Far From Average

The Story behind 'Celebrating Differences'


Written on the 4th January 2003, 'Celebrating Differences' has become my most recited poem. I have previously read the poem at Donna Williams' lectures in Sheffield (2006) and Aintree (2008) and at writing groups. It has also been printed in People's Performance's self-published 'Poetry Live' (2004) and recorded on 'People Perform Poetry' (2006). It was also published in an edition of Oxford University's OSSCI Newsletter, via Andrew Whitehouse and Professor Dorothy Bishop, whom I had an assessment test with on the 31 August 2006.

The Poem Itself

Prior to completing 'Celebrating Differences', the poem had a 2 month gestation period. After the 28th November 2002, I had realised what made Stuart Vallantine tick. From that point I ceased to worry about following the crowd. From that date forward I knew for sure that I was never going to be the next Wayne Rooney nor John Terry.

Writing my own poetry has led to greater self-awareness and realisation. By December [2002] I was planning another piece which would be an affirmation of this change.


'Celebrating Differences' took the best part of 20 minutes to write. The poem emerged on a snowy Saturday night in 2003 after a walk along Mottram Rise in the snow (Stalybridge Celtic's home match with Frickley Athletic was postponed that day, prompting the walk).

Its first public reading was with the People's Performance writing group later on in the year. This led to its appearance in the group's print and audio productions. 01 March 2006 saw the piece being read at Sunfield School, Lower Clent, as part of an event entitled 'Asperger Syndrome: A Celebration Day'.

On May of the same year, it was read at one of Donna Williams' autism lectures, at St Mary's Church, Sheffield. This feat was repeated at her Aintree lecture (Corbieres Suite, Aintree Racecourse) on the 19 September 2008.

The piece has been met with universal acclaim by its audiences. It formed part of my main repertoire at Woodend Mill's 'Gifted' weekend on the 29/30 November 2008.


Why not read the poem itself, sit comfortably and enjoy? Just click on the link under the 'Related Articles' heading.

Stuart Vallantine,

25 September 2009