Gero-Punk Praxis: The Poetics of Self-Care

To be a Gero-Punk is to live experimentally, to live in love with emergence, with the unexpected, the chaotic, the improvisatory, to live with your arms wide open to complexity, guided by your own star, fueled by a good measure of playfulness and well-intentioned rebellion.

To be a Gero-Punk is to bravely and critically reflect upon, interrogate, and create new ways of thinking about and experiencing the aging journey.  A Gero-Punk resists normative aging ideology, and challenges others to do so as well, or at least to better understand the implications of normative aging ideology before they live by its rules. We resist simple states of consciousness about aging and later life and choose, instead, to dwell in the messiness, the undeniable complexity, of deep human development and aging.

To be a Gero-Punk is to explore the art of time-travel, to learn how to be grounded simultaneously in the present while respecting (and learning from) the past and dreaming the future.

Gero-Punk “self-care” isn’t about perfecting one’s self or trying to prevent becoming old. If Gero-Punk “self-care” is anything, it has to be about freedom, about discovering what works for each of us in terms of feeling good, doing good, and enjoying this precious human life.

Here’s part two in the series of reflections and take-aways from the Gero-Punk Salon on Self-Care. This one – a Gero-Punk Poem — is by another regular contributor to this blog, Melinda E. Pittman. Poems are meant to be read aloud — see what happens when you do.

Jenny Sasser, with Dana Rae Parker


Westminster Quarters Calling

A Community Inquiry in Four Crochets

A Poem inspired by the glorious Gero-Punk conversation on Self-Care, 2/21/16


Melinda E. Pittman



The doorbell of mindfulness chimes in.

Is it a present? Or a tautly taped box intent for future Tense?

A care package awaiting Time.


Ask… Is it Present time now or later?

Momentous thought, that.

Standards shift and sway ‘shoulds.’

Dust-frosted cobwebs

cleared for Arachne’s weft.

Re- membering the tale: be Aware who knocks upon the door.



Is it Time to burnish base-boards? To order Chaos around?

Basis un-bored. Un-wholly. Desire, relief refrigerated.

Sky-light the limits.


Sandwiches- gratitude stuffed and mustard spiced- for just the right Present when Now arrives Later.


Now and Then, there be shoulds to sing to sleep,

perchance to dream…

A nice belly-rub for a little dog-

Tired day.

Present? NOW?




Would that we may make requirements wait another nanosecond!

After all, every good laugh requires set-up and twist



The punchline’s liminal. Would that it might conform to the irrealis left.

The joke’s in you.

Gigs of giggles delivered to your door. How’re your humours?



Now… then.

Shall we/I/they/thee/ye sign for the package

with full formality and care

or merely an initial chuckle?


How to accept a Moment of Delivery

as Westminster’s Quarters chime?

~ From Poems Aloud (work in progress)

Melinda E. Pittman is an essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, composer, musician, singer, theatrical director, producer, stand-up and sit-down comic, and community activist. She performed with the infamous parody comic quartet, the Fallen Angel Choir, then founded and toured the original comic musical theatre company BroadArts Theatre, serving as their Artistic Director for 14 years. Author of 15 full length musical plays, her work WonderBroads won the Angus Bowmer Oregon Book Award for Best Drama in 2000. She earned her B.A. in Theatre from Virginia Tech in 1975 and her Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies from Marylhurst University in 2013.


About Jenny Sasser, Ph.D.

I am a freelance educational gerontologist, writer, community activist and facilitator. I am former Chair of the Department of Human Sciences and Director of Gerontology at Marylhurst University. I joined the faculty as an adjunct member of the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program in 1997 and since that time, I've been involved in designing many on-campus and web-based courses and programs for adult learners, including in Gerontology. As an undergraduate I attended Willamette University, graduating Cum Laude in Psychology and Music; my interdisciplinary graduate studies at University of Oregon and Oregon State University focused on the Human Sciences, with specialization areas in adult development and aging, women’s studies, and critical social theory and alternative research methodologies. My dissertation became part of a book published in 1996 and co-authored with Dr. Janet Lee--Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary US Society. Over the past twenty (or more!) years I have been involved in inquiry in the areas of creativity in later life; older women's embodiment; sexuality and aging; critical Gerontological theory; transformational adult learning practices; and inter-generational friendships and cross-generational collaborative inquiry. I am co-author, with Dr. Harry R. Moody of Aging: Concepts and Controversies (now in its 10th edition!) and first author, also with Moody, of the recently published Gerontology: The Basics, as well as author/co-author of several book chapters, articles and essays. I am on the Portland Community College Gerontology Program faculty.
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