Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Parkinson's and Creativity, an Experiment

Some time ago I came across a story in the news that said people with Parkinson's who were taking Sinemet were more creative than ordinary, generic people. This of course raises many questions about creativity itself, let alone the creativity of those who have this strange and capricious disease. Raised questions, like raised doughnuts, are hard to resist. So at our most recent meeting I ambushed our support group with the following challenge: Write Haiku about Parkinson's disease.

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that calls for a three-line poem which is structured to have 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the last line. The lines needn't rhyme, although I think the poetry police will look the other way if they do. Nature is often a topic, but where the form has been appropriated by other cultures the tradition has grown a bit loose.

Where I could detect expression on group members faces as I passed out paper and pens, I thought I saw a certain unwillingness to dive into the murky waters of creative endeavor. To their credit, most people came up with something in the silent quarter hour that passed after the supplies were handed around.

So what do the poems that came out tell us about PD and creativity? Not as much as I'd like. I unscientifically forgot to inquire if there were any people who had PD but were not taking Sinemet, and at least three of the participants were caregivers who did not suffer from Parkinson's themselves. There were no controls, and this is a tiny number of participants that in no way comprises a scientific sample. But we did get some unusual perspectives on the disease, so I hereby declare the experiment a smashing success.

Here, in no particular order are the poems I managed to collect after the meeting.

These first three Are by Pam Dunlap-Shohl.

I really care, but
For Parkinson's, not so much.
It saps my patience

Two steps forward, and
Three steps back. A halting dance,
bereft of grace

"What?" I said, "What?"
"I didn't catch that the first time."
"What did you say?"

Here's one from Bob Rinehart

I shake like the
leaf of Poplar Tremaloides
Sinemet stills me.

Here are mine

Drowsily I ask
Wow, do I still have PD?
Let me check... oh, damn.

Festination. It's
halts and lurches between you
And your destination.

As the rains of Fall
Tumble to the sodden earth
I follow their lead.

Carolyn Rinehart submitted two

I don't want PD
In our lives but it has brought
good friends through this group.

PD is the pits
But we still can nurture our

And we'll let Susan Wong have the last word

Feels like aliens
Living rent-free in my soul
Who invited you?

If you have a PD haiku you would like to share please submit it as a comment on this post.


Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Here is another PD haiku from correspondent Denise Fulmer. Thank you, Denise.

Is this really me?
Inside this shell so strangled,
Were I free beyond?

Pico Alaska said...

Who knows how to count
The many blooms of courage?
These still faces hide much.

Peter Dunlap-Shohl said...

Parkinson's haiku from Linda Erb
Feels like aliens
Capricious, practical jokers
Are in my body

It has been eight years
I can't pretend any more
To feel I'm normal

Parkinsons? Is it
Dystonia? Will my
DBS help me?

Gene Gryniewicz said...

where once there was a mountain

tremors, like dragons,
sleep. like mountains, they do not
budge -- not even twitch ...

no heartbeat -- no; blood
flows ... slows ... then seems to stop ... . then
the tremor opens

like a dragon
its great yellow eye and mouth
opens; it roars earthquakes