APP-MN: Alzheimer's Poetry Project Minnesota
Fundraiser for Springboard for the Arts

APP-MN: Alzheimer's Poetry Project Minnesota Zoë is raising money for Springboard for the Arts.

Naming the Artist Within

"When I think of what makes me happy, I don’t think of things—I think of what’s happening to me right now, this group and what we’re doing. We’re talking about poetry and it stretches the mind, feeds the imagination."

                                         –Peter, APP-MN participant with late-stage memory loss

Cultivating the Sage

APP-MN’s mission is to facilitate and enhance the creativity of elder Minnesotans, and help make their voices a proud part of our communities.

Last year, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council awarded APP-MN $10,000 in Arts Activities grant funding to bring "Naming the Artist Within," collaborative, innovative, multimodal programming in poetry and visual arts, to elder adults at four different, low-income adult day centers throughout Minneapolis in 2017. Programming has been underway since January 2017 and will continue through November 2017.

Your generous contribution to APP-MN provides the vital matching funds that enable us to complete this engaging, successful programming. 

Read on for more info about APP-MN and Naming the Artist Within, and THANK YOU for your invaluable support! 

About Our Work

Since 2012, APP-MN teaching poets have brought joyful, high-energy, collaborative poetry programming to thousands of elder Minnesotans and their loved ones, caregivers, and community members.

During group sessions in memory care, assisted living, and community and adult day center facilities, APP-MN poets use poetry and sensory engagement to connect with people living with dementia and other cognitive challenges, leading participants in lively call-and-response performance, discussion, and composition of group poems that capture memories, stories, and countless moments of connection.

We claim room for elders’ voices in public spaces via recorded installations, community readings, poetry parties, celebratory events, and the distribution of printed poetry. And we train staff, caregivers, family, organizational partners, and other teaching artists in arts engagement techniques for use with older adults, especially those with memory loss.

We are proud to be an arm of the international Alzheimer's Poetry Project (APP), founded and directed by our mentor, Gary Glazner. To date, the APP has held programming in 26 states and internationally in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Poland, and South Korea, serving over 35,000 people living with dementia.

APP-MN draws on the international APP’s strength of programming; the NEA has named APP techniques a “best practice” in its Arts and Aging initiative, and the Wilder Community Center for Aging in St. Paul has also named APP-MN’s work a “best practice for late-stage memory loss.” Now entering its sixth year, APP-MN has already brought poetry programming to thousands of elder Minnesotans and their loved ones, caregivers, and community members.

2017: Naming the Artist Within

The World We Draw


 Green bird,

           Rice pounder,


Poisonous insect that lives

       On the bamboo leaf.

Corn plants,

           Bamboo reed,

       Green trees and mountains.

Red birds with tree,

           A red sun

       And a green sun,

Roots of the trees are strong.


If I had my own house it would look like this:

yellow and orange—Mai’s house,

The horse is my favorite animal,

The blue bird is from my imagination,

Portrait of Chong’s mother Xue,

Mother and daughter together,

The sun shines onto the earth,

I like to plant flowers,

I like birds,

Tiger is the enemy—keep away!

Escaping the war

crossing the Mekong River into Thailand,

Self-portrait with my heart.


 —By the poets of Park Elder Center’s Hmong DayElders program, in a session led by APP-MN poet Diane Jarvenpa, January 17, 2017

Through previous initiatives, we have worked with teaching artists in dance, puppetry, music, visual art, theater, and videography to share skills and deepen the impact of arts experiences, discovering, along the way, the power of layering creative modalities—what we call the “multimodal” approach. In this multimodal project, we’ll dive deeper into the pool of memory and association, connecting text with image, poets with visual artists, and elders with each other and their communities at Southwest Senior Center, Parker Skyview High-rise, Eastside Neighborhood Services’ Friendship Center, and the Hmong Adult Day Center.

Workshops specially designed for older adults, led by visual artists Michèle Coppin and Holly Nelson, and APP-MN poets Zoë Bird, Diane Jarvenpa, Julie Landsman, and Rachel Moritz, will encourage exploration in and actual synthesis of the two art forms, allowing important themes and intimacy within groups to develop over time as participants create their own original visual art and respond to the art by creating poetry, and vice versa.

Our goal is for participants to enjoy and learn visual art and spoken word techniques, feel a sense of mastery over artistic processes, share stories, learn about each other, and surprise themselves and their communities with what they are capable of. And this project advances APP-MN's mission by helping us bring engaging, inclusive poetry and visual arts programming to low-income elders who have few opportunities to learn about or make art, encouraging new connections not just between text and image, but also between parts of the brain, between people, and between generations.

At a time in life when older adults generally experience loss after loss, programming in creative engagement introduces new means of self-expression, and new possibilities for elders’ sense of identity within the community as artists, with an extraordinary creative capacity and so much to offer.

Thank you for making this work possible! Please share this fundraiser with everyone you know who cares about older adults and those navigating Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

For more information, or to get involved, visit our website: You can also contact Zoë Bird, APP-MN director, at 612.432.9196 or [email protected]

APP-MN is a fiscally sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts. We love Springboard! To give directly to Springboard, please visit:



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