The Moon Day Poets: Creative Expression and Aging

By Debra Sheets and Phoebe Liebig.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Traditionally, the gaze of geriatrics and gerontology has focused on the “problems” of aging “ rather than the “possibilities”. In contrast to this paradigm of decline and losses, we consider the potential for engagement in the arts to maximize well-being in later life by creating opportunities for growth and meaning. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of population aging—the “longevity revolution” that has heightened interest in “aging well”. Next we provide an overview of current research on creativity and aging which points to the positive impact of the humanities and arts on health and quality of life for older adults. Then, we briefly describe the Moon Day poetry series, a poetry community that has attracted the participation of many older poets. Finally we consider selected works that address an array of topics (e.g. love, physical changes, death and dying) that offer an intimate glimpse into the experience of aging and a personal perspective on an “old age that adds as it takes away” (Williams, 1935). We conclude by considering how our understanding of the meaning of aging is enriched by creative expression and conversely how engagement in the arts enriches the experience of aging.

Keywords: Creativity and Aging, Poetry about Aging, Positive Aging

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 12, pp.129-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 642.494KB).

Dr. Debra Sheets

Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Debra Sheets, Ph.D., MSN, RN-BC, CNE received her doctorate in Gerontology and Public Policy from the University of Southern California. Dr. Sheets is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America where she is a former chair of the GSA Humanities and Arts Committee (2003). In the area of the humanities and arts, Dr. Sheets is a founding member and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, an affiliated journal of the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Sheets’ research focuses on creativity and aging, health and functional risks of aging with physical disability, and geriatric nursing education.

Dr. Phoebe Liebig

Associate Professor Emerita, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Phoebe Liebig, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor Emerita of Gerontology and Public Administration at USC. She has been in the field of aging for more than 25 years and is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She has written numerous book chapters and articles on housing and long-term care. Dr. Liebig has received several Fulbright Senior Scholar awards and conducted field research on old-age homes and services in India. In 2003 she received the Clark Tibbitts Award for Excellence in Gerontology from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Dr. Liebig is a founding member and serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Aging, Humanities and the Arts, an affiliated journal of the Gerontological Society of America.

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