Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beyond Language

Last Sunday, the Columbus arts community lost one of its most talented members. Gina Blaurock was an artist, poet, and my friend. Her unexpected passing has left many of those who knew her gutted and in shock. She created her own jewelry and sold it in many places including Gallery Hop and Comfest. She wrote and performed poems that were insightful, wickedly funny and magnificent. Her work for the Columbus Arts Festival Word is Art Stage committee was valued and diligent. She won the poetry contest at the arts festival, twice. Last year Louise Robertson needed a last minute poet to do a lengthy set and Gina came through with a performance that was mesmerising, and did it all from memory. That was Gina, she was clutch.

Her brain contained a jukebox of songs, mostly from the eighties, she never needed a lyric sheet. During poetry slams, we went to her for the poets’ scores before using a calculator. When she and I sat together during open mics, we were bad influences on each other and giggled the whole night with snarky commentary. Steve Brightman took the only picture of us that I could find. We were rarely this serious when we sat together.

Word began to spread online about her death on Wednesday afternoon. The grief was deep. Writers’ Block had its open mic that night which quickly and rightfully turned into a poetic wake for Gina. Many of us gave sweet eulogies and reminisces about how much she touched our lives. It was a necessary thing for us to do, but it just touched the surface of our sorrow. Poets who have not been to the show in ages came out to pay tribute. When I was talking to Scott Woods and Louise after the show, we thought that she is the first of the regular and long time Writers’ Block poets to die, and why did it have to be her? We were all supposed to get old together.

Today was the service. I met her brother and mother, who were both understandably still in shock. Neither of them really knew how much Gina affected the communities she lived in. She really knew how to compartmentalize her life. Vernell Bristow has been a great help to her family and she delivered a well thought out and appropriate eulogy. I bought a red balloon and asked her brother if I could put it by the altar. One of Gina’s most endearing poems quoted 99 Luftballoons. There were a lot of poets in the room, and a couple who traveled from Chicago and Washington DC to be with us. A lot of love was in there.

I was not aware of how strongly Buddhist Gina was, neither was her brother. But he told a very touching story about how he contacted a local Buddhist temple for help and it was amazing that over a dozen of their flock came to celebrate the life of a complete stranger to them. The head explained to us what was happening then they chanted, then she sang a couple of lovely hymns in a powerful voice none of us expected to hear. It was a beautiful celebration.

I hope that somehow her writing is found, kept and preserved. She only put out one chapbook about ten years ago and there’s only one poem of hers on youtube at this point.

Here is the link to it.

It would be a profound disservice for her work to be lost and undocumented. I wonder if there is a way an executor or steward of her literary estate can be appointed to keep her poems alive? A quality book published with the proceeds going to her Niece could be a great way to honor her. I do not want her voice to disappear and I suspect there are others who feel the same. I did mention this to her brother and think after all the love her saw for his sister from people he did not know that he understands.

We’re going to miss her so much, I cannot believe she is gone.

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