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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Education through Storytelling and Song

There was a time when College Park, Georgia, in Fulton County, was not part of Atlanta's veracious appetite for swallowing up wild landscapes. In the 1940s, 50s, and '60s, Author and Educator Mark Warren knew his hometown as quaint, small, friendly, and blessed with adequate islands of forests. "A good place to explore, discover, and learn with a very patient yet unforgiving teacher, Nature. Mark remembers his classical academics beginning in the local grammar school, just like every other kid in town. He admits to not being an avid reader in those young years. However, he did have a passion for storytelling, as proven when he completed his first illustrated novella at age seven. Mark's education took a sharp turn when he reached sixth grade; he and his brother became students at the Georgia Military Academy. In hindsight, although he couldn't figure out just how he was going to fit in, Mark said, "I encountered great teachers who contributed to my introduction to the wider world." Mark also discovered his group of friends prioritized making the grade.

Entering college at the University of Georgia in Athens, he encountered a significant educational shift: learning to love to know. "I began as an art major and pole-vaulter on the track team; both experiences interested me in the human body." As a result, Mark changed his major in his junior year to chemistry/pre-med, finishing up as a Phi Beta Kappa honoree. He thought he was on the path to becoming a doctor. He was accepted to medical school but turned the spot down in the summer before classes started. The winds of chance and change often sweep through one's life; Mark was on a twenty-year journey into the music industry as a composer and arranger. “During this time, I performed my music in concerts at Atlanta’s Civic Center, colleges, and other venues.” He proudly says the Atlanta Symphony performed his suite entitled "The Once and Future King." 

Mark says, "Throughout the post-college years, I nurtured my innate love of the forest by exploring and learning the kind of skills and crafts that had once been everyday lore of the Cherokees who lived, and still do, in the Southern Appalachian Mountains." The more Mark learned about the natural environment his appreciation grew for “the masterpiece of Nature's design."

The founding of Medicine Bow, Mark's wilderness school, resulted from the insights he gained during this time. Now, half a century later, Mark is just as committed to teaching survival classes to others and sharing his insight into the mysteries of Nature as he was when he began his journey so long ago. He considers his most successful career path as a teacher of Nature and Cherokee survival skills: plant identification, using plants as food, and medicine. Also, survival skills such as tracking, hunting, archery, bow and arrow construction, building shelters, primitive cooking methods, and the production and use of fire.

Today, Mark considers his most passionate career as a writer. One of the natural talents Mark discovered early in his career was writing. "As a writer, I am grateful to the English teachers I met in military school." However, Mark realized once he became a reader, he could count several authors as influencers on his writing, individuals such as Cormac McCarthy, Wendell Berry, Robert B. Parker, Richard Adams, James Lee Burke, Sally Carringhar, James Galvin, Annie Proulx, and Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few. Mark has published numerous nonfiction books on Nature and a "slew of novels."

A few of his best-known works are his series on the lives of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, where his storytelling talent captivates the readers' imagination and intellect. Mark is a member of the Western Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, and the Wild West History Association; due to the number of fiction and nonfiction books, he writes with themes of the American West. Mark has received multiple awards for his writing and conservation work. Most recently, he won the Will Rogers Medallion Award in 2020 and 2022 and the distinguished title of Georgia Author of the Year. Mark lectures at museums, libraries, book festivals, and many private groups by invitation. His books are sold to the public through his website and The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

Author, composer, and teacher Mark Warren works from his home studio deep in the woods of Southern Appalachia near Dahlonega, Georgia. In the company of the forest view, his piano, a wooden desk, an antique stained-glass lamp for light, and a wood-burning stove to keep the chill at bay; the place where the spirits of creation find a home and where inspiration takes shape to pass through generations. Mark explains, "Creativity is the most important gift bestowed upon me. I cannot fathom a life without it. Be it a passage of music or a paragraph from a book. My passion for writing is like a flame that spontaneously combusts in successive bursts. I am thankful for it each day.”



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