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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ken Patchen

"I don't consider myself to be a painter.  I think of myself as someone who has used the medium of painting in an attempt to extend — give an extra dimension to — the medium of words.  It happens very often my writing with a pen is interrupted with my writing with a brush — but I think of both as writing."

American Poet, Novelist
1911 - 1972

We define ourselves with labels.  "I am a painter.  What are you?"  "I am a poet."  We are born into this world without labels and when we die, our obituaries tell the world that we were lawyers, doctors, merchants or candlestick makers.

In my profile I list many of the labels that have defined me over the years:  a carpenter, street sweeper, car hop, corn detasseler, hospital orderly, radio announcer, blogger, book editor, publisher, freelance writer, bus driver, sports writer, bookkeeper, policy and procedures writer, forms designer, marketing vice-president, corporate executive, professional speaker, facilitator, salesman, trainer, poet, storyteller, organizational development consultant, ad writer and communications executive.  And that is the short list.

What labels have you given yourself?  What labels have others given you?  Do these labels define you?  Do the labels tell the world who you are?  Do your labels limit you or expand the boundaries of who you are?  Do the labels allow others to place you in a cubbyhole?  To limit your creativity?

Do you ever judge people by their labels?  "Oh, you are just a bus driver?  A street sweeper?  A garbage collector?...."

Patchen said that he is not a painter.  He is a writer who has given an added dimension to his writing.  He has extended the boundary of the label beyond how most people define it.