When I was born in June of 1943, 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.
Schooling in Earlville, Illinois (my home town) was interesting, useful, and generally free of creativity (do what the teacher says, get the good grade). 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, Lyn Sims, is a portrait and wedding photographer whose work may be seen at www.lynsims.com
Linda and I moved from the Chicago suburbs to Tucson in 2003 in order to be closer to our descendants. We like Tucson except for the aggressive drivers and the aggressive summer temperatures. Keeping cool tends to minimize both of these problems.
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: