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  • bill-berry-publisher-fall-2016

    William E. Berry Jr., CEO, aaduna, Inc./Publisher, aaduna (Photo credit:  Lisa Brennan)

     

     


    I
    t started quite ordinarily with a submission to Keith Leonard, our late submissions manager:

     

    Please consider the following poems (included with this cover letter and short bio as per your submission guidelines): “This Little City,” “Thanks Larry,” and “Project Diamond,” for publication in the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of aaduna. I believe that the three poems depict relatable instances of masculine strength and urban struggle that coincide with the established voice of your review.

     

    I, also known under the pseudonym Persecution Avenue, am a classically educated multi- platform, multi- genre freelance writer; currently, penning academic, business, creative and technical endeavors, fulltime. Both professional and powerful, my writing is a living testimony to the effectiveness in combining an urban upbringing with international, pragmatic experiences.

     

    Keith responded, and then:

     

     

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting your response. I can’t begin to explain the level of excitement and satisfaction at the thought of being published through Aaduna….The poem is still available…. Again thank you so much for selecting my work for your Summer 2014 publication.

     

     

    And from there:

     

    Please consider the two short stories “Modernized Warfare” and “Flood Day” for future publication. Traditional bio info included below, shorts attached as two separate documents.

     

     

    And later:

     

    Good Morning Aaduna family,

     

    Of course the pieces are yours to publish and thanks again. I anxiously await the pla. 

    Persecution 

     

     

    <> <> <> <> <>

     

    Since it is rare for me to publicly articulate my colleagueship that I have with aaduna contributors, it is a significant moment for me to share the private, “brother to brother” moments that I enjoyed with De’Juan Antonio Clark, Sr., aka Persecution Avenue.  Here are a few snippets from his voice, and heart to me:

     

    Yes I definitely do have an opinion on the foolishness that is transpiring in the city right now but you know it’s not all too unique. Between the WSHH generation gone mad, opportunists and junkies seeing an easy come up and a mayor and police force unwilling to see the problems in the city we have the Baltimore Riots.  We’ll talk but I’m sending this email on the fly as I’m running late for work. Also it’ll pain you to know that the main area of the foolishness is the neighborhood that I grew up in. My mom still lives near there, I don’t, as I live near Morgan but she actually had prescriptions at the CVS that they burned to the ground. 

     
    It’s such an uneasy place still. Citizens are not satisfied with the lack of forward movement in the wake of Freddie Grey’s death. No real progress in the court cases related, not much change in the behaviors of the officers, not much change in the behaviors of the citizens.

    On the political side of things, SRB not running is awesome but now were left with a field of unknowns or of the well knowns, those that we know as the same caliber of servants as SRB.

    To put it simply, 1 year later and I can’t see 1 real difference, except of course the man that lost his life.

     

     

     

    After our exchanges of political opinion and maybe some shoulda, coulda, woulda thoughts for a while, our conversations transitioned as the situation in Baltimore shifted.  Eventually, each of us became pre-occupied with life’s generalities and there was mutual silence.  A few weeks ago, I broke that silence and sent him this e-,

    Dear Persecution:

     

    I hope you are doing well and enjoying this time of the year.

     

    I am excited to inform you that you have been nominated by aaduna for THE PUSHCART PRIZE: BEST OF THE SMALL PRESSES XLII, that will be published in hardcover and paperback in late fall 2017.  We cited you for your work, “Modernized Warfare”  Winners will be announced sometime in April 2017.

     

    aaduna will post the official announcement of nominees later this afternoon and I will send you the direct link so you can share our announcement with family, friends, colleagues, associates and on your social media platforms.  You can get more info on the PUSHCART PRIZE via www.pushcartprize.com

     

    My colleagues and I extend congratulations to you, and wish you continued success in getting your future writings in the public’s reading sphere and consciousness.

    I applaud you.  Lisa sends a festive shout out.

     

    bill

     

    He did not respond.  After a few days on December 15, I sent him an e-, Subject line: You have been too quiet.  Message:  “Are you okay? Just know there are folks concerned about you.

    I was too late.

     

     

    After the fact, trying to make sense of the sad news, Lisa discovered and informed me of this posting on DeJuan’s facebook page:

     

    DeJuan Clark

    December 5 at 2:31pm ·

     

    Unfortunately I have been under the weather or I would have been announced this but on Thursday I found out that I was nominated by Aaduna for a Pushcart Prize (http://www.pushcartprize.com/index.html) for my piece “Modernized Warfare” which was originally published in the Summer 2016 edition of Aaduna Literary Journal, it’s the second piece on the page, directly after “Flood Day” (http://aaduna.org/summer2016/fiction/persecution-avenue/). So if you haven’t had a chance to read it, you should probably jump on it. The rest of the info about the achievement is listed below and thanks for everyone that has supported me thus far in my writing career. #PersecutionisInevitable #AadunaLove

     

     

    Remembrances:

     

    Wed, Dec 21, 2016 9:57 am:

    Bill,

     

    I heard about Antonio and was deeply grieved. Each time I was published in Aaduna, he would be there. So you could say I was quite used to seeing him alongside my work.

     

    After Keith, it is a second major loss. I offer my condolences to you, Lisa and the rest of the Aaduna staff/community.

     

    May his soul rest in peace.

     

    P.S. I apologize for the delay. The news just reached me. The internet here hasn’t been working since nine days due to some fire.

     

     

    Regards,

    Sarah [Khan]

     

    ***

     

    It was an honor for DeJuan to be a part of such an amazing group of writers. From a very young age DeJuan captivated people with his ability to hold a conversation. He was wise beyond his years and the older folks wanted to hear what he had to say. Becoming a freelance writer was a dream fulfilled. We Love You and Will Forever Miss You. We could not have asked for a better son and big brother.

    Loving You Always…..Your Mom and Lil Brother (Andrea and Deleno Clark)

    Gloria Lynn, December 18, 2016

    ***

     

    Hi Bill,

     

    My name is Blake Metcalf and I have been a close, personal friend of DeJuan’s since we served together over 13 years ago. Even to those who knew what he was going through, his death was still unexpected and much too soon. I would like to thank you on behalf of myself and his family, especially his mother, Andrea, for the sentiment of dedicating your next issue. I have attached the eulogy I will be delivering to him at his wake on Thursday. You are welcome to use any part of it.

     

    Regards,

     

    Blake

     

     

    Publisher’s comment: In his memory, here is Blake’s eulogy in its entirety.  Our condolences to the Family:

     

    Peeling Back the Layers: A Tribute to D. Antonio Clark, Sr.

    by Blake Metcalf

    DeJuan Antonio Clark, Sr. was a golden heart in a titanium cage. Troubled and troublesome, off-key and off-kilter, prudent and profound. He was very well guarded and let few people in, but those lucky enough were invited into a mind-bending, multi-level madhouse that may lead you to question your whole take on reality. Just when you thought you knew him completely, you’d find you’re merely pulling back a layer of this beautifully complex individual, entering another level in the madhouse.

     

    I received my invitation in Diego Garcia in 2003. I was still new to the squadron when we deployed, but when I met AE3 Clark, he instantly treated me as though we’d already known each other. He was loud and obnoxious, the life of every party, and usually getting himself into trouble in the process. And he was an asshole. He was short tempered, quick witted, loved conflict and loved a fight. In fact, when I had known him only a few weeks, he threw a rock at me one night because he was convinced I was stealing his friend Pika. As I stood there glaring at him with blood on my chin and Pika assuring me, “that’s just DeJuan,” I was sure I knew all I needed to about this crazy, scrappy, tough shelled kid from Baltimore.

     

    Then I peeled back and saw beneath that outer layer one night at the end of a typical beach party which featured D climbing a palm tree barefoot, islander style on a bet that he couldn’t reach a coconut. As the moon and tide rose, most had stumbled back to the barracks or passed out in the sand, and I saw DeJuan sitting alone with a beer in one hand and a Newport in the other, silently staring out across the waves. He was so tranquil, introspective and in such reverence of nature I mused for a moment that he must have had an identical twin.

     

     Our friendship blossomed as we finished the deployment and returned to Whidbey Island, Washington, and I became more and more enchanted by his infectious charisma and often endless witty rants. He once went on a twenty minute tangent because I thought his sunglasses were made by ‘channel,’ at the end of which my then three year old daughter snapped the sunglasses in half. He looked at her calmly for a moment and laughed. That interaction was so indicative of DeJuan and the chaotic peacefulness of his character. He was the guy who one night was nearly setting his living room on fire, the next driving his car serenely in humble reflection down some back country road, and the third rolling that car, flipping it end over end in a neighboring field.

     

    We lost touch for a few years after the navy, but it didn’t really matter. When I showed up on his doorstep with my future wife in 2009, it was like no time had elapsed at all. He met me at the door as I was crossing the street, eager to see if I was going to be able to recognize him. He hadn’t changed a bit save the almost beard he was wearing. His bright eyes and smile, his cocky stance that screamed he knew he was something special. I comfortably greeted my old friend, the same ole DeJuan, perfectly preserved, just as I knew him.

     

    We made the drive to Baltimore from Wilmington as often as we could to hang out with DeJuan and Nook, and unbeknownst to me another layer was beginning to peel away. Yes, it was the same ole DeJuan but he had evolved, awakened. We shared many deep, existential discussions ranging from the personal lives of drag queens to racial relations, politics, spirituality, love and relationships, and the birth of Persecution Avenue. Always opinionated yet rarely judgmental, every conversation was a strange, wonderful trip into his uniquely beautiful world.

     

    After my divorce I moved to Annapolis, which allowed me to visit more often. Our conversations persisted, getting deeper every time we got together. We spent much time reminiscing about the navy, updating each other on where everyone is now. We spoke of his son, his classes and the plethora of projects he was always working and perfecting on the side. Sometimes he was quiet as though something was bothering him, but of course he was always the last to admit that something was wrong. And there was no need to admit to him if something was wrong with you. D had an incredible way of reading people. Although I occasionally wondered if he was listening to what I was saying, another layer pushed aside revealed that he often wasn’t. Instead, I caught him on several occasions silently studying me. One day I was especially distraught over the dealings with my recent ex, and I had little to say when we were together. DeJuan didn’t say much either, but the next day I received a text asking if I was ok, telling me not to think he didn’t notice. He hadn’t said anything the day before because he knew there was nothing to say, but that simple little text told me everything I needed to hear. Although he’d often try to hide it as though he was afraid to tarnish his rough exterior, he was a kind, selfless, caring person.

     

    Yet perhaps even more inspirational than our philosophical meanderings and his subtle comforts and advice was watching him work. Most trips into DeJuan’s world featured him sitting at his desk surrounded by screens. One computer monitor played nonstop Youtube videos of street fights and shootings, drag queen talk shows, random rants, documentaries on polygamy and escaping cults, and movies and TV shows with just as wide a spectrum. On the monitor next to that he was building and riding roller coasters on amusement park video games. With his phone he was posting rants and picking fights on various social media sites while on his tablet he was writing, editing or putting together a book. His sketch pad was always in arm’s reach and his websites and blogs were just one click away. He was always moving, doing, searching for that next great thing, and he created so many great things in his wake.

     

    It was no coincidence he had such a love for roller coasters. DeJuan was the greatest roller coaster ride there ever was. He was tough, fast, fearless and unbreakable. Even upon hearing the results of his tests and his impending expiration date last summer, he told the doctor he had to go as he was about to head to Six Flags. He called me on the way to share the news. He and Mike had stopped so he could get a new outfit to wear to the park. I’ll always remember hearing those words: “It’s cancer.” But it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it. That six letter, nightmare of a word which so often can’t be uttered without a crack in the voice or tear in the eye, rolled off his tongue as if he’d just told me he had a hangnail. And before I could respond, even process what he’d just said, he was just as nonchalantly off on a tangent about the clothes he was trying on and what was taking Mike so long.

     

    During subsequent visits it was often nearly impossible to tell that D was sick or down. He showed disappointment about quitting his job at Monocacy National Battlefield, a job which no doubt satisfied his connection with nature, but he was excited to have the extra time to work on his projects. He was busier than ever, taking three classes this semester in pursuit of his MFA, tutoring fellow students on the side, publishing stories and finishing books, all while enduring endless rounds of treatment. But eventually and inevitably the barrage of drugs and treatments began to wear him down, and I saw a new layer in my friend, one I never could have imagined ever existed. Our talks sometimes turned to his fears and depression, but even at his weakest moments he was more inspiring than most at their strongest.

     

    I developed a chest cold over Thanksgiving and wasn’t able to see him for a while. Little did I know he, too, was under the weather. I finally felt confident enough that my presence wasn’t a detriment to his already deteriorated immune system, and on December 9th sent him a text to see if he was up for company. He responded an hour later at 4:15 pm: ‘Lol im on the way to the hospital’. I asked what was going on and waited nervously for a reply that never came. Lol. Must be another hoop he’s got to jump through for the VA. It couldn’t be anything serious. Nothing was serious with DeJuan. He was going to live forever out of his own stubbornness, if not of spite for those who didn’t believe he could.But when I found out Monday morning that he was still there, in ICU, I was confused. I raced through work, then to the hospital and up to bed 6, unprepared for what I was about to see. He weakly awoke between doses of sedation and I locked eyes for one last brief moment with my friend. I knew it then, he told me, but I still couldn’t bring myself to believe it could actually happen. I left the hospital with wholehearted conviction that he was playing some cruel joke, that he would soon pop out of that bed and laugh because he had us all fooled.

     

    My beliefs and world were shattered two nights later with a phone call from Nook. The family was saying a prayer and walking D to the morgue. Still, I resisted this reality that was smacking me in the face like that rock in Diego. I wondered what antics he was going to get into at the morgue. I knew it wasn’t over. It couldn’t be. It’s DeJuan. This young man with an ancient soul was assuredly immortal, at least as far as I knew him. But that was just DeJuan. And just as you thought you knew him, another layer peeled away before your very eyes. I stood there for an endless instant, phone still in hand, contemplating that last layer of which I’d just caught a glimpse. D didn’t give up the fight, he didn’t die, cancer didn’t win. No, he got me. He got us all.

     

    As I sat in the kitchen last Friday with little to say, still trying to wrap my head around everything, quietly watching the interactions of his loving family, Andrea suggested I bring Nook for a visit so that I had someone there with me. And although I look forward to many future visits with Nook in Andrea’s kitchen, as I peel back that last layer to expose the core of this great man I gratefully call my best friend, I see that someone was there with me in the kitchen. He was. And he will be, just as he is here now. Because in that last level of D’s maniacal madhouse we see his greatest trick yet. DeJuan didn’t go anywhere; he is everywhere. In the hearts of friends and family, his classmates and shipmates, teachers and readers. He’s immortalized in the tall tales both by and about him, warm feelings and memories of the many he’s touched, but most concretely in his calling, his passion, his written word.

     

    So DeJuan, my shipmate, my guru, my friend, as I stand here today I do not mourn you, I do not say goodbye. Because I know that you are here, you’re everywhere, and you always will be. You’re looking over us as you always have, ranting and raving, inspiring us all. Thank you for enriching my life, for enriching this world. Godspeed, brother.

     

    ***

    Lisa Brennan to DeJuan Clark (posthumously)

    Dear DeJuan, our hearts are broken at learning the news from your dear friend Brandon of your passing to the other side. Your aaduna family is grieving at the loss of your bright creative light on this earth and you will be forever missed. Our greatest regret is that we never had a chance to meet you in person. Bill Berry, aaduna’s publisher will be making a public statement in the coming days. I had to share my love now, as you were a friend… a wonderful friend and champion supporter of aaduna. You were the one who created the hashtag #AadunaLove which will be forever honored in your name. We shall honor you and your work and continue to share your brilliance on this earth to all we meet. ~ Love and (((hugs)))) Lisa ♥

    ***

     

    Tiffany Haty This news makes me very sad. His writing is an inspiration to me with its sense of innate realism combined with his creative intelligence like no other. He and the way his writing touched others will be remembered always. I extend my deepest sympathy.

    ***

     

    From DeJuan’s Facebook page…a close friend posted that DeJuan had terminal cancer and has been suffering for a while.  Very few people knew this.  READ BELOW

     

    Last night a great soul transcended this world. My best friend and shipmate, DeJuan Clark, with all the grace, dignity and spitting vigor that only those who knew him could fully comprehend, laid down his arms in the battle against cancer. DeJuan was a fighter and a stubborn asshole to the end. When he first heard the news that his condition was terminal, he pushed the doctor off the phone because he was headed to 6 flags. He loved roller coasters, the ride of which could accurately define his character. He told very few of his plight, returned to 6 flags several times throughout his treatment while continuing his MFA for creative writing and publishing. On top of that he tutored other students, readied 2 books for publishing and published 2 stories, one of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize (winners to be announced next month). Last week he had been feeling under the weather, and when I asked Friday if he was up for company, he responded, “lol I’m on the way to the hospital.” Unfortunately that was the last I heard from him, but it was poetically befitting. Even at the end the last thing he wanted was someone worrying about him.

    DeJuan, I love and miss you brother. The world will truly not be the same without you. I can only take solace in the knowledge that you’re smiling down on us from heaven… And you’re giving them all hell!

    RIP

    ***

    Kathy Ferrentino Genua   My condolences

    December 16 at 12:24pm

     

    Jeff Genua   Oh my……….

    December 16 at 1:00pm

     

    Anita Nahal   Deepest condolences…

    December 16 at 1:06pm

     

    Robert B. Black Jr. · Friends with DeJuan Clark

    Oh my GOD!!!!! THIS IS VERY UPSETTING!!! R.I.P .

    December 16 at 4:14pm

     

    Jack Hardy   My condolences, my friend.

    December 16 at 5:27pm

     

    Pam Romeo Havens   Sorry Bill. :(

    December 16 at 6:16pm

     

    Maria Magdalena Franco   My condolences to aaduna and his family. May he R.I.P.

    December 16 at 6:44pm

     

    Tiffany Morales-Noble ·   Friends with DeJuan Clark

    That’s a great picture of him.

    December 16 at 6:50pm

     

    Christine Green   I’m so very sorry

    December 16 at 10:19pm

     

    Tamara J. Madison   Love and blessings to you both… That’s a lot…

    December 16 at 10:42pm

     

    Sheila Applegate   Wrapping DeJaun and all who love him in grace as you transition to a new relationship with him in spirit

    December 17 at 7:35am

     

    Hoss Stevens  Sorry for your loss

    December 17 at 12:43pm

     

    Cyd Charisse Fulton   Sincerest condolences. Prayers gone up for you and the family of the departed.

    December 18 at 6:38am

     

    Collette Fournier   So sorry to hear this Bill…he was so young!

     

    http://aadunanotes.blogspot.com/…/reeling-with-emotionsprof… 

    dejuan2

    D. Antonio Clark, Sr., aka Persecution Avenue (Photo Provided)

     

     

    Publisher’s closing comments:

     

    Sometime ago, Persecution sent me some additional work, which I have not yet read or sent for review.  Who knows, his presence through his words may still be with us.  Stay tuned.

     

     

    This issue is dedicated to D. Antonio Clark, Sr., aka Persecution Avenue

     

    Cordially,

    bill