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IA Literati to spotlight local writers

IA Literati 2017 — Casa Italia’s 13th annual celebration of local Italian-American authors — will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 17 in the Florentine Room of the Italian Cultural Center in Stone Park.

Book sales and signings, raffles, and a meet-and-greet with the authors will take place at 9:30 a.m., and authors will read from their works starting at 10 a.m.

Several new authors such as Olivia Kate Cerrone, C.J. Martello, Christian Picciolini and Adam Seda will take part in the event along with veteran literati Bruno Cortis, Maria Di Marco, Mary E. Matury Gibson, Kathryn Occhipinti, Peter Pero, Terry Quilico and John Reda.

Picciolini has written a remarkable book about his journey as the teenage son of Italian immigrants to Chicago. He fell into the world of skinheads while his parents were preoccupied with establishing themselves in Chicago, and he currently runs the nonprofit peace advocacy organization, “Life After Hate.”

Our event is a great place for readers to immerse themselves in the work of local Italian-American writers, and a great place for Italian-American writers to network and find out what their fellow authors are doing,” says Italian Cultural Center librarian and event founder Dominic Candeloro. “We proudly support Italian American authors and we encourage the rest of the community to do the same.”

The Italian Cultural Center is located at 1621 N. 39th Avenue, Stone Park.

There is no fee for this event but reservations and free-will donations are encouraged. (708-345-5933, www.casaitaliachicago.org)

The following authors and books will be showcased:


Olivia Kate Cerrone

The Hunger Saint (Bordighera Press 2017) is a historical novella about a young boy’s survival from the sulfur mines of rural Sicily. Set in post WWII-era Italy, this book reflects upon the religious, cultural, social and economic factors that helped normalize the practice of child labor abuse in Italy. The carusi, the child-aged sulfur miners of Sicily, were documented as working as young as six years old. The Hunger Saint draws from years of historical research, along with the oral histories of former miners living in Sicily today.

Olivia Kate Cerrone’s Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction won the Crab Orchard Review’s 2016 Jack Dyer Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Rumpus, The Paterson Literary Review, and New South. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, the VCCA, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, where she was awarded a “Distinguished Fellowship” from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Hunger Saint, a historical novella about the child miners of rural Sicily, was published by Bordighera Press in 2017.


Bruno Cortis

Bruno Cortis, author, professor, health and wellness speaker and well respected cardiologist with over 30 years experience in the Chicago area inspires his patients with many literary accomplishments such as “The Healing Heart: the Spiritual Heart and the Bible.” He is also the author of “Heart and Soul — a Psychological and Spiritual Guide to Preventing and Healing Heart Disease.”


Maria Scagliotta DiMarco

Maria Scagliotta DiMarco was born in Italy and lives in the United States. She is a teacher of the Italian Language, a translator, a writer, an interpreter. Her credentials include a degree in Education and teaching experience from Italy; a degree in Social Work, and minors in Education, Psychology and Spanish, from higher education institutes in the Chicago area. Her work experiences include: Director of infant development programs; Social Worker in geriatrics, and Investigator of the Elder Abuse and Neglect Program for the State of Illinois; Instructor of Italian at Triton College, River Grove Il; Teacher of religious education; Teacher of private students of Italian at various libraries; Founder and director of “I Ciceroni,” a monthly meeting of Italian language and culture. She translates works to and from English and is presently translating her own book, “Don’t Kick Every Stone,” into Italian. She is an avid reader and in her free time she writes short stories and takes long walks. The English edition of her book is available at amazon.com.


Mary E. Matury Gibson

Mary E. Matury Gibson was born to immigrant parents who came from Sicily in the 1920’s. She is the youngest of six children raised on a small farm in Lowell, Indiana. Life was hard for Mary and her siblings as they tried to fit into a community where first-generation Americans were not well received.

After being accepted into a Licensed Practical Nursing Program offered by Chicago Public Schools, Mary left Lowell in 1965. She married her high school sweetheart in 1970; however the marriage failed after four years. She raised her two daughters alone while working as a Licensed Practical Nurse in critical care at a hospital in Chicago’s south suburbs. She continued her education at Moraine Valley Community College. She received an Associate in Nursing Degree with honors and became a Licensed Registered Nurse.

Mary furthered her education at Purdue University Calumet while working the night shift in the emergency room. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Industrial Environment Psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree with Nurse Practitioner Competency. She became a Licensed Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. She worked as a Nurse Practitioner for thirty years, a total of fifty years in the health care field, while sending her two daughters to private schools and universities. During this time, Mary served in the United States Army Nurse Corps Reserves from 1982-1992 and achieved the rank of Captain.

In 2020, Mary retired from full time work by continues to see patients a few days a week in a private office-based practice. She spends her retirement years with her children and five grandchildren, the joy of her life. She has written and published her memoirs, Remembering Strawberry Fields, A Memoir published in 2014 and Entrusted with Their Care: A Nurse’s Story published in 2016. A third memoir, Against the Wind, is scheduled for release in 2018.


CJ Martello

CJ Martello is a correspondent authoring the column Petals from Roseland for Fra Noi. An author and a resident of Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood, he is an actor, presenting the one-man show, George Pullman The man and his model town for community organizations, senior groups, and schools.

CJ is also a historian covering the Pullman/Roseland/Kensington areas; a docent of the Pullman neighborhood and Pullman factory site; and a former docent of the Prairie Avenue Historic District’s Glessner House and Clarke House Museums.


Kathryn Occhipinti

Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years. She focuses on methods to make learning Italian as a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience.

Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the “Conversational Italian for Travelers” series of books, which follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time introducing the fundamentals of the Italian language.

The Conversational books are friendly, humorous, and combine travel tips with language lessons. These books also provide a method for people to understand and remember Italian phrases so that they can create their own.

The associated website, http://www.learntravelitalian.com/, provides free interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive.

Click here for a link to her conversational Italian books.
Click here for her audio book series.
Click here for Beginning Italian and Italian Proverbs
Click here for Advanced Italian lessons, Cultural Notes, Recipes
Click here for Facebook: Stella Lucente Italian
Click here for Facebook Open Group: Conversational Italian!
Click here for Twitter: Stella Lucente Italian


Peter Pero

Peter Pero is a retired teacher, historian and prolific writer of the Italian American experience in Chicago. In his book, Soul Survivors (2015), he recounts the history of several single-gender Chicago Catholic high schools from 1920 to 1960 such as St. Patrick’s, Mother Guerin, Fenwick, Mt. Carmel, and Notre Dame. Previously published “Chicago Italians at Work” (2009) tells the story of Italian immigrants and their work in the New World.

At IA Literati 2017 Pero will present Italo-Labor Unions 2.0, The 2017 Model.


Christian Picciolini

Christian Picciolini is an award-winning television producer, an author, and a reformed extremist. His work and life purpose are born of an ongoing and profound need to atone for a grisly past, and to make something of his time on this planet by contributing to the greater good.

After leaving the violent hate movement he was part of during his youth, he began the painstaking process of rebuilding his life. While working for IBM, Christian earned a degree from DePaul University and later began his own global entertainment media firm.

In 2016, Christian received an Emmy Award for his role as director and producer of an anti-hate campaign for ExitUSA that helped disengage several youth from white supremacist groups. He has worked as an adjunct professor at the college level, and as the community partnerships manager for Threadless.

Most notably, in 2010 he co-founded Life After Hate, a nonprofit dedicated to helping others gain the knowledge necessary to implement long-term solutions that counter all types of racism and violent extremism.

In 2015, Christian published his memoir, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, where he details his involvement in the early American white power skinhead movement.

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry on four continents in such diverse journals as Poetry Salzburg, Istanbul Literary Review, Shi Chao Poetry, Journal of Italian Translation, Acumen and Feile-Festa. Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese, Japanese and German. In addition to six Pushcart nominations, she has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council and The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, among others. Her seventh and most recent collection of poems is Edges (Purple Flag Press, Virtual Artists Collective, Chicago, 2016).


Terry Quilico

Terry Quilico is a second-generation American of Italian and Polish descent. He grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago, attended St. Patrick High School and has a B.A. in English literature from Lewis University. His first work as a journalist was as an intern at the Joliet Herald.

After graduation and upon leaving the Navy, he became involved in anti-war and labor activity and had articles and photographs published in movement newspapers and periodicals during the 1970s.

In 2002, he began work for the Comboni Missionaries and this began his long association with Paul Basile, the editor of Fra Noi, who published many articles relating to the Comboni Missionaries and their work.

In 2012, he left the Comboni’s and began working as a writer and editor for Fra Noi on Paul’s long-held dream of a book showcasing the local Italian patron saint societies. “Evviva La Festa: A Spiritual Journey from Italy to Chicago,” was a collaborative effort of 19 journalists, photographers and historians and is now available in e-book format.

He has spoken about the book at the Italian American Cultural Center in Crest Hill, and has also been on the Dan Cheely show on Relevant Radio reading excerpts from the book, and speaking of its creation and significance.


John Reda

John Reda was born June 8, 1932 in the city of Castrolibero, province of Cosenza in Calabria Italy. The following year John, his mother Alessandrina and his two older siblings, Amelia and Emilio boarded the ship-the Conte di’ Savoia in Naples and sailed to the United States to join their father, Domenico. They located in the Chicago area where they have remained to this day.

John’s book, “My Three Familes,” tells the story of an immigrant family trying to make a new life for themselves in a country new to them and a language they did not speak.

On June 12, 1954 John married Lorraine Kiesel and together they were blessed with three children, Linda, Catherine and John. Along the way John earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree from DePaul University. As their children grew they were blessed with five grandchildren, Erik, Sarah, Angela, Emma Rose and Noah.

John spent the major part of his working career working for the Motorola and Northrop Grumman corporations. There his work was involved in working on contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense providing electronic equipment for the US Army, Navy and Air forces.

From this journey were born the three families that give the book its title. The first was the family John was born into, the second the family begun when he and Lorraine married and the third, the family that formed as the children grew, married and started their own families. In time the three families really became one.


Adam Sedia

Adam J. Sedia (b. 1984) grew up in Schererville and currently lives in Griffith with his wife, Ivana, and their son. He received his undergraduate degrees in chemistry and English from Indiana University in 2006 and his law degree from DePaul University in 2009. He currently practices as a civil and appellate litigator at the firm of Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer & Polen in Dyer. He published two collections of poetry, The Spring’s Autumn (2013) and Inquietude (2016) (both available on amazon.com). His poems have also been published in Indiana Voice Journal and Tulip Tree Review. He has also published a short story in Liberty Island Magazine and law-related articles in various periodicals. He also composes music, which may be heard on his YouTube channel.

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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