Separate people?


Jack Palance: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Billy Crystal: No, what?
Jack Palance: This [he holds up his finger].
Billy Crystal: Your finger?
Jack Palance: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.

-from City Slickers

Catching up with a friend the other day, we fell into talking about our things. For me it is writing, for my friend it is the craft of sewing. ‘You’re lucky,’ she said. ‘At least you can connect your research with your passion. There’s a built-in link. How can I merge RE with sewing? A bid on the theology of cushions?’ Not entirely joking I said to her, ‘Well, maybe you should.’ Then we bantered some more about the world of work, specifically our identities at work, speculating that at some level there is a large, ‘backstage’ part of us that is not revealed when we cross the threshold of our offices each day. I told her I used to spend most of my time trying to keep the two ‘me’s’ separate, but have lately come to realise it is so much wasted energy, like trying to stop climate change by avoiding the cracks in the pavement. I am slowly coming to enjoy what a late friend used to call my ‘hybridity’. I am a poet (colleagues still insist on putting the word ‘published’ in front of it), and a researcher, and  a teacher. Even more recently I have begun to see these identities not as competing but as forming the sides of a triangle, in the middle of which sits a complex and fertile playground waiting to be explored. ‘I want to be creative in everything I do, not just my poems,’ I said. ‘We aren’t separate people. We bring who we are, our hopes, experiences, losses, and dreams, just as you would in the classroom. No splits. It’s time to stop pretending.’


  1. Hey Ant,

    Great post, I might add thoroughly decent chap too !! Great work keep it up 🙂



    Matthew Lowe

    Twitter : mattlowe1974 Tel. : 07841 052514



  2. Exactly right, Anthony. I remember a story about a millwright who also wrote poetry. No one knew this until he died and the manager of his company called on the widow. She asked to read some poetry which the manager thought was quite wonderful. He inquired about the poet and was boggled to learn it was her husband, the millwright. The author of the book that included this story, a book about leadership, advised just what you have said here. I’m happy to hear it from a poet. Je suis comme je suis…or as Popeye said, I yam what I yam.


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