Cemetery Writing with Vestergade the Bestergade

I am still in the middle of the lengthy blog post chronicling all of last week, so I figured it’d be best if I at least got one more small something out there beforehand. That something has to do with Vestergade the Bestergade, as you can tell from my title. Long story short: everyone in my LLC signed a canvas with paint and some other unique materials (intrigued? Look out for my next post which will have the long story long), and Johnne graced us with that lovely moniker, which I will be using from here on out.

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A true work of art, I know.

Every Tuesday, my LLC will be having an event from 7-9pm, and this week we went to Assistens Cemetery in which Hans Christian Andersen was buried, as well as Kirkegaard. Cemeteries are not really my thing. Walking around dreary graves filled with corpses is eerie, and more than that, walking around and not being able to appreciate the people buried there feels wrong, like I am being disrespectful. The people that had names and stories and families—things I’ll never know about.  How would they feel if they knew I came only to write amongst them and to visit the two famous members of the deceased? Why should fame determine who we honor after death? But then again, how could it not? There is no sense in looking on a headstone of the ordinary unless you are one of the lucky ones to know of the ways in which they were extraordinary. Maybe I’m overthinking, I tend to do that, but to sum up my thoughts, cemeteries are not my thing because I’m far more fond of spending time with the living. With that being said, this trip to the cemetery was oddly enjoyable.

Our awesome LLC coordinator, Karina, gave us a brief tour and history lesson. What struck me the most was the detestation Kirkegaard had for Andersen, and vice versa. Apparently Andersen was too focused on creating fantastical tales for Kirkegaard’s taste. I didn’t take a photo of their graves, but I did take one of the cemetery’s time traveler, Andreas. (Look at the dates.)

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The cemetery itself was the kind of cemetery whose beauty shone through its simplicity. There were no flashy tombstones begging for more attention than the others. There weren’t crowds of people surrounding HC Andersen’s understated grave like at some touristy cemeteries. It was plain, yet lovely.

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This entrance was the one grand part of the cemetery

After our tour, Karina instructed us to spread out about the cemetery and write for 45 minutes about “the beginning.” I chose a serene spot underneath a great big tree that from below looked like a mosaic of branches and striking green leaves. I wrote for the full 45 minutes, but write well, I did not. I began with a story about two sisters and their dead fish, thinking I could somehow talk about the ending of the fish’s life as a new beginning. When that failed, I thought, “hmmm…maybe I can be super sophisticated and write a grandiloquent poem about nature.” That “poem” was crossed out after four lines. Finally, I moved on to write a YA story about a girl named Heather and her little brother. She was sitting in a cemetery, shockingly enough, and was thinking about life’s impermanence, and how that is what makes it so meaningful.

I was dissatisfied with my writing, but was still happy that I got something down. Any writing, no matter if it’s good or bad, is useful because it is practice. It allows you to flex and stretch those creative writing muscles that you sometimes forget about when you are stuck writing formal essays in school. All was well, or so I thought.

Then came the dreaded word “sharing.” My heart practically stopped. Sharing? I am not one to jump at the chance to read my work aloud, especially unedited, rough work that I’m not particularly proud of. Alas, there was nothing I could do but join everyone in the circle and let my words be spirited away into the night. I have to say, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. I felt vulnerable and a little terrified, but everyone was supportive and non-judgmental. Getting to hear each person’s unique voice and writing style ended up being an amazing experience. I am now even more impressed with the immensely talented people I live with. Some wrote journalistically, others wrote poems or prose. We even had one (shout out to Hannah) write a snippet of what will be her future TV show. I was blown away.

Vestergade truly is the Bestergade, and I can’t wait to hear more of the incredible and thought-provoking things my LLC creates.

2 thoughts on “Cemetery Writing with Vestergade the Bestergade

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