Speaker Spotlight: Peter Maeck, prolific creative
Peter Maeck is a prolific writer and photographer. His plays and dance scenarios, including those for Pilobolus and MOMIX Dance Theatres, have been produced in New York City, Europe, and Africa. His photographs have been shown in galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, and other American cities, as well as internationally. Maeck also served as a U.S. State Department Cultural Specialist in Tanzania and Morocco.
Maeck will be sharing his creative genius on the TEDxPeachtree 2016 stage and took a few moments out of preparations to chat with us.
TEDxPeachtree: This year’s theme is “Together” What does “together” mean to you?
Peter Maeck: One may be together with other people, with oneself, or with time. “Togetherness” suggests collective warm fellowship, but should also imply companionability of both the complementary and contrarian aspects of our inner natures. Togetherness is most keenly felt in the perfect still point between time past and time future: the present instant.
TEDxPT: What is it about your work that keeps you going?
Maeck: The experience of writing a poem, play, or story, or creating a photograph, is like riding a train through wild, wonderful, unexpected scenery. When I wake up in the morning I hurry to get to work because I never want to miss that train.
TEDxPT: What is your passion?
Maeck: Creating verbal and visual art that achieves Thomas Aquinas’s three criteria for Beauty: Wholeness, Harmony, and Radiance. Likewise, running the most efficient and elegant line around a race course or a down a ski slope.
TEDxPT: What’s the one place you visited that you’ll never forget and why?
Maeck: As a six year-old, riding west in our family car, seeing the Rocky Mountains rise mirage-like at the horizon, then rising in them to my grandfather’s Colorado property to spend a high country summer, then feeling like that six-year old boy again in the mountains every summer since.
TEDxPT: Describe an unforgettable moment.
Maeck: Two moments: At the births of my son and daughter, feeling delight in what I had helped create, and wonderment at what was emerging sui generis.
TEDxPT: Three words that describe you.
Maeck: Father of two.
TEDxPT: Who’s your hero and why?
Maeck: My mother, for her liberality of mind, independence of spirit, and bravery of heart.
TEDxPT: Who inspires you?
Maeck: John Rassias (1925-2015), Dartmouth College Professor of French Language and Literature because his lusty, theatrical approach to teaching reflected, and instilled in me, a full-bodied, full-throated, full-hearted approach to life.
TEDxPT: For aspiring poets and playwrights, how can they get started? What ought they to do to get better at their art?
Maeck on getting started:
My fourth grade teacher gave our class a short story writing assignment. Lest we be daunted by blank pages waiting to be filled, she suggested we cut pictures from a magazine and write our stories about these images. With this visual inspiration, my creative energies were released. I enjoyed story-making so much that I decided to be a writer when I grew up, and so I did. To writers facing the sometimes daunting challenge of a blank page or computer screen, I thus recommend finding a “hook” to stimulate creativity – a picture, a snatch of overheard conversation, a bit of music, a dream, or some other ready-made starter material which, like yeast, spurs creative fermentation.
Maeck on getting better:
Create in company with yourself; seek and welcome responses from others to your work; resist complacency when praised; take constructive criticism not as specific directive for revision, but as general indication of weakness in some area of your work; reapply your creative faculties to readdress, revise, and strengthen that area.