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The Lonely Funeral, ed. F. Starik

Reader reviews

Actually, it’s not nearly as gloomy a publication as the title suggests. It’s positively life-affirming, in fact. An exercise in civic decency: yes, too little, too late, but nevertheless so much better than nothing---a discreet two fingers up at silence and oblivion.

A series of Dutch and Flemish poets have written poems to be read out during the funerals of all those unfortunates in Amsterdam and Antwerp respectively whose funerals are unattended, either because the person whose remains are being interred is nameless, or because they died completely alone.

Such poems are ‘occasional’, of course, and therefore the quality is bound to be variable. This in any case represents only a small selection of all those that have been written so far. One presumes that these are already the best of the bunch.

One of the main movers of this estimable enterprise, the late Frank Starik, provides prose commentaries (quirky, poignant, humorous, matter-of-fact) for most of the Amsterdam funerals, and, in a few cases, also his own poetry. The Antwerp funerals have Maarten Inghels as their prose reporter. Some of the other most moving poems are by Menno Wigman, Judith Herzberg, Alfred Schaffer, Lies van Gasse and Peter Theunynck.

All these names are new to me: but we know far too little of Dutch and Flemish poetry. How astonishingly commendable of arc publishing to bring them to our attention. When will we have a really good fat anthology of poetry from the Low Countries in translation?

Kevin Maynard, 20 Feb 2019