Saturday, May 16, 2009
I wasn't really surprised to discover that my pen pal has a sweet and sensitive face, which I got to see for the first time this week after writing to one another for nearly two years. Mark is a photographer, writer and English teacher who lives in Pulaski, Virginia; and he and I struck up a lasting correspondence which has consisted of heartfelt emails, photos and music exchanged in the mail, and close attention to each others lives unfolding on our blogs. This week, Mark got on a Greyhound bus and made his way to New York City for the first time to pay a visit. It was remarkable that the person I knew from writing and images was exactly as I had imagined, and we were like two peas in a pod.
It is easy to be reminded of William Eggleston by this native Virginian who has been making prolific and artful snapshots of the small-town vernacular of his region, far removed from New York City's art world. Mark's primary outlet for these images is his blog, Conditions Uncertain, which also includes frequent excerpts from short stories, poetry and song lyrics, as well as his own beautiful and contemplative writing. Mark's blog consistently draws a relationship between American photography and American literature, particularly in its depiction of the everyday.
Like Eggleston, Mark is a loner and a wanderer, deeply passionate about the part of the country that he knows. Through his words and photographs, I have gotten a feel for places like Pulaski, Stuart, Radford, Fries, Galax, Blacksburg, Hillsville, Collinsville, Sweeney Hollow, and Cripple Creek. Sometimes, I almost envy his ability to roam through towns like these, and eventually, it's my turn to get on a bus to southwestern Virginia.