EULOGIES FOR THE LIVING: A PROSE POETRY PROJECT
April 22, 2008
About a year ago, I discovered an unexpected talent: writing eulogies for living people I had never met. Let me explain: as part of the Movable Feast, some of my colleagues asked me to write five brief eulogies for the participants in a day-long avant garde piece written exclusively for them. (The Movable Feast is kind of a big project to explain in passing, so, for more details go here: http://www.myspace.com/themovablefeast.) The eulogies were read aloud to the recipients, and I had the amazing experience of watching their reactions to these brief pieces, which, though I had only read dossiers on the participants, seemed to hit home. Recently I re-read the pieces and liked them so much I decided to expand the project.
This is where you come in. Do you know somebody who could use a little appreciation? A little reminder of the world’s ever-passing gyre? Do you want to be prepared in case of the swift and unexpected death of a loved one, whose passing would doubtless leave you too flummoxed to say the right thing at the funeral? Would you like to remind a cavalier friend of yours that death comes even for the wanton and cool? All are perfect reasons to commission a prose poem eulogy from yours truly.
The project may sound morbid, but if you read the original eulogies (please see following sample), you’ll find that they’re far more celebratory and bittersweet. Kind of like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but without Christmastime sentimentality and Jimmy Stewart.
If you’re interested, please send me an e-mail at girl dot professional at gmail dot com (include the word “eulogy” in the title please) containing the following
+the first name of the eulogy recipient (no last names, please)
+a brief dossier on the recipient (recent major life events, food preferences, silly details, very serious details, ephemera)
Remember, I can’t do eulogies for people I’ve met. Strangers only. The participant must also be alive. The final eulogy might not reflect any of the information you sent me in the dossier. I cannot be held responsible for the truth I may unleash upon your recipient. For their troubles, though, they’ll receive an extremely limited chapbook of all the eulogies.
I’ll be working on this project over the summer, so the absolute deadline for submissions is July 15th, 2008.
Here’s your sample eulogy:
Liz asked me to do this crazy thing before she died. She said, I want you to take this old handkerchief to the old airport in Sedona and hold it up in the wind and see which way it blows. I said, okay Liz, I can do that. Then she said, if it blows North or South or East I want you to go home and bury this handkerchief in a steel box in your backyard and plant something really heavy on top of it, like a rhododendron or a bathtub, hell, I don’t care as long as it’s heavy. But if it blows West, I want you to take that handkerchief and dry a wolf’s tears with it. I said, Liz, that might be a problem but I’ll try my best. So I went to Sedona and that old red checked handkerchief blew straight West. I got nervous because where am I going to find a wolf? I had a few beers at this little mountain place that sold postcards. A guy came in and said, “I just realized how we’re all completely alone in this world, and it’s enough to make a guy cry.” He started crying. I asked what his name was, full of hope. “My name’s Kenny,” he said, “but everybody calls me The Wolf.”