Author • Professor • Biker Poet
| Dr. Mark Tiger Edmonds
Author • Professor • Biker Poet
At an age when most five-year-olds were learning to finger paint, three elements of the life/art crisscross had already converged in Dr. Mark Edmonds’ life. His grandma taught him to read; his daddy gave him books, and he crawled up onto the wide back seat of a “Monsterglide Harley all tricked out with fringe and chrome and lights” and was driven into the Michigan night. The indelible imprints resulted in his life’s passion, and rewrote the Chinese proverb; a journey of a million miles begins with a single ride.
“For the next ten years, I goofed around, hanging out at the garages, and mooching rides on the back of everybody’s bike. I was 15 or 16 before I got my own…a 1961, 175 Bultaco,” says Edmonds, who also answers to the nickname Tiger (“If I had been allowed to name myself, I would have been Duke, or Lance, or a really cool kind of thing”). “I think the model was called a Matralla.”
In 1968, still flush with the seduction of the highway, but fueled by the thrilling adventure stories penned by Walter Scott, Mark Twain, and Jack London, he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from the University of Michigan. Law school aspirations were derailed by a Draft Notice, and after serving a tour with the U.S. Army, he earned both his Masters Degree in Education - Reading (1972), and his Doctorate of Arts in English Degree (1975) from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Edmonds joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1971 as an Instructor in English, rising to the position of Assistant Professor of English, and the Director of the Reading/Writing Lab. In 1981, attracted to the friendlier climate and bucolic setting of Central Florida, he joined the faculty at Saint Leo University where he currently serves as Professor of English. His outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, student learning, and campus life were recognized in 1989 earning him the prestigious Sears Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, and again in 1993, winning the Saint Leo Student Leadership Coalition - Maura Snyder Outstanding Faculty Award.
A slight man of immense proportion, the bearded and blue-jeaned Edmonds celebrated his rogue intellect, Life-Through-The-Tiger’s-Eye perspective in 1990, writing and recording a stunning collection of Epic Motorcycle Poetry entitled, Gather ‘Round Me Riders (White Horse Press). The Homerian-styled odyssey, narrated in his deep, smoky-throated drawl, and set to the original music of Ernie Williams, recreates “rhythmic tales of winding roads and intriguing companions.”
Released as an audiocassette, Gather ‘Round Me Riders garnered critical acclaim, crossing over from the biker and trucker market into the tennis and martini crowd. Motorcycle Times reviewer, John Eubank, wrote, “The poems explain what it’s like to be a biker, as opposed to someone for whom motorcycles are transportation or a hobby, better than anything I have ever heard.”
RPM Magazine said, “The poems are haunting in a way…like a visit from a long lost companion.”
Paul Wilborn, Tampa Tribune columnist wrote, “In some poems, the road is brutal, but there are moments of blinding beauty.”
A compelling storyteller fashioned after the legendary Will Rogers, Mark Twain, and Bob Dylan, Edmonds credits his grandfather for the success of his distinct presentation style, and the holographic detail in his work.
“When I first began doing this, which is why I started teaching school so I could have summers off…I would be gone six weeks, a couple of months,” he explains. “I would come back to Flint, to my grandparent’s house. Both of them would start on me. ‘Where have you been to, boy? What did you see? Tell me some of the names.’ Grandma was doin’ it because she was a schoolteacher and was testing me. The Old Man was doin’ it so I’d remember it better. I started writing the poems so I could tell The Old Man, so I knew where I’d been to.”
In 1998, he authored his first book, Longrider- a tale of just passin’ through (Livingston Press). Nominated for the Pushcart Literary Prize, Longrider chronicles his million-mile journey throughout the United States and Canada on BMW Motorcycles named “Chuck,” “Morgen,” and “RT.”
Rick Harmon, Arts & Travel Editor, Montgomery Advertiser writes, “[Edmonds’] style reminds me of Paul Hemphill…but he doesn’t beat you over the head with the message you are supposed to get. I liked it very much.”
BMW Owners News proclaims, “If you love the open road, freedom, and wind in your face, you will enjoy this book of memories that is written in the easy, flowing style of Garrison Keillor’s Tales of Lake Wobegon.”
When his teaching schedule allows, Dr. Edmonds performs readings and book signings from Longrider and Gather ‘Round Me Riders throughout the United States. The venues have included the 10th Annual Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee, “countless campfires, bars, wedding receptions, motorcycle rallies, poker runs, coffee shops, and dry places in rain storms.” In March, 2001 he will be the Keynote Speaker at the American Lifestyles National Symposium - “American Road Literature” - SUNY, Potsdam, New York.
In addition to Longrider and Gather ‘Round Me Riders, he has co-written, and is the voice talent for TV and Radio commercials. His credits include “The Ride of Your Life Contest”- radio ads for the Double H Boot Company, “Great American Farm Dog Contest” - radio and TV ads for Buctril Herbicide Company, and “These Boots Are Real” - a series of six radio and TV commercials for the Acme Boot Corporation. His newest works include The Ghost of Scootertrash Past (Livingston Press), and Mark Tiger Edmonds – The Distance Through the Handelbars (Mullet Records International), a CD of “Epic Motorcycle Poetry and Music.”
Dr. Mark “Tiger” Edmonds offers a riveting look at contemporary America with insights long thought forgotten. “There is no place, nowhere else in my life that makes me feel as whole, as real, as right, as in the saddle in motion on the highway. None of us chose to be longriders, but a few of us have embraced our destiny.”
“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from the leaves.” - Euripedes
a douglasfordesimms profile