Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Memorial to Maria Fleuette DeGuzman


While reading the Sunday paper this morning, I was shocked to discover that Maria Fleuette DeGuzman had passed away last week, from "complications of a heart attack," according to the obituary. Here's that article (if you can't read it, click on the image to see it enlarged):


I really like how Maria is described here as "a vibrant, compassionate woman whose infectious (though sometimes excessive) enthusiasm was thoroughly enjoyed by those privileged to know her. An avid artist and writer, her unique creativity spilled into all aspects of her life." I didn't know Maria very well, but as much as I remember, that's her to a T.

I first met Maria at a poetry reading I gave in Cedar Falls . . . it's a bit fuzzy now, but I'm guessing it would have been in the mid- to late '90s. She had come to hear me read partly because I am Filipino American, and Maria had been married to a Filipino. In any case, we would often run into each other at literary and arts events. We always had lively conversations — that's the way it always was with Maria: everything was always lively and exciting around her — conversations about poetry and art and sometimes Filipino matters. After her family moved to New Jersey in 2004, we lost touch for some time, but then Maria found me on facebook, and we resumed those lively conversations electronically.

I'm writing about Maria today because I'd like to introduce you to her art and writing. She kept three blogs and they are a wonderful way to get to know her. Check them out. In them you'll enjoy her impassioned personality: fun, effervescent, volcanic, devoted to literature, the arts, and social justice.

First, "The Big Life" at http://lavidagorda.blogspot.com . . .


Second, "theBIGlife Calendars" at http://biglifecalendars.blogspot.com . . .


Third, "DAMN THE MAN!" at http://madasshell.blogspot.com . . .


I'm tempted to say her art and writing resemble the work of Lynda Barry — a Filipino American artist, incidentally, part Filipino — but while there are resemblances, Maria had an interestingly refreshing perspective as a writer and artist that was very much her own.

I won't say any more about Maria's work here. I'd love to hear what you think. Please leave me a comment below. You can also visit Maria's facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1509368934, which has now become a tribute page. (You might have to log in to facebook to see this.)

RIP, Maria Fleuette DeGuzman. You'll be very sorely missed, indeed, Maria.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice post Vince.
I am Maria's oldest brother. We are all having a hard time with this process.
She was one of the most genuine and intelligent people I have known and I am only now finding the impact she had on those she called friends. The outpouring of love I have seen is a true tribute to the person she was. Maria's art was special for a lot of reasons.
Joe

The obit was written by her children, Amelia and Jeremy.

Robin said...

Yea, I agree!! nice write up and very well put when describing Maria's conversations as "lively". She was always very passionate about what she spoke abt. Whenever I had a question abt anything I knew the person to go too and if she didnt know the answer, which was rare, she would find out. Maria was my best friend and I miss her every second of the day. The thing that I will miss most though is that at the end of our conversations we would sign off with a hug and a "I love you sister"....lol that's what Im gonna miss the most. Rest in Paradise my BEAUTIFUL friend!!!

Vince Gotera said...

Joe and Robin ... sorry to take so long to reply. I'm happy to be able to honor Maria. And glad that her family and friends find what I wrote worthy of her. Thanks! --Vince

Suzanne Stenson O'Brien said...

Vince, It's very cool to have these collected in one place. Thanks, and there are a lot of us out here sharing your consternation and awe.

Vince Gotera said...

Suzanne, thanks for your comment. Or, I guess, you're welcome. Though I wish we weren't saying any of this, actually. But Maria lived a good life and left a good heritage. --Vince

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