by Alice Andresen
Charlotte Digregorio recently received an Official Commendation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for her 38 years of accomplishments as an author, speaker, university educator, writing judge, and exhibitor, advancing and promoting the literary arts for the benefit of adults and students nationally and internationally.
“I am very honored to have received the Governor’s Commendation for my life’s work in various writing genres, including poetry, which have brought me much fulfillment and pleasure,” Digregorio said. “I recently published my sixth book, Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All, and am often referred to as a ‘People’s Poet,’ working to bring the same popularity to literary artists as enjoyed by visual artists,” Digregorio says.
The author says that most people don’t think of reading poetry, so she exhibits her illustrated poetry– combined with painting and photography– to draw people’s attention to it. She exhibits in libraries, museums and galleries, at botanic gardens, corporate buildings, wine shops, convention centers, restaurants, theatres, apparel stores, hospitals, and banks. Her poems are also displayed in buses.
She does poetry readings and workshops in a variety of places: Buddhist Temples, tea houses, museums, nature and art centers, wine bars, hospitals, and executive office buildings, in addition to bookstores, libraries, cafes, and senior centers. She gives poetry workshops to at-risk students in the public schools who have trouble reading and writing. Further, she regularly hosts poetry open mics.
Currently, she is also a freelance journalist and gives seminars in journalistic writing, after a career as a magazine/ newspaper editor, and university professor of languages and writing. She publishes her fiction, while working on her seventh book, a collection of her 500 published poems.
Digregorio largely uses technology to make national and international contacts. Her writers’ blog, www.charlottedigregorio.wordpress.com, includes the work of writers from 33 countries in 1,400 posts. Poets that she has met have translated her poems into eight languages. Her poetry has been featured at readings and programs hosted by poets in Europe and Asia. These poets regularly feature her work and interview her for their blogs. Further, she records her poetry aloud online through literary organization sites. And, her poetry is featured on electronic billboards at public and university libraries.
Digregorio organizes writers’ festivals, working with municipal leaders and foreign consulates. Winner of 46 national and international poetry awards in 12 forms, and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she has hosted/produced her own radio poetry program on public broadcasting. She serves on the national boards of literary organizations, and judges national writing contests in non-fiction and poetry for adults and students.
Digregorio has been a speaker at “Career Day” and at alumni banquets at The University of Chicago, among regular speaking engagements. She is a writer-in-residence at colleges and universities.