Category Archives: Ingrid Lucia

My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955

My Aunt Norma in Puerto Rico circa 1955.

Her name was Norma Giraloma Congilosi.  She had jet black curly hair, olive skin, sloe green eyes. She was the epitome of culture, style, and grace.   She could also curse like a longshoreman and saw no contradiction in that.

Norma
Norma Giraloma Congilosi, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1955.

Almost entirely self-educated and no sufferer of fools, she started her post-secondary education at a community college only to leave, disappointed, because she was more well-read than her instructors.

She worked for United Airlines and traveled the world, often alone, which was considered unusual at that time.  She spoke French, Spanish, and Italian, including the Sicilian dialect her Sicilian/Ethiopian/North African father spoke at home.

She was a poet, a feminist, activist, and fighter for civil and equal rights way ahead of her time.

I was fascinated with Norma and her stories of beatniks, revolutionaries, poets and playwrights in San Francisco and NYC.  

Her contemporaries were white, black, brown, straight, lesbian, and gay.   She wrote poetry under the pseudonym Nya Gailord Carver. 

I loved how she simply took her freedom; she didn’t wait for it to be granted or sanctioned.

The nasty comments sometimes thrown her way were a small price to pay for autonomy.

Somewhat surprisingly, her mother, my grandmother Maria Grazia Amato Congilosi, a devout Catholic Sicilian paired in an arranged marriage with her father’s tinsmith apprentice, my grandfather Alfonso Congilosi, not only did not judge her iconoclastic daughter harshly, but seemed to vicariously enjoy her adventures.

She worried about her unconventional daughter, but she never tried to clip her wings–not even when she fell in love with a Jewish doctor and began classes to convert to Judaism after he proposed.

Norma  packed a whole lot of living into her first twenty-seven years.

She was stricken with MS at age twenty-six; she stayed independent as long as she could.

She weathered abandonment by her Jewish fiance, the loss of her spectacular San Francisco apartment, her job, and her independence,  with a feisty spirit and a salty tongue.

By age thirty she was confined to a “rest home” where she continued to curse, laugh, smoke a hookah, and shake her fist at God.

As a child, I both loved and feared visiting her there. She lived to age sixty-two; I had a hard time forgiving God for her thirty-two years in a hospital bed.

As happens in families, I was often mistakenly called by her name by my mother and grandmother.

  In our family, her name was synonymous with style, verve, and a sensibility on a first name basis with originality. 

I took it as a compliment. 

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Author’s Note: I wrote a poem, Sweet Revenant, to her memory,  and paired it with Kristin Fouquet’s gorgeous photos of Ingrid Lucia.

 

 

Sweet Revenant, for Norma, a poem by Maura Alia Badji

Sweet Revenant,  for Norma

In French heels, you were film
noir to the neighborhood’s two-reel
matinee. Sloe-eyed and languorous
your gaze said I’m not here to stay.
Years-gone, yours was the voice, husky
and moist, I tried on in night clubs,

poet haunts. Confident your muse could lend
siren-sleek accents, glimmers of poise
to quirky choices, I stutter-stepped my way
home. Hopefully chic in black dresses,
I side-swiped heart quakes, courted

disaster, certain my map of your insolent
laughter would save the day. More than once,
I swore I caught your slim, crepe de chined
form leaning languid at my door. Face half-turned
from porch-light, I breathed your dreamy whisper–
Buona seda, faccia bedda. Sleep, sleep tight.

~Maura Alia Badji

 

Poet: Maura Alia Badji’s poems and essays have appeared in Barely South Review, Cobalt, ArtVoice Buffalo, Switched-on Gutenberg, Exhibition, convolvulus, Spillway, teenytiny, Signals, The Buffalo Times, and The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Her themes include multiracial identity and families, female ancestors, social justice, female sexuality, and the discovery and creation of mythos. Maura has been a contributing writer for The Buffalo Times, Soul Music of The World, and LivingSocial.com; she has guest-blogged for NOLAFemmes, Eat.Drink.Memory, and piquant. Her blog is The Moxie Bee http://www.themoxiebee.com

She is a member of The Watering Hole collective, an online community for poets of color ( https://twhpoetry.wordpress.com/) and is grateful for the excellent online classes, and mutual support of ‪#‎tribe‬ she has found there.

Maura earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of WA, Seattle, where she was an Editorial Assistant to Coleen J. McElroy at The Seattle Review. Maura was a Tutor/Advocate for migrant children from the Caribbean and Mexico, and taught ESL night classes to migrant workers in Ulster/Dutchess Counties. She taught Early Childhood Special Education for a decade in the Mid-Hudson Valley of NY, Portsmouth and Norfolk, Virginia. She is a certified massage therapist and a Reiki practitioner.

A NY State native, she lives and dreams in the Seven Cities region of Virginia with her son, Ibrahim. She is working on returning to the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Photos: Wanderlust, Front
Wanderlust, Back

Photographer: Kristin Fouquet, New Orleans, LAhttp://www.fouquet.cc/kristin/LeSalon.html

Model: Ingrid Lucia, New Orleans, LA
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/ingrid-lucia-mn0000090010

Wanderlust
Wanderlust, front by Kristen Fouquet
Maura Alia Badji
Wanderlust, Back; by Kristin Fouquet

Ingrid Lucia–Dreams Aren’t Only for the Young

Dreams Aren’t Only for the Young–Ingrid Lucia– Live@ Snug Harbor, NOLA, Filmed by Kristen Fouquet

Ingrid Lucia is a jazz vocalist and musician based in New Orleans, LA; she is the leader of the Flying Neutrinos, a band founded by her parents in the 1980s.

Ingrid Lucia
INGRID LUCIA

Of their first CD, “I’d Rather Be on New Orleans”, the Washington Post said, “There are times when Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos’ album I’d Rather Be in New Orleans is enticing enough to make even a staunch New Yorker feel homesick for the Big Easy. A sultry, behind-the-beat voice, a combination of sometimes languid, sometimes syncopated rhythms, and lots of evocative brass all conspire to make this a picture postcard of an album.”

Ingrid Lucia and Kristen Fouquet have collaborated on projects before, most recently ” The Shotgun Sunday Series” postcard collection. See Kristin’s site Le Salon for more information.

 

KRISTIN FOUQUET

Kristin Fouquet is a writer and photographer in the lovely city of New Orleans. Her short fiction and fine art and street photography have been published widely online and in print. She is the author of Twenty Stories (Rank Stranger Press 2009), a collection of short literary fiction, Rampart and Toulouse (Rank Stranger Press, 2011), a novella and other stories, The Olive Stain and other stories (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2013), an e-chapbook, and the print version, The Olive Stain and other stories (Le Salon Press, 2013).

Her virtual home is http://www.fouquet.cc/kristin/LeSalon.html

~Maura Alia Badji