Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Bio Sketch Alan Ball
Alan Ball is not the celebrated screenwriter, that’s someone else. Not the world cup soccer player either, that’s another one. Alan’s been writing since he was a kid, as he has told one of his favorite students, he started a novel one Saturday when he was about 11, wrote a page and never finished it (yet). He started a notebook which was a take-off on some of the funny stuff around at the time, and in junior high was writing this and that about politics which was pointless since he didn’t know what he was talking about. He started writing free verse at 16 and around 20 also got back to fiction.
His first 2 published poems (1969) were accepted by the East Harlem Writing Center for their Uptown Beat.
Not enrolled there as a student, he and a friend who was and the friend’s writing roommates organized and began creative writing sessions at Bensalem College of Fordham University on Sunday evenings. This soon resulted in their editing and publishing the journal Grub Street. After 4 issues the group dispersed, but Alan and new associates published a 5th through 10th issue during the mid to late 70’s.
Alan married New York City native Patricia Russell in 1974 and completed a degree in creative writing at Empire State College of the State University of New York in 1978 (it involved writing the degree program). Soon thereafter he and Pat relocated to Somerville, Massachusetts. He took a day job and eventually he and Pat started a family. Raising two children brought with its joy the motivation and opportunity to collaborate with kids in writing. Gratitude for the education daughter Emily and son James received in the Somerville public schools led to his working with school kids and receipt of compounding returns from that work. “The reward of hard work is more hard work,” he tells his students.
He has worked for over 25 years as a medical journalist primarily in the role of managing editor of the peer-review academic journals Lasers in Surgery and Medicine and Ophthalmic Surgery, Lasers & Imaging.
Having worked several years with 3rd and 4th graders in writing and poetry as a classroom volunteer, in 2003 Alan organized an afterschool creative writing group at the A.D. Healey School, a K-8 Somerville public school, and with the students in that group and with the support of other students throughout the school, he advised their establishment of a student newspaper that has been a laboratory for writing development utilizing correspondingly developing publishing projects. The magazines that this newspaper has spawned, although small in print circulation, nevertheless are of a national and international reach. Submission is web-based and editorial evaluation is done via email, and all writers under 20 from any part of the world are invited.
To date the discovery of effective and practical publishing methods that address the challenges and employ opportunities afforded by electronic media has resulted from this collaboration. It has successfully derived ways to identify, develop and distribute literature for free while enhancing its intrinsic value, and to maintain a major print component, for the artistic and practical worth of the old medium.
Happeningnow!everywhere (aka Happening Publications) is a loosely organized collective of young writers coordinated and advised by adult mentors to publish multimedia, non-commercial periodicals that serve as teaching tools and quality offerings for young readers.
Guided largely by the interests and direction of the students working with them we now have 3 magazines, all written by young people-- by kids and young adult students-- and advised by peer editors. Happeningnow!everywhere is for writers under 20 and a reading audience age 12 through adult, 12! is for 10agers through young teens and Snowflake! is for age 10 and under. They all are general interest magazines that include informative articles, reviews, personal essays, opinion, fiction, humor and poetry. Art and popular culture are major focuses. All three are published in print and online. The project is informed by our contributing writers and responsive to their needs and points of view. These publications are selective and edited. The editors are recruited from among the contributing writers. The selections are made on the basis of reader interest, originality and quality of craft. The young writers and editors participate in the critical evaluation of innovative approaches and experimentation in seeking solutions to real-life challenges that are faced by writers and publishers.
Recent developments at Happening Publications include print collections of poetry sold for special purpose fundraising (Poetry for Haiti, Poetry for the Species and Poetry for the Healey School & fiction stories). New to the online component of Happeningnow!everywhere is a “self-print” poetry feature where visitors to the website may select and print poems for inclusion in their own loose-leaf collections. Also in view is a magazine for kids containing contributions by kids, young adults and older mentors writing for kids, and direct collaborations between kids and grownup writers.
Submissions for all the magazines are welcome via email or the websites www.happeningnoweverywhere.com and http://12zine.com .