poems for the unsung

I am deeply impressed.

Browsing through my reader today, I stumbled upon words written by E.I. Wong:

“In Amsterdam

if someone dies without a next of kin

and no one attends their funeral

a poet is hired to write and recite a piece for their service.

It doesn’t pay a whole lot

but at least I can start writing off

those vats of homemade “hobo poison”

as a tax deductible business expense.”

Whereas these lines stand in their own right for their witticism and craft, I was immediately caught by the idea, to hire poets for the funerals of people who die without anyone noticing. This maybe comes from my own musings, as I am much likely going to be one of those, given that I live far away from family (I don’t think, that word of my death will get to them before the city will have taken care of me) and given that I might well outlive most of the people dear to me here in Berlin (bridge and golf are old folks pasttimes, in general. Even my friend, the undertaker, is minimum 15 years my senior, so who will take me under, I wonder). 2015 being a year confronting me with so many funerals to attend (the next one takes place tomorrow morning, I have to add and if I sum them up, the figure is close to 10 or so), my mind is obviously working along those last things much more than usual. No surprise, I got hooked with Ming’s post.

I wondered, if he made this up entirely or if Amsterdam really hired poets to honour those, who have to be buried without anyone attending. He was kind enough, to send me the link to this article, stating it as a fact. Although I hoped for it to be true, I somehow was floored, finding out it really was. Maybe because this proofs to be such an act of kindness. Proof of humanity existing in ways one never imagined.

If there were a printed collection of these poems for the unsung, I would buy it. Better even, an illustrated book, connecting the words and impressions of the occasion. Or just giving the name and known facts of the deceased and the according poem. If  any of this exists, let me know. If not, someone should start immediately. Heck, if I could, I would.

Anyhow, the city of Amsterdam has risen in my estimate to top-notch city. Maybe I’ll move there in old age. Just to make sure…

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