The job of a poet is to feel deeply, and the magic of a poet is to put thoughts, images, and feelings into the minds of others irrespective of distance or time.
Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is an award winning author. He's a lecturer, editor, and writing coach. But what immediately stood out to me when I met Andrew, on the windswept shores of Great Sand Dunes National Park in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado on a sunny March morning, wasn't his accomplishments, it was his almost instant ability to connect to the people around him and make them feel not only welcome in his presence, but as if they'd become a trusted confidant.
When I first spoke to Andrew about becoming part of my personal project, The True Magicians, I suggested photographing him in his workspace at home, surrounded by his books and papers. An important part of the project is to photograph the "magicians" in their proverbial towers, after all. What I hadn't realized, was that Andrew's "tower" wasn't an office. He immediately suggested we step out of doors.
"My work space is certainly in my home and on my front porch, but, more so, it's in the world. What if we went out into nature somewhere in the US (sand dunes national park, glacier national park, Santa Monica beach) and you took photos there and we talked there? That's where most of my work gets done."
It was clear from the beginning that Andrew enjoyed the out of doors with rare sincerity. During our interview, he escaped more than once to put inspiration on paper, sitting in the sand amongst the trees with a well worn notepad on his lap, oblivious to the wind-blown sand.
Unlike those who fall into writing later in life, Andrew had always known that he wanted to be a writer. Writing, for him, is a way to take the thoughts and feelings out of his head and release them into the world; a way to make sense of the world and of his place in it.
He pursued that dream through college to earn his Master of Fine Arts Degree, and went on to build a career for himself that allows him to marry two of his passions; writing and travel.
To read Andrew's work, to speak with him in person, is to be treated frankly and warmly, but also to be given the gift of seeing the world as something far bigger, far deeper, and far more inspiring that you had imagined it to be, and to see people as more complex and more worthy of understanding, empathy, and praise.
That is why Andrew is a True Magician.