleridge.)

Emily said that Alice was surprised and pleased to see what she was able to create, and was grateful for a supportive and nonjudgmental environment where she could explore new creative experiences.

Exploring Creativity, which is free, meets every Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 am via Zoom. Contact Older Adult Staff to sign up.