I met Susan Mulder live and in person last April 2018 at a Christian writer’s gathering in Michigan. I’d been following her beautiful work on social media via Instagram and loved the vignettes she ‘painted’ with her camera. Susan is my first official interview for The Sage Ones–Christian women with wisdom and encouragement to pass on to the next generation, beautiful, varied examples of how to live out faith in Jesus with the gifts God has given us.
Susan’s recently embarked on a new endeavor–podcasting–fleshing out another adventure. Please welcome Susan Mulder.
- I know you’re a trained artist and busy grandparent. Tell us about that balancing act.
I have a terminal degree in fine arts-which is a fancy way of saying I have an MFA with an emphasis in painting. I really see myself as more of creator because I work in multiple media ranging from oil painting, mixed media, performance, sculpture to where I am now, working with the written word. I have exhibited extensively and after a self-imposed (see below) break I have slowly re-entered the exhibition circuit showing this summer, with two exhibitions coming in the spring.
I am currently on a fast track program for grand-parenting. I’ve gone from three grands to six grands in the last 5 months and help care for them while their parents work. (Not all at the same time!) When I walked away from my dream job teaching at the college level 4 years ago (long story and this is where the radical obedience part of what I do comes in) I committed to pouring into my family by helping care for these little ones. I take it very seriously-this is relational development at its foundational level. I have one opportunity with each of these littles to build something that will last a lifetime and I am all in.
Yes, Mother Said, 36″ x 36″, Oil, Acrylic, Spray Paint on Designer Fabric, S. Mulder
2. Now you’ve jumped into podcasting. Did you have any prior careers?
Yes, I have had several iterations occupationally. I’ve served as an educator both at the collegiate level and as an independent visual arts instructor at arts institutions and out of my home studio. I’ve presented at conferences, taught public speaking, and best business practices for artists. I also have experience in non-profit development and leadership with non-profit arts organization for marginalized youth and worked on organizational development within the church.
And just for fun, one of my favorite roles was as an assistant sushi chef. I love to try new things and say yes to new opportunities which has provided me with some very rich experiences!
- How and why did you decide to start Poet Kind podcast?
As I mentioned earlier, I see it as an act of radical obedience. I can tell you what I was doing, even what I was wearing when the words ‘you are finished here’ echoed internally and I knew God was telling me to leave my “dream job” that I had worked so hard for. As much as I wanted to shake it off, it became more and more apparent that my full attention and obedience was the only thing He would accept. My entire being wanted to teach and leaving that position was one of the hardest things I have done. I felt like a monumental failure yet there was always the reassurance of that clear voice telling me otherwise.
As for starting Poet Kind-that was another prompting-but one of generation, not of letting go. The idea of doing a podcast had popped in and out of my mind but I never took it seriously, even when others suggested I do so. It seemed foolish to do something like a podcast with no platform, no built-in audience and no background. Then, there was another moment-the kind that requires an action, a stepping out, an obedience. It seemed a little far-fetched that this was what God was suggesting; I have a hard enough time calling myself a poet and the idea of being a podcaster bordered on funny. However, I figured if He was going to ask me to step so far outside my little world that 1) He has a sense of humor, and 2) Why not? What was there to lose?
The learning curve has been steep but is more fun than I could have imagined. As long as I am confident I’m doing what I have been asked to do and there is joy present, I’ll keep it podcasting. As for the title, Poet Kind, it came from a very light-hearted conversation; when asked what kind of podcast I would do, I jokingly said a “poet kind.”
4. How do you choose the poetry to feature on Poet Kind?
In choosing content I consider topics that come up in ordinary conversations, thinking perhaps if the people around me are wondering about these ideas maybe others are as well. Right now, the majority of what I read on the podcast comes from the public domain-which does limit my selections, but my hope is that I will have enough original content coming in, eventually, to feature and provide a platform for poets to get their work out there.
Poet Talk, which is a monthly feature on Poet Kind, is another way to offer poets a place to feature their work. It also gives listeners a chance to peek behind the curtain and learn more about the writers, their motivations and, and processes. I invite poets on the program the same way I select poetry to feature. I do my best to get a feel for their work through their submission profile and the strength of their work. Does the work function on more than just surface, does it provoke thought beyond merely what it says? Occasionally I reach out to specific poets because I am familiar with their writing and know that they would be a great fit.
- Since you are a believer in Christ, how does your faith inform your work on the podcast, either behind the scenes or in front of the microphone?
I have a deeply embedded philosophy when it comes to this. Though I do make very direct references to religious/spiritual ideas, concepts and questions in my writing that I wouldn’t make in my painting, I don’t call myself a Christian writer. I am a Christian who happens to be a writer and that faith enters into everything I do. The decisions I make for Poet Kind can’t help but be infused with my personal influences. What I read, what I know, and what I believe are integrated within the entire process. Were I to attempt to sift out any of those ingredients it wouldn’t be possible to offer something truly authentic. It is far from perfect, to be sure, and there is a lot of room for growth, but that is part of the process too!
When it comes to Poet Kind, I would hope the way I conduct myself reflects my beliefs. I want the podcast to be a place of hospitality, encouragement, maybe even a respite. Life is busy so if in a few minutes once a week, someone can find a place to take a deep breath or think differently just for a moment, then it’s a good thing.
You can find Poet Kind podcast on the Anchor app on your phone or tablet, as well as Google Podcasts, iTunes and Stitcher.
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