Friday, July 18, 2008

From Sarah Smith, who just got selected for Best New Poets so you know she is the real deal.

EULOGIES FOR THE LIVING: a prose poem project

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: 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 participate! Other good reasons include: 1) it's free 2) why not and 3) I'm doing this project under a summer writing grant and have to come up with forty eulogies some damn way, so help a girl out!

The project may sound morbid, but if you read the original eulogies (two of which you can find below; the others are up at my blog,, 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 (age, recent major life events, some minor ephemera)

Remember, I can't do eulogies for people I've met. Strangers only. The participant must also be alive, and they must be somebody you know well (i.e., not Lindsay Lohan). 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. Feel free to forward this to anybody who may be interested!
I'll be working on this project over the summer, so the absolute deadline for submissions is July 30th, 2008.

And here are two sample eulogies for your reading pleasure:


My favorite thing Stacy ever said to me is, "Get the god damn fishes into the boat, you mother." It was kind of this joke between us. Sometimes I would be worrying about something silly, like how I should fix my hair for a date, and Stacy would come in and say, "You best light a fire under your ass, motherfucker, or all those fishes are gonna jump out of the sumbitch boat and then what will you care about going on a date?" She was always right. Even when I messed up really bad, she would just say, "Just keep putting the damn fishes in the damn boat, there's not a sumbitch thing else thing to do." Stacy, I hope you're in heaven, and I hope those fishes are calm motherfuckers that aren't always trying to jump out of the damn boat.


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."

I can't wait to write some eulogies for your friends and loved ones,


Hattie said...

This is very cool kitten. I wish i had some friends you didn't know.

Gina said...

i love this idea!

also, i want to tell you that i got your most recent chapbook & love it so so so much. i mean, i always love your writing but this one made me swell with all those amazing feeling that the writings i love most give me. you're going to be famous some day, i know it. xox

Leigh Stein said...

it isn't me, little bug. it's a girl named sarah smith. you can participate!

thank you gina!! you are very kind.