VITALIJA KEBLYS

From: John T. Gerlosky ( Gerulis )

I am new to the LithuanianGenealogy@onelist.com and the Lithuanian Global Genealogical Society. As a third generation Lithuanian, I was raised by my Lithuanian grandmother from 18 months of age until age 10 when my father died. Thereafter, I was raised in foster homes and lost contact with my Lithuanian family roots. However, I remember my grandmother telling me in the Lithuanian language the following: Nuo galvos iki koju, atsiminti Lietuviskai which I understood at the time and remember the meaning-From head to toe, remember you are Lithuanian or words to that effect.

I have not forgotten that and in the search for my family ancestry, submit for what it is worth the following information from page 10A, The Fayetteville Observer Times, Sunday Morning, December 3, 1989 as it pertains to "Louisiana Chemistry Teacher Is Lithuania's Poet Laureate."


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)

When Vitalija Keblys left her home in 1945 just ahead of invading Russian troops, she never dreamed she would be invited back to her native land to be honored as the Poet Laureate of Lithuania.

But that's what happened when the high-school chemistry teacher became the 20th person, the fourth woman and the only "foreigner" to hold the honor in Lithuania, once an independent country but under Soviet domination since World War II.

"I was born in Lithuania, but we left when the Russians were coming, and now I am an American citizen, so I am really a foreigner in my native land," she said. "We left on foot," she continued. "We just walked away. The Russians were only half a mile away, and as we left we could see them. We went to Dresden and lived through the Dresden firebombing."

The young immigrant arrived in Baltimore as a sophomore in high school but went to work in a factory and finished school in summers and evenings in just over a year. She studied chemistry because she knew mathematics, but not English.

Mrs. Keblys, 55 kept writing all her life-in Lithuanian. "I was a poet before I was a chemist" she said. "I never write in English because I don't have the command of the language. It has to be your mother tongue. I'm strictly a Lithuanian poet. I teach in English and write in Lithuanian."

All of her work has been published in Chicago except her last book of poetry, "Kelione" ("A Journey"), which was published in Lithuania. She writes under her maiden name Vitalija Boguta. Mrs. Keblys went to Lithuania two years ago and again this year and participated in the annual festival, an event that draws crowds. She did not know that she had won first prize at this summer festival until she arrived.

Her address is:
Vitalija Keblys
15225 Seven Pines
Baton Rouge, LA 70817


RETURN TO TABLE OF CONTENTS

Home Books Guestbook E-Mail