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Voices In Bloom - Book of Original Poetry Released By Seabrook "Poets From The Gardens"

May 7, 2013

TINTON FALLS, NJ - Every Friday morning, two dozen or so residents get together at Seabrook's Continuing Care Community, known as "The Gardens," to hear the beautiful writings of authors such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. They then listen to their own writings as well... 
These talented writers, who are part of a group known as Poets From The Gardens, are now published as well, staking a claim in the world of literature with Voices In Bloom - An Anthology of Poems and Stories.
Last February, 40 residents from the writing group began working on the anthology, which they wanted to share with their loved ones, and the public.
At 92, each day
Is its own commander. . . 
From the merging colors of the sunrise
And the mixed forms of the clouds
Through the changing person of myself.
Is an excerpt from the book entitled Each Day, written by Seabrook Continuing Care resident Jim Buckley. Mr. Buckley's is only one of 137 exquisite, heart-felt and passionate pieces authored by these talented writers.
The book, which lists for $4.75 on the website (, was edited by Shelley Benaroya, director of the Writing Center for Creative Aging of NJ. Ms. Benaroya, a teaching artist and professional writer, facilitates the Poets From The Gardens group each week, helping attendees lend their voice in the creative process.
The residents who are part of Voices In Bloom have a strong connection to their work and a strong connection to their fellow poet authors who are involved in this project.
"Together our residents created a synthesis of sheer sweetness, beauty, history and passion," said Art Sparks, Seabrook executive director. "Each piece tells a story not just about its own subject matter, but about the author as well, who may have come from any different walk of life that defines who they are."
Jennifer Courlas, director of continuing care at Seabrook said, "There are so many creative residents here at Seabrook in both the independent and continuing care communities. They write, paint, sing, dance and even act. This group of writers has taken their passion to a whole other level- they produced something for those outside of Seabrook to see---giving others a chance to see the gifts created within our very own community."
"It's a thrill watching someone who never cared much for poetry, or who lost touch with it, or felt intimated by it over the years, become inspired to share---through the alchemy of their own words and imagery---something of what they've learned along the way," said Ms. Benaroya. "It goes to show how joyful adding a little poetry to your life can be. How that creative spark lives inside us all."  
According to a recent study conducted at Liverpool University, reading poetry not only lights up the language and speech centers of the brain's left hemisphere, "it increases activity in the right hemisphere, an area concerned with 'autobiographical memory', helping the reader to reflect on and reappraised their own experiences in light of what they have read." Their findings, the subject of a January 2013 article in the British Telegraph, singled out "the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections" in young and old alike.
Writing poetry and stories on the other hand, as with all the arts, appears to benefit not just the mind, but the spirit and body, too. The 2006 landmark study "Creativity and Aging" conducted by Dr. Gene Cohen, former director for the Center on National Aging, revealed that sustained involvement in the arts not only increases cognitive fitness in older Americans, but improves physical and emotional well-being as well.
Poets From the Gardens was invited last spring to participate in the National Center for Creative Aging's pilot program Arts & Aging Core Training. The group was one of 14 programs in the New Jersey/New York region selected to take part in this training funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and hosted by the Arts Council of Princeton. 
About Seabrook:  Seabrook is situated on a scenic 98 acre campus in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.  The community is home to approximately 1,400 residents, many of which reside in the 1,090 independent living apartment-style homes.  Life at Seabrook offers a true sense of community and is an exciting alternative to the typical retirement community.  Additional information about Seabrook can be found at