Thursday, November 21, 2019

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 bill berry, jr.

Publisher and CEO, aaduna &
Member, Rockford Kingsley's Advisory Board
 
 
 
 
 

"For most of my professional career, I worked with artists… new, emerging and established.  During my graduate school days, I worked at The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts/National Center for Afro-American Artists, and that seeded the germ where I decided that I wanted to provide avenues and platforms for artists especially artists of color."   

 
     

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Web Site and Read

aaduna's Current Issue

 

aaduna announces six contributing writers as nominees for the prestigious
2012 Pushcart Prize:
 
  Poetry
 
Cyd Charisse Fulton
and
Tamara J. Madison
 
 
Fiction
 
Frank Gladden
Keith Laufenberg
and
Thomas Lee
 
 
Non-Fiction  
 
Michael Rhynes
 

 

  

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E-ViewPoints

 
I thought about myself…
 
William E. Berry, Jr. Chats With bill berry, jr.
 
 
For those who know him, bill berry, jr. tends to move silently around the glare of attention. However, he is always ready to promote aaduna (with the support and encouragement of his Board of Directors) and initiate career supporting platforms for aaduna’s contributing writers and artists. What most folks do not know is that aaduna,the online literary and visual images journal, is the first tier in a long range strategic plan of aaduna, Inc., where bill serves as CEO.
 
Sometime in 2012, bill will launch a county-wide if not regional writing competition for high school students in upstate New York. His intention is to transition that effort to a national and the global arena in a few years. And during that time, he plans to lay the groundwork to establish a retreat center for creative people where they can pursue their art in a tranquil, supportive, and nurturing environment. As usual, he will continue to create options for contributing writers and artists to enhance their presence as creative people. And, and, and….    
 
------------------------------ 
 
William: 
How are you and welcome to a “stage” that you know well.
 
bill:
I’m doing great and thank you for this opportunity to converse.
 
William:
Cool. Let’s jump right into it. Why are you doing aaduna?
 
bill:
For most of my professional career, I worked with artists…new, emerging and established. During my graduate school days, I worked at The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts/National Center for Afro-American Artists, and that seeded the germ where I decided that I wanted to provide avenues and platforms for artists especially artists of color. Being involved with the nascent Collective Black Artists further fueled that goal. Over the years at the various institutions that I worked at, I created platforms for artists to perform. aaduna enables me to take a diverse skill set and my personal involvement in the arts and build a community of creative people and bring that community to a global audience. 
 
William:
What did you do at Elma Lewis?
 
bill:
I worked in the Theatre Department; produced a children’s literary journal (boy, I forgot that initiative until now. Maybe that was the germ for aaduna!) acted in a play (a dual role I have you know), and did whatever the [department head] Vernon Blackman wanted me to do. I was exposed to a variety of artists: Bill Saxton, the late Justo Almierio, Olutungi, Bob Cunningham, Ntosake Shange, and others. Ms. Lewis believed that black artists needed to have a command of more than one discipline. So, the instructors and students had to be multi-dimensional in their approach to the performing arts. Unfortunately, I don’t think the school still exists but the spirit of Miss Lewis is still etched in her instructors, students and mentees.
 
William:
Did you do anything regarding reading and writing while in grad school?
 
bill:
While pursuing my MA at Boston University in Afro-American Studies, I started a reading workshop for high school students at the local library in Roxbury. Once and then twice a week, we met to discuss our reading of a work by a black writer. These meetings enabled the student participants to form camaraderie with other students; express their political beliefs, and comment on the work they were reading. It lasted a year. I finished my graduate program and came back to New York.
 
William:
You then had an interesting career in higher education. What was that like and did the artist influence follow you into the academy? 
 
bill:
I remember my doctoral advisor telling me that the “ivory tower” was no different than the real world. I was getting ready to go to an institution as an assistant dean, the first black and the youngest person to hold that level of deanship. (I had mapped my career to be the youngest black to receive a PhD. As a president of one institution I worked for remarked, I was an activist educator more than an academic. The PhD was never completed.) From that appointment to my last, I sought to create avenues to bring inspiring and fierce artists to the campus I was at. 
 
John Riddle, Jr., Spider Woman Theatre, LeRoy Clarke, Bill Saxton, Nikki Giovanni, Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) Kwame Toure (aka Stokely Carmichael), Jamaica Kincaid and several other artists were able to present their creativity to college students. And when I was at Malcolm-King College, I arranged for students to see great theatrical artists…the plays by August Wilson: James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in “Fences”, Roscoe Lee Brown and Larry [now Laurence] Fishburne in “Two Trains Running”, Keith David and Ruben Santiago-Hudson in “Seven Guitars”, Rocky Carroll, Ernie Scott and S. Epatha Merkerson in “The Piano Lesson”, all directed by Lloyd Richards. Add to that      Morgan Freeman in “Gospel at Colonnus”, Charles S. Dutton in the one-man show, “Splendid Mummer, by Lonne Elder, III and directed by Woodie King, Jr., and Malcolm Jamal Warner in “Three ways Home” cemented by desire tio continue to provide audiences to artists and platforms for artists to engage an audience. 
 
Working in the academy was a consistent challenge since what I wanted to achieve a more diverse campus environment at the student, faculty, and administrators’ levels dictated changes in recruitment, retention, and promotion. Like most established institutions, change did not come easily. However, the “ride” was memorable and the administrative skill sets I developed were critical to aaduna’s development. 
 
William:
How did your travels around the world affect you?
 
bill:
Interestingly, you develop a greater appreciation for people regardless of cultural background or ethnicity once you start to see the world. Once I decided to travel, I did not want to spend vacations in the Caribbean or be a prisoner to a time share.  I needed to see the world…to experience what a city, village, region was like for the local people. So I ventured off and on multiple trips I visited Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The affect empowered me to better understand the complexities of the human spirit and what people are capable of doing to survive and find some elementary level of peace for themselves or family. The travels made me think globally before that became a paradigm and a passé reference, which lacks meaning for most people…belonging or being part of a global village. When I started aaduna, I wanted it to reflect the creativity of a global village and not limit itself to a singular expression rooted in a specific culture or driven by an ethnicity based ideology. While I understand and remain sensitive to singularity, the world does not operate in isolation…nations exist in some level of global community. That is the stance aaduna has been built on…belonging to a community larger than itself.
 
William:
So, I know at one time you were writing. Have you abandoned that side of you?
 
bill:
No. But I did allow myself to be setback by someone where I questioned my skills and ability. In time, I realized that a person whether that individual is a family member, friend, or co-worker, who tries to put obstacles in your way or cause you to doubt yourself is a small person influenced by jealousy and a negative self-image. I guess today, folks like that are called “haters”. I want to write. I continue to jot down short story ideas; however, I realized when I started aaduna, that a certain amount of time had to be spent getting that idea into a viable, ongoing reality. As we approach the first anniversary in February of next year, I see that light at the end of the tunnel. And for me, that means ample free time to write, and edit, write and re-edit….
 
William:
Why do you enjoy working with aspiring writers and artists?
 
bill:
Nurturing creative people is a core objective for aaduna…to identify them and provide a safe haven where they are willing to express themselves in the public arena. Non-published writers typically have a reticence about putting their work into a submission review process or even imagining that the work is good enough to be published. We try to break the artificiality of that barrier down by nurturing artists and giving them positive encouragement that is akin to the level of ability that they bring initially. In truth, some folks need more re-work time than others. Some can grasp what they were trying to say when you point out that the words on a paper do not say what was in their head. Each person is different. But, I am convinced that each person has a creative side that once  unleashed has the potential to enlighten and empower someone, somewhere. The global nature of aaduna seeks to find the reader(s) who can connect to what contributing writers are saying, or be moved by the subtle power of a visual image.
 
William:
So, what can we expect from aaduna in the coming year?
 
bill:
2012, the new year will bring different methods of presenting the journal’s content. We plan to present a spoken word video performance by one of our contributing poets in the first anniversary issue (scheduled for launch on February 28.) If this approach works the way I see it in my brain, we will then actively seek video where spoken word artists present their poetry so our readers can have an auditory and visual experience versus just reading the words. There are artists experimenting with electronic composition and how that is translated to visual imagery and then combined to have a very visual artwork with original music. I want to explore that some more. We have presented scripts and excerpts of theatrical production. I want to continue to explore how we present compelling writing and visual images that make a connection to our readers and our readers feel a connection to the creative person. And I want to make aaduna more accessible to the social media that drives society so regardless of the technology that you primarily use, aaduna will be within your grasp or I should say a click away. 
 
William:
It sounds good.
 
bill:
It is good.
 
William:
Any last words or wisdom for Rockford Kingsley’s readership?
 
bill:
You make it sound like I won’t be back…”last words?” But in all seriousness, I wish everyone a safe, festive, and empowering new year that provides unexpected surprises that can fuel each person’s creative spirit. And as far as wisdom, I think we all need to remember our dreams are ours.  And those dreams are achieved, when each of us is ready to manifest our innate desire to be more than what we have become. Everyone needs to maintain her/his integrity especially when you feel it has worn out its welcome or you think you can get ahead by cutting corners and taking advantage of other folk. Achievements through deceit are shallow and brittle. And there is a fantastic feeling when you achieve a dream as a result of hard work and perseverance. Everyone should get ready and resolve to really work hard at achieving at least one personal dream in 2012….dream and achieve, that’s it…my wisdom for everyone…dream and achieve.    

William:
Thank you, bill.
 
bill:
William…I thank you. Stay creative.       
 
Please Note:
 
E-ViewPoints will be on a brief hiatus and return in February 2012. The aaduna community of writers, artists, advisors, and readers wish the entire Rockford Kingsley community a blessed and relaxed Holiday Season and Joyous New Year.   

 

  

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