Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mick McKellar: "Masques"

By Mick McKellar
From the Mayo Clinic*

Why do I write so much about myself? First, I learned that you should write about something you know and mostly understand. Second, my friends taught me that it is OK to share. Finally, I get to "scoop" the gossips and tattletales.

I grew up as a grimly private little fellow, unwilling to communicate anything about myself or my family. Even while on the John Glenn High School Varsity Debate Team, I was something of an enigma...dynamic in an argument, but reticent...even a stone. At the time, I built elaborate fantasies about being the lone wolf, keeping anything about me intensely private. My hero? Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

Time spent on stage, wonderful hours spent with my friends in the Calumet Players, and advice from some friends and some artists in the Pine Mountain Music Festival, taught me that in the art-forms of the stage, sharing self can bring characters to life. Life experience also taught me the power of viral velocity and the power of information to grow with each telling of each tiny, titillating tidbit. Therefore, I share, but I write the script, I choreograph my steps, and I direct myself as I perform. My show is my own, and it is based on a true least as I see it.

This, I learned, is the true value of autobiography over auto-grandiloqui.


I'm dancing a desperate minuet,
My lines are a dimly-lit memory,
My steps are manic and frantic, and yet
The truths of my feelings are plain to see.
The costumes are exquisitely designed,
And clash with the coarse choreography;
Yet, I think the audience does not mind,
As long as I speak a soliloquy.
What starts out as an intermedio,
Can quickly become a pageant, full blown --
Much faster than TV or radio,
Has the velocity of gossip grown.
And so, my friends the true story will know,
Through my true, elaborate, one-man-show.

Mick McKellar
February 2011

(Photo: A recent photo of Mick McKellar in a mask he is required to wear. Reprinted with permission.)


Mick McKellar plays a trolley car driver in the 2010 Red Metal Radio Show in the historic Calumet Theatre. (Video clip by Keweenaw Now)

*Editor's Note: Mick McKellar is about to undergo an important operation at the Mayo Clinic on Monday, Feb. 21. To learn more about his struggle with leukemia and read more of his inspiring poems, visit his blog. Keep Mick in your thoughts or prayers this Monday. You can write to him at His article and poem are reprinted here with permission.

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