In an essay entitled “Place and Displacement: Reflections on Some Recent Poetry from Northern Ireland,” Seamus Heaney observes of the people of Ulster that they live in two places: “Each person in Ulster lives first in the Ulster of the actual present, and then in one or other Ulster of the mind.” Just as the two-mindedness of Northern Ireland shaped Heaney’s vocation as a poet, so the conflicts inherent in my native place and upbringing—a tension between the Trailer Park and the Ivory Tower—have fundamentally shaped my vocation and its trajectory. Indeed, my life could well be encapsulated by the only two diplomas I’d ever hang on my office wall if I ever got around to decorating my office, my GED and my PhD. Between these two lie my vocation.Continue reading “Growing up In Between: Some Thoughts on Formative Tensions and Vocational Discernment”
What underlies all of my teaching and writing is a deep desire to hold in tension with one another life and learning, book smarts and street smarts, the Ivory Tower and the Trailer Park. I want these two worlds to inform, resist, and, above all, to speak to one another because each contains good and bad, insight and ignorance, that serve as redress to the other.