An Everywhere Oasis: Bio of Alan Harris and Web Site Portfolio



Alan Harris - Bio and Web Site Portfolio

Alan Harris-5/2011 Alan Harris (Photo: Sophia Lyn Sims)

When I was born during World War II, my father (his scrapbook), Keith E. Harris, was piloting a B-17 in bombing missions over Europe while my mother (Margie) worried about him lovingly from Illinois. But soon there were toys and relatives, and I grew into playing with both. See my poem War Baby for a child's-eye view.

The schools in Earlville, Illinois (my home town) were staffed with dedicated teachers, and the course work was interesting and useful. From 5th through 12th grades I played the trumpet in the school band and enjoyed the contest trips. Dad drove a school bus as part of his living (farming was the other part), and if I happened to ride on his bus, I had to very much behave. (But see Lessons Out of School for some unsupervised adventures.)

Illinois State University was where I became chagrined over how a student with a full class load could possibly keep up with all of the assignments given in said classes. I was a pawn in a game, though with judicious time-shuffling and corner-cutting I plowed along and made respectable grades amidst all the worries.

A bright spot at ISU was taking a contemporary American poetry class with Dr. Ferman Bishop. With him I discovered depths in poetry that I had never dreamed of while in high school. E. E. Cummings took me for zingy flights of in-your-faceness. T. S. Eliot, whose symbols even had symbols, fully baffled me. Robert Frost was slyly charming. Emily Dickinson's mastery of rhyme and meter for conveying soul and spirit made my heart go funny. I started "being a poet" in my sophomore year (1962) at ISU. Poetry had been previously unneeded in my life but now was available to contain parts of my soul that I hadn't realized were there.

After graduating from ISU in 1966 there was the little matter of having to earn a living, which took the form of two years of high school English teaching, three years of tuning and repairing pianos, and (after a 1976 MS in Computer Science at Northern Illinois University) about 25 years of computer work (mainly programming, in-house computer teaching, and Web development for Commonwealth Edison Company in Chicago).

During most of that vocational stint before retirement, I continued to write poems. Even with the whirl of commuting it was still possible to emote at home. I launched my current Web site in 1995 with a few poems, and eventually populated it with almost everything I've written. As a poet, essayist, story-writer, and photographer I have said no to the print publication route, having seen the excruciations gone through by other writers trying to make a big name and big money for themselves via magazine and book publishers. With the Web, there's instant publication, moneyless communication, and a worldwide potential audience. Of course, the literature has to stand on its own feet to get readers, but it's always there for those who seek it, just happen in, or get sent in.

My wife Linda and I met at ISU in 1962 and were married in 1966. Linda has worked as a school speech therapist, insurance medical office worker, and medical transcriptionist, in addition to being a conscientious wife, mother, and grandmother. We were blessed with a son, Brian, in 1968. After beginning to hit things rhythmically at age 3, and 18 years later graduating from the University of Arizona, he has turned out to be a career percussionist. He was a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for twelve years and continues teaching mostly school-age students in his home percussion studio in Tucson. His son Patrick, now serving in the U.S. Air Force, was also one of his student percussionists. Brian recorded and "orchestrated" one of my poems, Bunga Rucka, in 1998. He hangs his vocational shingle at www.brianjharris.com. Brian's wife, Sophia Lyn Sims, is a portrait and wedding photographer whose work may be seen at www.sophialynsims.com

For spiritual nourishment we're both members of the Order of the Cross and the Theosophical Society. Over the years I have greatly admired the philosophical teachings of Manly P. Hall, 1901-1990 (see his journal article catalog, a list of his book titles with topics of each, or his Philosophical Research Society site).

But the above is mostly external history. The inner raptures and ruptures can be seen within the poems, stories, essays, and photographs published in this site. Enjoy your visit.


Listed below are a few first-person narratives found within this site:


Web Sites Designed

Pictured below are home pages of most of the Web sites I've designed since 1998, any of which can be visited with a click. I'm open for new business--just write me an e-mail.

Alan Harris


Christine Vivona, Harpist
Dr. Christine Vivona received a Master of Music from the prestigious Juilliard School and a Doctorate in Harp Performance from the University of Arizona. She is a versatile recording artist who is comfortable in classical, jazz and popular settings for concerts, conventions, parties, and weddings. (Site completed in 2010)

Rob Boone: Trombonist, Pianist
Rob Boone is a well-known musician in Tucson, Arizona as well as other cities. He is a skilled trombonist and jazz pianist, and also arranges music and offers desktop publishing services. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he has his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Arizona in composition, jazz studies, and trombone performance. (Site completed in 2007)


Brian J. Harris Method
Brian J. Harris, a private percussion instructor in Tucson, Arizona, has developed a new method for beginning students which he has captured in his book The Snare Drum Plays the Zoo. In his Web site he discusses his novel teaching techniques and offers his method book for sale. (Site completed in 2003)


Jared Smith, Poet
Jared Smith is a prominent figure in contemporary poetry, technology research, and professional continuing education. He has six critically acclaimed volumes of poetry to date, plus hundreds of publications in literary journals across the nation over the past 30 years. Sample poems and an essay are included in his site. (Site completed in 2007)


Manly P. Hall: Books and Articles
Manly P. Hall (1901-1990) was a prolific philosopher and speaker who wrote over 200 books and delivered over 8,000 lectures during his lifetime. In 1928 he published The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a large illustrated book explaining ancient lore and symbols. This site lists all of his journal articles and book titles, with topics. (Site completed in 2012)

Illinois State Poetry Society
The Illinois State Poetry Society was chartered in 1991 to encourage the crafting and enjoyment of poetry in Illinois, and it is actively working at its mandate. Every two months, beginning in June, 2000, poems written by ISPS members are posted in this site. Anyone (not only Illinois residents) may join ISPS. (Site completed in 2000)

Pathways to Promise
Pathways to Promise provides extensive information for pastors and congregations about mental illness situations, including emergency procedures, a guide to family dynamics, and resource listings with Web links and telephone numbers. (Site completed in 1999)

Mental Illness Network
Within the United Church of Christ the Mental Illness Network began in 1992 as a response to the need for communication among families and others about mental illness issues and to encourage congregational support to families so afflicted. (Site completed in 1999)
The Heron's Nest - Poems by Carole Z. Spinelli
The Heron's Nest - Carole Z. Spinelli
Carole Z. Spinelli has published her first book of poetry, The Gift Forthcoming, and in this Web site, The Heron's Nest, she offers several sample poems with commentary on how her poems came to be written, plus an order form for you to purchase her book. Carole is a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society. (Site completed in 2000)

An Everywhere Oasis
"An Everywhere Oasis" by Alan Harris is a literary site intended to refresh. After its launch in 1995 as "Collected Poems", this site has since grown to contain short stories, essays, more poems, aphorisms, humor, audio recordings, and photography. Two sections within it, Heartplace and Garden of Grasses, feature writing by others.