By Erica Buist

Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World’s Death Festivals

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Vermonty Python

Greetings from Vermont, where I am being all lovely and liberal while sitting in a vat of maple syrup. Obviously.

What I'm actually doing is spending a month walking from my room to the food hall to my writing studio at Vermont Studio Center, the largest artist residency in the US. There are 50 of us. We applied, we got in, we write all day, and sometimes we do karaoke. If you're so inclined, you can read more about that on my website. The nosiest among you will enjoy this video of my studio, so you can see just exactly where the book is being written


  • GAI JATRA in Nepal was truly incredible. Everyone who has lost someone in the past year took part in a procession through the town of Bhaktapur, and the day was full of music and dancing and laughter and utter joy. It's making for a wonderful chapter. Check out this snippet of a video I shot on the day. 
  • The next deathtival is mere weeks away, OGNISSANTI in Sicily, where I will also be learning how to make the traditional Sicilian bones of the dead for those of you who have ordered the Biscotti Edition.
  • Here at the writing residency I've just had a studio visit from poet and memoirist Sebastian Matthews, who gave great advice as well as extremely encouraging feedback on the book. Guys, I think it might be good. (I realise that since 150 of you have already paid for it you'll probably INSIST that it's good, so: yes. Fair enough. I'll make it good.)
  • THIS PARTY'S DEAD has now reached 30% funding and 150 pledges. Those are some deliciously round numbers, but for the sake of the book I must insist it gets ruined, so if you feel like topping up your pledge, sharing, or pledging for a copy if you haven't already, then please go ahead! 

I'll leave you with a few pictures of where I'm writing (the entire book, in fact, apart from the death festivals to come: Sicily in November, Thailand in April, Japan and Indonesia in August, and Madagascar in September). 

Love/ best/ firm handshake/ awkward wave/ whatever's appropriate for our level of acquaintance,


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