Contact info:

sfp [at] sydneypenner.ca

203 Hutchins Dr.
Wilmore, KY 40390

A little bit about me

I started out in Belize, though it was still British Honduras when I was born. When I was eight, my family moved to Nova Scotia, which was a good thing since I much prefer the cold of a Canadian winter to the heat of a Belizean wet season. Though I do miss the sapodilla, Cinnamon Hummingbirds, and heliconians, among other things.

In Nova Scotia, I went to school for a while, but eventually decided I had better things to do with my life. So I dropped out and worked on my parents' organic vegetable farm. The hours were long during the summer, but the lovely Canadian winters ensured that I was left with ample time for reading. Reading books of my own choice, I might add! The fact that I grew up on a farm may have some academic relevance, insofar as it helps account for my lower productivity in the spring. April and May ought to be spent planting things, not writing papers.

Along the way, I strengthened my claim to Canadian citizenship by learning to skate, though I also learned that one really needs to start learning a good deal earlier in one's life. Still, I played a fair bit of recreational hockey and thoroughly enjoyed myself as long as I didn't think too much about how I was no doubt mostly getting in the way of the other players to whom skating came just as naturally as walking.

Eventually I came to think that it would be nice to have more people around who wanted to talk about the sorts of things that I was reading about. Since I was under the pathetically misguided impression that colleges were places where thousands of people pursuing lives of the mind congregated, I decided to go to college. I discovered soon enough that a few students had other pursuits in mind, but I stuck with it and spent time as an undergraduate at three places—Rosedale Bible College, Acadia University, and Yale University—until I ended up with a B.A. in philosophy and history from the last place. Not only did I get a piece of paper with some Latin on it from Yale, I also met a young woman there who is now my wife.

About a week after getting married, Erin and I both started graduate study at Cornell University, I in the philosophy department, she in the English department. We spent five lovely years there. What better place for someone who likes medieval philosophy, birdwatching, and walking in the woods, among other things?

After Cornell, we spent three years in England, a place of many birdwatchers (or twitchers) and a few birds. This photo says it all. Most of my time in England was taken up with being a JRF at Merton College and being a father of two young children, but I did get out occasionally and am happy to say that I tallied 195 species of birds while there.

Now we're in Kentucky, to where I followed my wife, Erin Penner, who is an assistant professor of English at Asbury University. We're rather far from any major body of water for my tastes -- I haven't seen a single gull or tern in weeks! -- but the Kentucky River Palisades are beautiful and biologically fascinating.