A Lifeline: Reading and Writing

Whether we are religious or not, our spirituality is often rooted in the writing we do. We observe things around us and in nature, and we write about them. We write from the heart, and in doing so, we enter the space of others.

Through our writing, we face our challenges and losses. Initially, in writing about them, it’s as if they slap us across the face. But later, we find that this has been a healing exercise.

During the pandemic, we have learned that there is much to be grateful for. We look for a happy moment or two each day, and we can usually find one.

As creative writers, we value telling our stories through poetry or other genres. Each one of us is unique in telling our story. Our writing is often empathetic. We provide hope for the future and share with readers to face the uncertainties that preoccupy them. We allow them a diversion, or even to experience fun through our writing on a serious theme.

While we shelter at home, we are making more use of writing and reading books, returning to a simpler way of entertaining and enriching ourselves. We need the arts now, to feel the beauty of the human spirit through creative expression.

I miss traveling, and although it’s a cliche, I can often travel anywhere through a book.

Of course, writing and reading is escapism, as we get lost in the activity that requires our full mental attention. We need distractions from pandemic news of the growing number of people infected. Although we don’t visit friends, thankfully, through technology, we can visit them and other friends made on social media, so that we don’t lose total human contact.

Today, through a Zoom program with writers, I am reading a poem that I recently won an award for. It is about one of my favorite artists. And like the poem’s title, we should all capture the moment.


Capturing the Moment   (In Memory of Vivian Maier)


by Charlotte Digregorio


Tall, plain with cropped hair,

in and out of eyeshot, she cradles

a box camera, savoring

Chicago’s street theatre.


On a gritty sidewalk, sitting alone,

worn laborer with dusty hands

eats a sandwich from its torn wrapper.



A carefree boy rolls a car tire

without a wobble.


Plump woman, hair in curlers, walks

with poise among passing strangers.


Smug and nifty, another woman,

azure eyes, color of her necklace,

flaunts her orange hat, matching coat.


A man buries his face in his knees

with his arm over his cap,

cocooned from hunger

and perhaps, shame.


Ready for a fun outing,

six kids laugh, crammed into

a station wagon with Grandma.


On the bus, old husband and wife

in their orbit, doze to the wheels’ hum,

her head on his shoulder,

face hidden under his wide brim hat.



With a cast of the 1950s and 60s,

the artist tells strangers’ stories,

dawn until dusk, through her keen lens,

when not sustaining herself as a hurried nanny.


She captures ordinary ironies

idling by, lost to others in their daily blur.


Copyright 2020 by Charlotte Digregorio.


About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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10 Responses to A Lifeline: Reading and Writing

  1. Donna M. Bauerly says:

    Thanks for you great thoughts about writing. I did read this page more than once and saved it.

    Many times, my 3 liners are just descriptions and not true haiku.

    Such as yesterday:

    attitude I cawed back at crows

    Have you tried this 1-2-3 form yet? It can get addictive.

    Yesterday, your longer poem scared me–must bring RIPPLES down with me to this basement computer so I can give you a title and page.

    I will remember you, Charlotte, with gratitude on Thanks-Giving Day.

    Much love and care, Donna and Lacy


    • Thank you, Donna, for being such a loyal reader and participant. We enjoy your haiku! Grateful thanks to you. And, I hope that many will read your book, “Raymond Roseliep: Man of Art Who Loves the Rose.” It will give haikuists a real education on the development of haiku in the U.S.– a classic biography, and so reader-friendly!

  2. I admire the work your narrative poem, “Capturing the Moment (In Memory of Vivian Maier)” accomplishes as nimbly, plain, and straightforward as the Maier photographs themseves. Thank you.
    Take best care,
    Donna Fleischer

  3. Paul Beech says:

    Dear Charlotte,

    I see a strong parallel here. The way that we, as writers, observe and reflect on life, that others might find something meaningful to themselves. And the way that Chicago street-photographer Vivian Maier captured scenes from the life going on around her, giving ordinary folk something of themselves to ponder.

    Your poem ‘Capturing the Moment’ deftly portrays the free-spirited nanny with her Box Brownie, and brilliantly conveys the flavour of her work.

    Hats off to you!

    My very best,


  4. Maureen Weldon says:

    A lifeline : Reading and writing & Zoom. At first I thought ‘O No!’ But now I have participated in many Zoom poetry readings, workshops etc. Yes indeed, reading and writing has been and is the lifeline of 2020’s pandemic.
    I love “Capturing the Moment (In memory of Vivian Maier)” Through her box camera, she savours 1950’s / 60’s Chicago’s society. Its street theatre.
    It is such a good poem, yes I love it. Thank you.

  5. crmeester says:

    Thank you for sharing this marvelous poem, Charlotte!

    Sent from my iPhone


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