Monday, August 29, 2016
Monday, June 6, 2016
Literary Citizen, William E. Berry, Jr., is the CEO and publisher at aaduna, inc. a literary journal that showcases poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual media from writers and artists worldwide.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit with us as we chat with Bill....
Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit with us as we chat with Bill....
Words on the Verge: You have put your heart and soul into aaduna. Tell uswhy you founded the journal and about the goal/vision of aaduna.
Bill: My foray into online publishing was with a journal that initially was to be the online component of a printed journal. As things often happen with divergent viewpoints, the printed journal eventually decided to forgo an online version. With my encouragement and backing, the lead on the online initiative decided to continue with the venture. I then structured, organized and established the corporate platform for the journal; identified the journal’s name; developed the mission statement, submission protocols, and served as a founding co-editor. As this racially specific entity started to purposely drift from its original intent of providing access for new and emerging writers, my spirit for the project waned and I subsequently left the operation.
As I reflected on that experience, my professional background, and prior work and collaboration with creative people in all areas of the Arts, I concluded that if I wanted a journal to represent a certain “proscriptive” vision and challenge the status quo, I should start one.
aaduna was born.
Repeating the same structural format that I had previously accomplished, I added the strategic task of applying for IRS tax exempt status, and captured that designation prior to the first issue in February 2011.
The goal and vision of aaduna remains simple in its complexity as we enter our sixth year of publishing. aaduna provides a publication platform for creative people who have been traditionally denied access to such opportunities, especially people of color; embraces established folks who are interested in venturing towards new avenues of expression or who find our Mission and philosophies consistent with their own; supports the overall development of writers and visual artists by providing access to audiences, retreat opportunities, readings and exhibitions, as well as other avenues to publication and experiences that provide appropriate compensation. Furthermore, aaduna seeks to build a supportive relationship with people at the submissions stage based on mutual respect, transparency and communication, and expand strategies to identify and publish a diverse, multicultural array of creative people from around the globe. At aaduna, we see these objectives as interlocking pathways.
From my perspective, words and images empower each other so aaduna was developed to be a literary and visual arts journal. Maybe we were a tad over ambitious by establishing three galleries instead of one but the world is huge! With that approach, we can “mine” other creative interests of contributors, several who are writers and artists. aaduna is uniquely positioned to provide the platform for those folks to share their complementary and other creative interests with our worldwide readership.
|aaduna si dofa rey:|
“The world is huge.”
Words on the Verge: You have been a mentor to me (host Christine Green) and to several other up and coming writers. We'll forever be grateful! Instead of helping us you simply could have passed over our submissions and accepted the work of a more established writers. Why is it important to you help the new writers?
Bill: I now have to go back to when I was a graduate student and doing an internship at The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts/National Center of Afro-American Artists in Roxbury, Boston where I also lived. Ms. Lewis who became a MacArthur Fellow, taught her students at the school to be total artists. You did not just study dance or writing or theater. Each student took classes in all performing and visual art disciplines because Ms. Lewis knew that to be competitive, get a foot in the door and gain work, Black students needed to be versed in everything. The school also had a spirit of nurturing and cooperative assistance. Established artists/instructors, regardless of discipline, encouraged and reached out to beginning students or advanced students looking for a break. There was a communal spirit.
During this same time period, I was part of a small cadre of musicians and poets who started the Boston branch of Collective Black Artists, a national organization founded by jazz pianist Dr. Billy Taylor. In addition to developing artists, CBA sought to teach the business side of the arts, those business structures that mist artists did not know and because of that ignorance, were routinely taken advantage of via contracts, performance payments, royalties, etc.
Interestingly, those experiences shaped my career in higher education because regardless of what campus I was on, I found avenues to bring artists to campus and pay them…theater troupes, poets, writers, musicians, visual artists, dancers etc. My “dna” compelled me to always represent the best interests of creative folks, and be fair in how they were treated from adequate performance space to compensation. So, here is my final lesson.
During my first professional job after grad school, I arranged for a noted jazz vocalist to perform with her trio at a community-wide health fair with major hospitals and mobile diagnostic treatment vehicles, and a host of volunteer doctors, nurses etc. Noted for her aloofness and demanding attitude, she arrived on time with her trio. They started to rehearse. I was then told they would not perform. When I approached her, she told me in a curt manner that if I respected her art I would have had the piano tuned! That thought never entered my consciousness but it taught be a valuable lesson especially since she stayed at the fair until it concluded; signed autographs, and engaged playfully with the children and took the time to thank the volunteers.
So, flash forward; move past my thirty plus years of nurturing and working with a diverse array of creative folk in higher education, and aaduna is born.
From the onset and continuing to the present day, the journal has the specific intent to develop and grow an environment for creative people that is built on respect and a spirit of being diligent regarding their needs. I know what it is like for writers, poets and artists to face obstacles that are artificial, often demeaning, and unnecessary obstructions just because of race, culture or other societal dislikes.
So, what do all of these remembrances have to with aaduna?
It is my mission via what has become a widely-read global journal to maintain access to opportunities where there are few and often no “hidden” barriers especially for diverse and multicultural people; to provide pathways for artists to move their career in whatever direction they want, and to create, whenever possibly, avenues to reach an audience where there is financial support for the creative person.
Quietly, my hope is that those aaduna contributors that we have nurtured will pay it forward, and folks have done just that…Words on the Verge, publication companies, editor and college teaching appointments, and singular honors that provide writing retreats, performance honoraria, and world-wide travel for lectures and exhibitions.
Words on the Verge: What's your favorite book?
Bill: I am not sure I have a favorite book probably because I read all the time. In fact, decades ago, my younger brother told me that I even read matchbook covers (you remember those things? By the way, he made a true observation of my habit.) I still try to read a book a month and often will read two novels simultaneously.
Right now, I read a lot of fiction by NYT best-selling authors to better understand the craft and intent of fiction and how stories are edited especially since that is a genre of aaduna. In the fiction realm, I lean toward an author’ first book because often times, those books are gems to read. [the emerging writer thing with aaduna!] I remember having my youngest daughter read Junot Diaz’s first book and she was in the early years of high school. She marveled at the way he constructed his story and interspersed another language seamlessly throughout the story. I also have a penchant for the wide variety of fiction by people of color, probably with a bent towards female writers. Again, this effort is driven by the need to better understand the dynamics associated with submissions from around the world. Besides publishing the journal, I also serve as one of the fiction editors.)
Prior to aaduna, I primarily read non-fiction. I was a big fan of books that told the behind the scene shenanigans of major corporations especially take-overs and corporate raiders. Historical books also fascinated me. To this day, I continue to read excerpts from Hans J. Massaquoi’s 1999 book, Destined To Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, as well as the James McBride’sThe Color of Water for inspiration and stimulation to better focus on what is really important.
I remain grounded in the writings of Black folk especially writers from the turbulent and culture defining Sixties. Here were writers and poets who dared to re-define what “black” was all about and was bold enough to challenge the status quo. Davis, Cleaver, the Jacksons, Seale, Baraka (Leroi Jones) and others offered a re-awakening combined with fiction writers who made black characters central to plot lines and thematic approaches.
During this period, I delved into the writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance and was able to see the continuity between Black writers over time. I also developed my ongoing love of poetry at this time because Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Don L. Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti,) The Last Poets and others pushed open doors; broke barriers, and taught me that the pre-established constructs of poetic style could be broken and bent and re-configured to express the sentiments of Black folks. At the same time and moving on, I could not get enough of Toni Morrison, Grace Edward-Yearwood, Stephen L. Carter, E. Lynn Harris, Julie Dash…the list goes on and on. And I am forever grateful for discovering and reading all that was available of Anais Nin whose scope of understanding the full range of human existence is best expressed in her diaries though she is most noted for other interests.
Maybe I am like the Dustin Hoffman character in the 2007 film, “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”…I marvel and surround myself with the magic unexpected delight expressed in the written word and visual images that transport me other places in time and enables me to better define my own imagery.
I was introduced to Bill Berry by Christine Green after participating in her monthly literary reading event in
entitled “Words on the Verge”. Bill Berry and Aaduna magazine featured my poetry in their online magazine which greatly assisted me in gaining exposure for my writing. I was also invited to perform spoken word at their “In the spirit of Harlem Renaissance” at the Theater Mack in Brockport, NY Auburn. Bill Berry and Aaduna magazine are committed to supporting new talent and providing a platform where artists of various genres can display and hone their talents in a healthy, encouraging environment. My experience with Bill Berry and the Aaduna magazine has also led to my nomination for the 2016 PushCart prize for poetry. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bill Berry and greatly appreciate being invited to showcase my work in what quickly becomes a family like atmosphere. I further appreciate the continued love and support I receive for my writing pursuits by Lisa Brennan (Visual Arts Editor & Manager of Administration and Marketing for Aaduna Magazine) as well as Bill in the year that has followed my being featured in their outstanding publication. Keep up the great work Bill Berry and Aaduna Magazine and I hope to work with you more in the near future!
Monday, May 2, 2016
|Click HERE to read creative writing from Craig Raleigh.|
I Know You
When I stopped by for a visit, you were still there; living in that house in the woods where you’ve always been. I didn’t have to knock; I didn’t have to ring the bell. I just used my eyes to look into your windows. I can see the white specks of soft oxygen floating on your ever so slightly-stained back; the sun reflecting off the moving ripples of liquid karma. The twist of your spine drifts through the broken forest with an abject disregard. There is no beginning and no end; only the rigor of ebb and flow. I have questions that only you can answer; unanswered questions from my childhood. They rage in my heart and can no longer be ignored. I have no choice but to see you up close now, old friend. My feet are burning to ramble; my eyes itching with desire. Your banks are stripped bare by the frozen storms; pounded flat by the weight of winter.
You have an openness now like at no other time of the year. I crave to discover your secrets; I require an audience with your mystery guests. Come, let me know you again before the rains of April wash it all away; before the blossoms of May hide them forever. I want to know your every dragonfly; your every snail. Why did that tree fall across your lap? Why did you hurl yourself out at the bend? I want to take off my shoes and wade through your living room. I want to feel the weight of your walls against my legs. I love what you’ve done to the place. You seem to change it every year. I see you moved that boulder; some trees that were here in my youth are gone now, but the shadows of their children remain. And that driftwood? Nice touch.
You’ve always accommodated me; never unwilling to let me dip my seine net into your soul and dredge for the truth. You let me float on your back and throw stones into your home. I captured your crayfish and chased your minnows, but you never said no. My footprints wander through your shoreline, my hands through your waters. My thoughts drift on your currents and dream of accomplishment. The roots of the trees show, threadbare and lonely in the air; their tentacle arms grasping at the indisposed ground. You let the green grasses of spring settle on your banks and the residents of the woodlot quench their thirst.
My fingers are poised. I long to touch you and revel in your waters; no longer does the winter hold us apart. Warm breezes are coming to join us and blow away our fears. Sunny days will come and drench us in the sweet-sweet heat of summer. I’ll watch again as the rain softly pelts your face; I’ll smile again and watch it all sweep downstream. I’d live here if you’d let me. I’d build a house next to yours and be your neighbor. We’ll look out the window at each other and wave. Your reeds can be my lawn; your cattails my trees. I’ll plant a garden of willows, and we’ll watch them grow.
Remember when we floated toy boats together? They would pass down your ripples, and lie quietly in your backwaters. I would make a dam out of your rocks, and uselessly try to hold you back. You would laugh and wash it away, and I would try again.
I’ve known you since I was a boy. You’ve followed me wherever I’ve gone. Your still and ever changing waters have always been a part of me. Carry me away to tomorrow and drop me off in the yet to be. I long to see where you’re going; I yearn to be where you’ve been. Talk to me with your delicate gurgle; sing to me with your undemanding voice.
You’re a part of me that I cannot deny.
You swim in my soul.
I’ve been here before, and I know you.
Monday, April 11, 2016
The Day My Father Died
David B. Seaburn
November 11, 1998 dawned grey and cold. I had been staying with my brother and mother in Ellwood City, Pa. off and on for six weeks after my father had been diagnosed with acute leukemia. The doctor had given him no more than two months to live.
It had been a long twenty-two years since my father had had his heart attack, years littered with mounting health problems and surgeries, years of caregiving by my mother. My father was eighty years old now and proud of it. His brothers had all died before him, mostly of heart disease, one at the age of thirty-six. The day before he died was my parents’ fifty-sixth wedding anniversary, something that he was unaware of. We crossed our fingers that day, hoping he would live through it.
A few days before his death, my mother and I received a call in the middle of the night from my father’s nurse. She said he was restless and afraid and that we should come to the hospital. When we arrived, he didn’t seem afraid at all. In fact, he was smiling and more alert than he had been in many days. My mother and I stood on either side of the bed talking with him. He joked that a beer would taste good about now. He looked at my mother and asked her to kiss him, which she did. Then he told me to say a prayer, so the three of us held hands while I prayed.
That was his last lucid moment. He was unconscious most of the time after that.
I knew he was dying, but I did not recognize this as his goodbye. We had been making daily trips to the hospital for weeks and had fallen into the dying routine with its waiting, and watching, and remembering, and lunches at the hospital café, and stories, and laughter, and sadness, and silence. I realized later that I had assumed that my father would just go on dying, but never actually die.
On the morning of November 11, I took my dog, Abby, for a walk in the school yard near my parents’ house. We stopped and talked to a neighbor who asked how my father was doing. When I got back to the house, it was a few minutes after 9am. I was running a little late. My mother wasn’t quite ready to go with me to the hospital. My brother was on the road, his trucking job not allowing him time to be with us that morning. I told my mother that I would go to the hospital, see how things were, and then come back to pick her up.
When I got to hospital, I checked in with the nursing staff at the desk to see how my father’s night had been. Then I went to his room where he lay on his back, his mouth open, his breathing slowed. I spoke to him as I always did, reporting on the weather, talking a little about how the Pittsburgh Steelers were doing. I dabbed his lips and tongue with a tiny wet sponge. I cleaned his nose.
Then I sat on the Naugahyde lounger beside his bed and listened to him breathe. He exhaled and I counted the seconds that followed. One, two, three, four—by now I’m getting anxious---five, six, seven, finally another inhale. I felt a moment of relief. Then another breath and more counting, counting, counting. Then another and another. Around 9:20am----one…two…three…four… five… six… seven… eight… nine--- I stood up and looked at Dad. I listened and watched. I placed my hand on his chest. By then I knew he had died. I held his hand, his fingers still soft and warm, as pliable as a baby’s.
I had the strangest sensation (perhaps my last moment of denial) that my dad would wake up and tell me all about dying, what it was like, how it had gone, as if having triumphed over the last of life’s challenges, he could give me some wisdom about what to expect.
I was forty-eight when he died. I am sixty-four now. I carry his pocket knife with me every day. At one time I lost his knife for two years. Before finding it again, my brother bought me a knife exactly like it. Now I can carry two. I have his watch on the night stand beside my bed. When my wife and I watch our two little granddaughters (ages five and four), they love to play in our bedroom. The four-year old, Makayla, stands on the footstool beside my nightstand and puts my father’s watch on. She holds her arm up high and the watch slides the whole way down to her armpit. When she is done, she puts it back exactly where she found it.
When I was forty-eight, I hoped my father’s death would teach me about dying. At sixty-four, I think it has taught me mostly about living; that life is short but beautiful; that even though time is measured, there is enough, if you pay attention; and that everything that matters in life is here, now.
Visit David's website HERE.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Van Gogh’s Boots
by Kitty Jospe
|A Pair of Shoes, VanGogh |
Only a pair of boots,
a man’s only pair of boots.
Leather aches into a stiff lip,
chafes the space
barely close —
peasant boots —
artist’s boots —
One pulled up stark
watching the other
lip folded open
as if ready to speak.
A painting of boots,
one with a cow-thick tongue
hanging in the bleeding shadows
of a barn,
the other kicked off,
crumpled in fatigue.
The caked spring mud says
one man has been out
in the world, walking.
One flung to the bare floor,
empty of sinew and bone,
the other standing upright,
watching over its mate.
Monday, March 7, 2016