Although Detroitâ€™s Grammy Award Winner Sippie Wallace had one of the most dominant voices of women bluesâ€™ singers, she was nearly lost to history until Virginia Law Burns of Laingsburg included Wallace in her young adult book â€œBold Women in Michigan Historyâ€.Â Sippie lived in Detroit mostÂ of her life and died in 1986. She is an inductee of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Read more about Sippie by clicking here.
Now along with other authors, storytellers and poets Law Burns, now 84, will help pass that torch to women who yearn to tell their stories and the stories of other women. During March, area authors and storytellers will conduct free readings, writing workshops and storytelling sessions at Everybody Reads bookstore at 2019 East Michigan Avenue in Lansing. Visit Everybody Reads website by clicking here.
The program is called, HerStories and was organized by Lansing community organizer and poet Mellisa Dey Hasbrook. Programs will for the first four Saturdays beginning at 1 p.m.Â
Dey Hasbrook, who has a penchant for organizing community events revolving around writing said, her focus is to join words and the community.Â
â€œIt is great for me to see work in print, but I find more fulfillment in taking words to people directly.â€Â
Dey Hasbrook has published several works of poetry and will release a new collection this spring.Â
Law Burns will join several other authors from the community in doing readings and conducting writer workshops including Andrea King Collier (â€œStill with Me: A Daughterâ€™s Journey of Love and Lossâ€); Marilyn Mayer Culpepper (â€œNever Will We Forget: Oral Histories of World War IIâ€). In addition several poets and storytellers will present programs.
Michigan writerÂ at her craft more than 60 years
Law Burns, who was first published nearly 60 years ago, began writing short feature articles for newspapers and at one time had a weekly feature in the Lansing State Journal on what it was like for a young mother to live in the â€œwildernessâ€ of Northern Michigan. She later wrote non-fiction young adult biographies of the frontier doctor William Beaumont and Michiganâ€™s Boy Governor Lewis Cass, among others, but after she wrote â€œTall Annieâ€, the biography of Annie Clemenc, an Upper Peninsula labor organizer, she decided to focus on what she calls â€œmy journeyâ€ to write women back into history. In 2006, she published â€œBold Women of Michiganâ€ and is now finishing a similar book on women in American history.
It was serendipity and the curiosity of Law Burns that Dey Hasbrook and she met. Law Burns said her granddaughter, a Lansing Community College student, told her about what a cool place Gone Wired CafÃ© in Lansing was and when she saw a notice about a writerâ€™s meeting she showed up and connected with Dey Hasbrook who was organizing a month-long event celebrating women and writing.Â
â€œBack in my glory days I used to get $200 an hour (for doing writer workshops) but now in this economy giving back is much more joy,â€ Law Burns said.Â
â€œIâ€™m 84 now and this (writing) is what keeps me going. When it comes to putting women in history, weâ€™ve got a lot of catching up to do,â€ she said.Â
â€œI just wish when I was younger I had mentors and opportunities like this.â€Â
HerStories presents an extensive array of free workshops and events over the four Saturdays in March and will culminate with an open mike for authors and poets to read said Dey Hasbrook. The Open Mike will be held at 4 p.m., March 27 and there is no cost to attend the open mike, but any donations will go to the Womenâ€™s Center of Greater Lansing. HerStories events begin on March 6 at 1:00pm with storytelling for all ages by Jean Bolley (Lansing Storytellers) and Lynette Brown (Michigan Womenâ€™s Historical Center and Hall of Fame) followed by the workshop â€œJournaling through Changeâ€ at 2:30pm with Holly Makimaa (Oasis Wellness).
To learn more about the HerStories events and how to register for the writerâ€™s workshop visit the event website by clicking here.Â
Dey Hasbrook said one author submission from the workshops will be published by the magazine, â€œGreater Lansing Womenâ€.
She said the bookstore, Everybody Reads, is â€œa wonderful setting to join words with the personâ€.