About me

I figure it’s about time I introduce myself.

Writing a blog with experimental poetry and other weird stuff is about the last thing I thought I would ever do, but here I am.

I am a husband and father of two and a physician who works in rural North Carolina.  I am also pursuing an MFA at the University of Wikipedia.

What this blog is about is my effort to develop as a creative person.

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago.  I learned very clearly at an early age that there was no room for such foolishness as art or creativity.  I took the message to heart that I was not a creative person, and carried that with me through college, medical school raising children, career, etc. And then…

About four years ago about half my work time I was subcontracted out to a statewide public mental health agency whose employees had very low morale.  (Not long after they went belly up when they got nailed by the IRS for failing to pay taxes).  As an effort to improve morale, the agency decided to hold an employee art show, and directed each unit to submit a project.  I happened to be off the day the order came down.  Amazingly enough (insert feigned surprise here), I drew the short straw and was assigned to be our unit’s artist.  I felt pretty much at a loss as to what to do, but submitted a drawing of the Hiroshima Peace Museum (which maybe I’ll post here sometime).  I also took a cheapo point and shoot camera, went out in the backyard and to a local park, and shot about 150 photographs- about 10 of which I was happy with.  I submitted four for the art show.

Of course, the show never happened.  It was cancelled due to budget cuts and lack of participation.

Some time after that I started writing poems- not great work, but a few were somewhat interesting.  They were odd, but they were in my voice.  I wrote dozens in 2009- and then it stopped. I hit a state of writer’s block that stuck with me until a month ago, where Professor Al Filreis’s course in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo) at coursera.org finally broke the block.  ModPo helped me find a voice again.

The following year I began to experiment with painting.  My representational painting skills are poor, but I found I could do some interesting things if done in an aleatoric or abstract way.  Otherwise, my self got in the way and ruined the work- I simply tried too hard to make it “look right.”  This theme of trying too hard I have discovered is an obstacle in each of my creative endeavors, and was one of the causes of the writer’s block I mentioned above.

I have been a musician since I was a small kid, but didn’t pursue it seriously for years, until I joined a community orchestra last year.  I took up the double bass in February of this year, and it is now my main instrument, though I am still developing basic skills on the instrument.  I am a much better musician than I am a bassist, but that will change over time.

Everything I know about the creative arts- in music, writing, or visual arts- is self-taught (with the exception of ModPo, which was not a creative writing course).  My arts education from school was pitiful and is no help at all with my current pursuits.

I follow a number of accomplished artists and writers, and feel privileged that some of them follow me as well.  At this stage in my effort to develop as a creative person, I am where you were as children.  This has its advantages, but it has obvious disadvantages as well- one of which is that I am by definition a beginner. I am a little kid with a box of 64 crayons and a stack of blank paper. I may do some work that some people (even myself)  feel is fairly strong (say, “Anaplastic”), while other work may be quite substandard, even if it is popular (“The beach”).

This blog is an experimental effort to find my way as an artist, writer, and possibly as a musician as well.  There will hopefully be some solid work, but I’m going to lay some eggs too.  I have come to learn that that’s how a fledgling artist finds his or her voice.  I may cringe, but I’m open to taking the risk.

Image

I appreciate all of you taking the time to share this work with me.  I welcome any constructive criticism, as I hope to learn from each of you.  (In my professional work, I’ve been insulted, hit, kicked, punched, threatened, stalked, and pepper sprayed.  My skin is plenty thick enough).

Thank you very much, and I hope you enjoy what you find here.

Mark Snyder

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11 thoughts on “About me”

  1. I published my first book last month and when asked how I felt I said ‘naked’.

    That’s art.

    Love the blog and your willingness to stand there and reveal your inner thoughts. You are brilliant. Naked but brilliant.

  2. While I read your Bach post, I kept glancing at my piano, which is currently a condo for mice (I have a very soft heart and very lazy cats). When I saw your photos of skeletal ruins I thought of all the old barns around here that need photographing. When I read your poetry I had to use brain cells that probably haven’t been fired up since the 70’s. While reading how your creativity was discouraged as a child, I heard the same chorus of voices from my childhood, albeit with Southern accents. Count me in.

  3. It’s me again, Mark. I’ve nominated you for “The Versatile Blogger Award”. It’s a way for one blogger to recognize other bloggers whose work they enjoy. There are a few rules, but nothing terribly complicated or time-consuming, so here’s the short link: http://wp.me/p1XDRR-au. If you’d rather not participate I totally understand, just wanted you to know that either way, I admire your blog very much. Btw…mice still reside in the piano, but I’ve been digging out my sheet music. The little varmints may just have to relocate.

  4. Mark,
    Kieth Richards and Tom Waits wrote a song called “That Feeling”, and it sums up a lot about art and music for me; “One thing you can’t lose”.

    Art and music is about feeling, (with some thinking in there, too !) You can’t go wrong following, or noticing your feelings, in your creative endeavors. 🙂

    Aleatory : cool term. (Never heard before…).

    You’re on your way, and it’s “Never too late to become who you might have been.” (George Eliot ?)

    Keep up the good work ! (I love the sound of bass.)

    (I lived in NC for many many years, now I’m back to being a Yankee….. miss it, though I love Pittsburgh.)

  5. ModPo gave me my voice too. How wonderful to connect with, and read, a fellow ModPo alumnus!

  6. Hi, I wanted to thank you for the follow! Please be aware that my blog is a bilingual one. So you may get links to some poems in English as well as to some in Italian… Pictures, on the other hand, have no language barriers 😉
    Keep up the good work.
    Anna

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