I was asked to write a guest blog for Shirley Nomakeo, and I liked the idea. Here it is. My upcoming book, Touch My Head Softly, is about my experiences with my partner who died of Alzheimer's Disease. I learned a lot about Alzheimer's when my partner had it. I also did quite a bit of research on it for this collection of poems that I wrote.
Alzheimer's is a terrible disease that needs to be talked about. Alzheimer’s Disease afflicts more than five million Americans. It affects more Americans than prostate and breast cancer combined. For every person who has the disease, there’s also a caretaker and a family involved.
My collection of poems, my second, is a very personal, singular experience with Alzheimer’s Disease. My partner, a brilliant mathematics professor, was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s in his 60’s. The deterioration happened quickly and I was left in shock for years. I recently started writing these poems and a narrative and this book emerged. The book is comprised of three sections: the relationship before Alzheimer’s, the year before he died, and the aftermath following his death. It is my way of trying to make sense out of what happened. I’m donating part of the proceeds from the book to the Alzheimer's Association for research for a cure.
Eileen P. Kennedy is a poet and academic who has focused on the writing process. Her former partner died of Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 69 and this collection is based on those experiences. Her first book, Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015) was nominated for a Pushcart Award and given Second Prize from the Wordwrite Book Award in Poetry. She holds a doctorate in language and literacy and has published a textbook, as well as fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she canoes, hikes, and writes. She winters in Costa Rica. More at EileenPKennedy.com
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Shirley Nomakeo received a B.S. Degree in Graphic Design from Rivier College.