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Reimagine End of Life is a week exploring big questions about life and death.
SF Bay Area October 24 – November 03, 2019

On Passing On: Poetry to Ease the Final Passage

Hosted by

Ruth's Table

On Passing On: Poetry to Ease the Final Passage

Friday, October 25


3160 21st Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
In Japanese history, writing or reciting jiseior - a “death poem” - at final moments of life was a widespread tradition. On Passing On takes us through the process of creating our own swansong.

On Passing On, is an interactive poetry workshop featuring acclaimed poet Bob Holman, producer for PBS’ The United States of Poetry and Language Matters, working with folklorist Steve Zeitlin and Phyllis Zimmer, President of the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation.

Participants will have a chance to write their own death poem in the Japanese style of jisei. In Japan, Zen monks, Samurai warriors, and Buddhist haiku poets developed the tradition of writing jisei, or the “death poem.” Many of these were written in the final moments of a poet’s life, a farewell to life, a poetic swansong.

Poems will have the chance to be read aloud at the workshop and collected for presentation as a visual art piece on final day of the Reimagine End of Life festival.

This program is presented in partnership with Ruth’s Table who provides an inclusive and welcoming space for people of all ages and abilities to engage with arts.


Interactive Ritual Performance Workshop Literature