“After stroke, a poet hunts for the language lost”

Becoming more competent is generally good in and of itself, even if an acquired competency seems to have no immediate or practical benefit. This 27 June 2010 NY Times article illustrates this and other SRV relevant points.

• After a stroke, the published poet Marie Ponsot found she could not remember poems she had been reciting for much of her life. So she tried to recall one of the first things she ever memorized–the Lord’s Prayer–but was unable to get past the first phrase. Then she tried to remember the prayer in French, the language she first learned it in, but the same thing happened. At that point, a mental picture came into her mind of the page in her Roman Missal (prayer book) containing that prayer. She could not see the words themselves in her mind, but only the decorative border on the page. So she tried reciting the prayer in Latin…and she was able to say the entire prayer, in Latin. She then began to translate the prayer from Latin back into English in her mind, and at a certain point was able to say the whole prayer in English. (Pay attention, those of you who studied Latin or other languages as a child and complained about it, or who are critical of memorization as a part of learning–it just might come in handy!)

• Our valued roles can protect and help us in myriad ways. After her stroke, Ms. Ponsot’s valued role as poet has done just that. A group of poets have been freely coming to her apartment to read and talk with her, which has helped her memory to come back bit by bit, among other benefits surely.

Access this site to read some of Ms. Ponsot’s poetry.

Posted on September 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: ,

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