Poet Finds New Way to Share Her Words

poet Irene Hicks

Irene Hicks is a 72-year-old poet who can no longer write down her beautiful stanzas due to Parkinson’s disease. Without the ability to write, her poems are trapped in her mind.

Inspired by hearing her brother recite the words of the greats like Robert Frost, she discovered her passion for bringing the joy of literature to the younger generations of her home state.

The loss of her ability to write comes at an important time for Irene: the 150th anniversary of her alma mater, the historic Mather School in South Carolina’s Technical College of the Lowcountry. Her dream was to commemorate her alma mater with a heartfelt poem that encapsulates the college’s influence on the African-American community.

Mathers was created for the daughters of freed slaves in the late 1860s. And Irene wanted to use her poetry to give a voice to women of the past, present and future.

“I want to create and record memories, express feelings and share my dreams. I want to share my love of words, their power to heal, inspire and connect people,” she said.

Her inability to write didn’t stop her from pursuing that dream. With the help of Colorado-based nonprofit Wish of a Lifetime and her Resident Programs Director at Brookdale Senior Living, she was able to craft her poem using a voice-activated computer.

Having heard her story, leaders at the Mathers School were inspired by her passion and invited her to join them on campus. Irene and her family were hosted on campus for Founder’s Day weekend, where Irene’s grandchildren read her work to a loving crowd during the annual luncheon. 

“I am not letting Parkinson’s win,” she says. “I am living a full life while facing obstacles and showing other people there are ways around obstacles.”


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