Journal of Poetry Therapy

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 215–235 | Cite as

My Mother Got Tears in Her Eyes: Poetry as Self-Creation by Adults with Mental Retardation

  • Sirkku Sky Hiltunen


Adults with mental retardation, developmental and multiple disabilities, even those who are unable to read or write or have limited verbal skills can express their ideas, feelings, and thoughts through poetry written or dictated by them. For the participating clients, poetry became an excellent vehicle for self-expression, because its grammatical requirement could be varied depending how its style and structure were matched with their skill levels. Samples of poetry, created during 1986–1990 as an adjunctive part of the process-oriented approach to art and drama therapy, are presented. Therapeutic intervention is a reciprocal process: For the clients, bibliographical poetry, memories, and immediate reflections after performing on stage in public became the vehicle for self-esteem building through processes of self-creation and self-affirmation. For the author, persons with mental retardation became transpersonal teachers of patience, gentleness, and love.


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sirkku Sky Hiltunen
    • 1
  1. 1.The Art and Drama Therapy Institute, Inc.Washington, D.C.USA

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