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Senior poets launch their Gran Slam project at Byron Writers Festival 2019

You may have heard about it, and you may have seen some sneak peaks here and there – but now the secret is out, and Gran Slam, the bold slam poetry and filmmaking project, has launched at this year’s Byron Writers Festival.

This is the seventh consecutive year that Feros Care is sponsoring the festival – an event that we are honoured to support. We firmly believe in the power of storytelling and at Feros Care we love sharing the stories of people smashing stereotypes around ageing and disability by living extraordinarily bold lives.

This year, we have tried to change things up, so that our events are more accessible by everyone, regardless of age or ability. That’s why our VIP events were streamed online to seniors around Australia who are members of our Virtual Senior Centre.

Among other sessions at the VIP event, Feros Care screened performances from 14 wordsmiths in the launch of Gran Slam – a bold poetry project giving a voice to seniors with something to say.

Arts and ageing is a topic that Feros Care has always heavily invested in, and Gran Slam is no exception. In a time when older people are rarely given the opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas, Gran Slam created a space where they could freely explore and express these.

No wonder Gran Slam is taking the art world by storm – the performance poetry masterclass and filmmaking project aimed at seniors is proving that the wordsmiths of wisdom still have a lot to say. And they’re not afraid to say it!

The benefits of arts and ageing

It is well-known that creative outlets make us happy and contribute to our overall sense of life satisfaction. Whether it’s active participation in the arts – such as painting, writing, making music or creating anything else – or simply spending time taking it all in and enjoying it, arts can affect individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing.

Moreover, research suggests that seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other chronic degenerative disease can enjoy a wild range of health benefits from engaging with a creative outlet. For example, several studies show that art can reduce the depression and anxiety that are often symptomatic of chronic diseases.

Art can serve as therapy, and as a result can provide a sense of comfort, assist in socialising, help with fostering a stronger sense of identity, and increase self-esteem.

As is evident, arts should play an integral part in any aged care facility, and we are proud to cater for the creative sides of our Feros Care residents at all of our Residential Villages.

Gran Slam defies expectations as senior poets take to the stage

One of the defining (and mistaken) characteristics of slam poetry is that it’s the art of the young. That older generations don’t have the passion, the means, or the ideas to express themselves through performance poetry – and that’s exactly what Gran Slam aims to challenge.

Our Gran Slammers are aged 68-90, and they attended two weekends of slam poetry workshops led by expert poet and literary performer, David Stavanger. These workshops taught the aspiring wordsmiths how to give voice to their ideas and experiences, and how to perform them on a stage – or in this instance, in a box ring in front of a camera.

These Gran Slammers are people with a declaration to make, a voice to be heard, an opinion to be penned – regardless of their prior experience in poetry. They are a group of enthusiastic individuals, extraordinary in their own way – and yet, what they give voice to can resonate with us all.

The Gran Slam project gave them the skills and platform to express themselves through prose and performance, and access to a wealth of knowledge that made the final performance a riveting success.
Gran Slammer at poetry workshop

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