Welcome to WNIJ's Poetically Yours. This segment showcases poems written by northern Illinois poets. This week features Aurora Poet Laureate Karen Fullett-Christensen.
Fullett-Christensen has been writing poetry and memory stories since high school, and credits two of her English teachers, Mr. Vespo and Mr. Brown, for their encouragement and support. She has self-published over 20 manuscripts. Her poems and creative non-fiction have appeared in a variety of print and online publications, and are available at no cost to anyone who requests copies.
She was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago, in the Albany Park and Budlong Woods neighborhoods. She is a 1968 graduate of Mather High School and a 1972 graduate of Northern Illinois University. She briefly attended graduate school at Governors State University. She has resided in several of Chicago’s south and west suburbs and in Missoula, Montana.
Fullett-Christensen has held a variety of jobs. Some include secretary, teacher, real estate agent and urban planner. She retired in 2012 after 13 years as the City of Aurora's downtown development director and manager of the neighborhood redevelopment division. She was recognized as the Kane County Planner of the Year. In 1996, she received an Earth Champion award from The Missoulian newspaper and three years later was presented with an Individual Award of Excellence from the Will/South Cook Soil & Water Conservation District. Fullett-Christensen was inducted into the Ely Chapter of Lambda Alpha International, an honorary land economics society, in 2001.
Fullett-Christensen is an active community volunteer and a member of Books and Bread, the Aurora Jewish Renewal Congregation, InterFaith Aurora and Aurora Downtown. She also co-founded a local writers’ group in 2013 called A-Town Poetics.
Fullett-Christensen and her husband Larry are avid travelers and enjoy classes and adventures with Waubonsee Community College’s Lifelong Learning Institute and Road Scholar.
Music is of great importance to Fullett-Christensen. She is a board member of the Fox Valley Music Foundation and has sung with the Fox Valley Festival Chorus for over ten years.
A proud mother and grandmother, Fullett-Christensen’s eldest daughter lives in Sheffield, England. Her younger daughter and granddaughter live in Evergreen Park, Illinois.
Fullett-Christensen was named as the City of Aurora’s first poet laureate in January of this year. The pandemic has delayed her planned poet laureate events but she continues to interact with the community through Facebook. Here she shares poetry from many area poets, as well as her own. Those interested in sharing their works can email her.
Today she honors Women's History Month with her poem "For Our Daughters."
We’ve told you the stories of our struggles
not to arm you for battle
but to hope that finally all battles cease
to hope for days of appreciation
for the recognition of each one’s place
in the pattern of things
there is no honor in defamation
no pride in pushing another down
the celebration comes to those
who see the value
who know that women can teach one another
and the world
that all human hearts are worthy givers
that all human hands can hold us tighter
that all human voices can join in praise
that women’s strength
can nurture the dreams
of all who are born.
- Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.