poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

July 11, 2015

In Memory of ISABEL A. GALURA (June 5, 1932 – July 10, 2015)

Isabel Galura w FWD Nov 2012

Remembering Tita Belle

by Emily P. Lawsin

With immense sadness, we mourn the passing of Filipina American pioneer, Isabel A. Galura, who was one of the three narrators featured in the book that her son, Joseph, and I co-authored, entitled, Filipino Women in Detroit: 1945-1955, Oral Histories from the Filipino American Oral History Project of Michigan.

“Belle”, as she was affectionately known, died on Friday, July 10, 2015, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Isabel was born on June 5, 1932, in Bangar, La Union, Philippines, and immigrated to the United States on July 4, 1954, as the first Filipina accepted to the post-graduate internship in clinical dietetics at Detroit’s Harper Hospital. The few Filipina American women in the area befriended her and eventually introduced her to the man who would become her husband, Atilano Galura.galura wedding photo

When I first met Tita Belle almost 15 years ago, she and Joe invited me to her home for a delicious meal of Filipino food and then asked if I was interested in seeing some of her late husband’s photographs. She brought out several boxes that had letters and material artifacts, all neatly preserved in file folders, dating from the 1920s-90s. I peeked inside a crisp envelope and my hands began shaking when I found her husband’s boat ticket to America, dated 1929! Later, Tita Belle became the driving force behind our Filipino American Oral History Project, as she would open up her address book and call her friends from the Filipino Women’s Club of Detroit (founded in 1952), encouraging them to be interviewed for our project.

In 2004, Tita Belle became a founding member of the Filipino American National Historical Society Michigan Chapter (FANHS-MI) and was appointed Assistant Treasurer. She actively participated and regularly attended FANHS-MI’s intergenerational Filipino Youth Initiative classes every Sunday at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM).

Memorial services will be held this Sunday and Monday, July 12-13, in Westland, Michigan (see below).

Maraming salamat po / many thanks, Tita Belle, for being a mother/Lola-figure for me and so many others. We are eternally grateful for all that you did for us and for our community. Mahal kita / I love you and miss you.

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OBITUARY and MEMORIAL SERVICES July 12-13, 2015

ISABEL A. GALURA
June 5, 1932 – July 10, 2015

Isabel A. Galura, a resident of Westland, Michigan, passed away on July 10, 2015 at the age of 83.

Isabel was the beloved wife of the late Atilano; the loving mother of Joseph (Catherine) Galura, Anna (Louis) Smutek and the late Peter; the dear sister of Georgia (Cirilo) Leoncio; and the cherished grandmother of David and Genevra Galura and Christiana and Andrew Smutek.

Isabel will be resting at the L.J. Griffin Funeral Home in Westland (7707 Middlebelt Road at Ann Arbor Trail) on Sunday, July 12, from 3-9 p.m. There will be a Rosary at 6:30 p.m.

She will be Instate at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, July 13, at St. Damian Catholic Church, 30055 Joy Road (West of Middlebelt) until the time of her Funeral Mass at 12 p.m.

Her final resting place will be Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in her memory to either the University of Michigan Cancer Center, or the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (17356 Northland Park Ct., Southfield, MI 48075).

 

Sign the guestbook online:

http://www.griffinfuneralhome.com/sitemaker/sites/LJGrif1/obit.cgi?user=83637935_IGalura

 

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July 15, 2013

POEMS: Litany, In Memory of Aiyana Jones & Trayvon Martin

Here are two spoken word poems: the first one is a draft that I wrote the morning after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, the second one I wrote two years ago.

 

Litany VIII, In Memory of Aiyana Jones and Trayvon Martin

© by Emily P. Lawsin

*

A fellow writer once said that

poems should not just be a list

re-telling events, because that

treads on the territory of

journalism, or gossip rags.

But when you live in a place where

bulldozers routinely tear down

homes with elderly crouched inside,

*

mass destruction is considered

normal, and Black children are shot

after reality TV

crews and SWAT teams ignore dolls and

tricycles in the yard and hurl

flash-bang grenades through front windows,

you search for news reports, hoping

none of your suspicions bear truth.

*

You pause to pray and remember:

*

1929: Fermin Tobera (Watsonville, California).

1955: Emmett Till (Money, Mississippi).

1963: Medgar Evers (Jackson, Mississippi).

1982: Vincent Chin (Highland Park, Michigan).

2006: Fong Lee (Minneapolis, Minnesota).

2006: Chon Buri Xiong (Warren, Michigan).

2009: Oscar Grant (Oakland, California).

2010: Aiyana Jones (Detroit, Michigan).

2010: John T. Williams (Seattle, Washington).

2012: Trayvon Martin (Sanford, Florida).

2013: Rodrigo Abad Diaz (Lilburn, Georgia).

*

These names: just a fraction of a

list of lament. What do they share

in common? Their killers walked free,

only one convicted, but not

until 31 years later.

The story of our nation, stained

by the brown blood of our children,

shot or beaten to death as they

*

rode their bike home, or as they laid

cradled in their beds fast asleep,

or simply walking down the street,

ambushed by bullets, baseball bats,

buried, but never forgotten.

As mothers, what do we say to

our children facing these assaults?

How do we protect them before

*

History repeats itself

Again?

 

 

July 14, 2013

Emily P. Lawsin lives in the metro Detroit area.

 * * *

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A Litany, To Little White Liars

© by Emily P. Lawsin

 

are you not aware that

our ancestors won revolutions

against centuries of colonial rule

do you not realize that

your people cut our tongues

erased our languages and burned our villages

are you not aware that

we descend from warriors

who fought for this country’s freedom in their sacred homelands

do you not realize that

our parents were held captive as innocent citizens

separated for years in horse stables then behind barbed wire

are you not aware that

our mothers stuffed pillows up their skirts

fleeing to charred hills so your army would not rape them

do you not realize that

our fathers suffered beatings and delirium

in death marches through deserts, yet still survived?

*

THEN LET THIS SERVE AS FAIR WARNING:

*

we know what revolution is

because our ancestors gave birth to it.

*

we taste it in the scars in our mouths

every time we swallow.

*

the poison you bombed our homelands with

seeps out of our blood as daily reminders

*

and we will not rest until the nightmares of sirens

echoed in your voice stops ringing in our ears.

*

Ann Arbor, May 12, 2011

 www.emilylawsin.com

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June 27, 2013

DETROIT SAT 6/29: FREE FILM SCREENING & GRACE LEE BOGGS’ 98th BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Happy 98th Birthday to Grace Lee Boggs! To see why I’ve lived in the Detroit area for most of the past 13 years, see the NEW documentary, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs: www.americanrevolutionaryfilm.com The film just won the AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE at the Los Angeles Film Festival. AND there is an excellent review in Variety. Get on the mailing list, Like the film on Facebook, and/or Follow @GLBoggsFilm or @GraceLeeBoggs on Twitter to see when the film is coming to your town (or organize a screening)! The film is directed by the incredible Grace Lee (of the Grace Lee Project). And yes, if you’re paying attention, I have brief cameo shots in both films. 🙂

Join us this Saturday, June 29, 2013, for a FREE film screening at the Detroit Film Theatre inside the DIA, followed by a reception in the DIA’s beautiful Rivera Court (where the Diego Rivera murals are). Peep the flyer and help spread the word:

Image

September 19, 2012

My Favorite Blair Poems and Songs: Happy 45th Birthday Blair (RIP)

I am thinking of my brotherfriend, the late David Blair, on what would have been his 45th Birthday. Here are some of his poems and songs that I love and listen to the most. I feel so thankful for all the gifts that he shared with our family and the world. 

http://www.thebestphotographerindetroit.com/davidblair

Blair, 2006. Photo by David Lewinski.

Excerpt from “Behind the Garage” Poem

by David Blair, 2002 National Poetry Slam

. . . I know people think I’m crazy

Because I dare to believe

That stars can fall into my cereal bowl

And mingle with the milk swirls.

And I know it’s irrational to

Throw crayons at God

And ask him to color the sky purple.

Yet, I remember the time that I did,

And the next morning I awoke to royalty skyward

To a majestic landscape of fantastic above.

And I remember later that evening

Finding the ladders tucked away behind the garage

Strewn amongst thousands of Crayola boxes all missing violets.

Does my memory serve me correctly or was there none of this?

Am I mad?

I won’t be angry.

It’s just that you’ve been dead for so long now

But I still wake up from dreams of you running through fields of flowers

The sound of one hundred acoustic guitars strumming and picking a beautiful music.

Today, I heard a music that could make the snow shine,

That could make the dead leaves claw a path through the lawn away from me.

Today I saw the beautiful shadow of a bird soar across a concrete wall,

Was that you?

 ~by Blair

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Blair’s performance of “Behind the Garage”  helped the Detroit Slam Team win the National Poetry Slam in 2002. Coach Aurora Harris said she told him that the opera singing would be a good addition, that it would blow everyone’s mind. Sistahfriend ain’t never lied. Now that Blair has passed away, the most poignant stanzas to me come at the end (transcribed above). Watch Blair’s 2002 “Behind the Garage” winning performance here:  http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/55781888  and a 2010 Performance at the Detroit Institute for the Arts (DIA) Film Theatre, for TedX (where Blair begins by taking a photo of the crowd), below:  http://youtu.be/AiheqPT0vL4

* * *

“Detroit (While I Was Away)”:  I love watching this when I’m on the road traveling. There are several, more polished video versions online (including Detroit Lives! and TedX 2010); I like this one because it reveals Blair’s own feelings and the way strangers in the audience responded to him. Despite his decades of award-winning, amazing performances, Blair would still get nervous at events like this. Because he was human. And the best at what he did: http://youtu.be/6CCnRr1dQvw

Video: Detroit (While I Was Away) by D Blair at TedX 10/21/09

* * *

Less than a year before Blair passed away, InsideOut Literary Arts Project commissioned Blair to put Emily Dickinson’s songs to music. This one is my favorite. In this video, he says he was working on a new album called “Reasons for Leaving”, as if he knew that he would leave us:  http://youtu.be/lIRu0eW9hig

Video: Blair Performs “I Haven’t Told My Garden Yet” a Poem by Emily Dickinson, at Wayne State University, February 28, 2011

* * *

More of David Blair’s music, poetry, and merchandise are on his manager’s website: http://seriousartists.com/honor/

Blair’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BlairandtheBF

Obituary on the memorial website is here: http://www.dblair.org/

For some poems that I wrote about Blair, see elsewhere on this blog: https://divadiba.wordpress.com/?s=blair

Happy would-have-been 45th Birthday, Blair. Rest in Peace and Poetry. We love you and miss you.

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www.emilylawsin.com
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September 16, 2011

Saturday 9/17: 1st Annual Blair’s Crowded House

 I am honored to be performing at this. Come out and support if you can. Still missing you, Blair.

 1st Annual Blair’s Crowded House

 Saturday, September 17, 2011

 7PM to 2 AM

@ Tangent Gallery / Hastings St. Ballroom

715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit, MI

Admission: Sliding Scale Donation ($5 to $50)

In honor of Blairs legendary Crowded House events, friends and family are launching an annual Blair’s Crowded House, on the weekend of what would have been his 44th birthday.  Featuring videos of Blair, a photo exhibit, a time for writing remembrances, and 40 Performers, including Emily P. Lawsin, The Boyfriends, Alison Lewis, Monica Blaire, Jamaal Versiz May, Airea Dee Matthews, Khary Kimani Turner, Mike E, and Invincible.  Proceeds go towards the David Blair Memorial Fund to help Detroit artists in times of crisis; donate online here: www.dblair.org 

Find us on Facebook, HERE.

To read my poems on Blair, click HERE.

www.emilylawsin.com


September 20, 2008

P.S: A LOVE LETTER FOR INVINCIBLE

OMG! YOU KNOW INVINCIBLE?

P.S. TO ALL MY DETROIT SUMMER FAMILY:

A LOVE LETTER FOR ILANA FROM BOSTON

The BEST part of Friday night’s show at Boston Progress Arts Collective’s East Meets West Bookstore happened when we were locking up the joint. One MC (who I don’t want to name because I’m not trying to embarrass him) started jumpin’ up and down when he found out I know Invincible. Seriously.

He said, “Hey, you’re from Detroit. Do you know Invincible?”

“Yes, of course I do. She’s a good friend of ours. She’s Anak’s Auntie Ilana.”

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, she knows Invincible! She knows Invincible!” he screamed, jumping and grabbing all the hip hop heads. Pretty soon they were all around me starry-eyed saying, “We LOVE Invincible. We LOVE Shapeshifters. Do you have her new album Shapeshifters?

“Of course I do, we’re investors.” (Partner later told me that we’re actually not “financial” investors, but I told him we should be.) Anyway, I don’t know what they would’ve done if I told them Ilana gave us the rough cut of the CD too. 

The fans continued, “Oh my god, we were waiting and waiting for years for Invincible to come out with her own album, and then when she came out with Shapeshifters this year, we were so happy!

“So happy. It is off the hook!” another said.

“Oh my god, you know Invincible. We are such big fans of Invincible. Wait, wait, how do you know her?”

“We were all volunteers with this intergenerational youth program called Detroit Summer–“

“Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! We know Detroit Summer. From her song ‘Locusts‘.

Die-hards!

“Do you have the L.A.M.P. CD? They came out with a CD,” I said.

“Oh yeah, the L.A.M.P. CD, so cool. Oh my god, she knows Invincible. I can’t believe it.”

I don’t know what they would’ve done if I told them we gave Ilana half of our household items when we left Detroit (all of which are embarrassingly described in last month’s incredible Metro Times cover story, here).

“Wait, how did you guys discover Invincible?” I asked.

“We heard her track years ago on this group — the Platinum Pied Pipers CD and we loved it.”

Yes, Detroit Winter: “if you can’t take the winter, you don’t deserve the summer.” I think these fans might have a heart attack if I show them the pictures on my computer of PPP’s live show (with Invincible) from Detroit’s Taste Fest ’05.

Invincible performs with Platinum Pied Pipers at Detroit Taste Fest, July 4, 2005. (c) Photo by Scott Kurashige.

Invincible performs with Platinum Pied Pipers at Detroit Taste Fest, July 4, 2005. (c) Photo by Scott Kurashige.

“Oh my god. She knows Invincible. We would love to meet her.”

“Hey, if you guys want to bring her out here for a show, she can stay with us, no problem. Just let me know. We can call her right now.”

“That would be so dope. We should do that,” they said.

SO SISTAHFRIEND ILANA:

I think you’re way overdue for a Boston show.

And Anak would love to see you too!!! 🙂

Now, I tell this story because it was so heartwarming to see that these young bloods all the way in Boston love Invincible just as much as those of us in Detroit do. They recognize her true gift with words and music. After all her years of struggle and serving our community, she deserves recognition and success, especially with her new album. Shapeshifters.

If you don’t have one yet, get yours today at http://www.emergencemusic.net/store .

And tell Mike I sent you. 😛

I also tell this story because it shows how really small this world is. AND that if you find the radical/progressive artists in any city, they are going to know YOU/your radical/progressive artist friends too.

I mean, if you are currently an artist-activist from Detroit and you don’t know Invincible, then you are either:

  • a) not really an artist,
  • b) not really a community activist, or
  • c) not really from Detroit.

Seriously.

Minamahal/Much love to Ilana for giving me some street cred!!! 🙂

As we all told Grace during Conversations in Maine,

“Detroit is a part of us. It is always in our hearts. We will take Detroit wherever we go.”

Yes.

Miss you all much.  xoxox  ;-*

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