The Actuarial Poet: Suture Lines Review

Read­ing time: 2 mins

Vic­to­ria Gao reviews Paul Scully’s poet­ry book, Suture Lines, and shares some of his inspi­ra­tion and pas­sion for the art.

Paul Scul­ly recent­ly pub­lished his sec­ond poet­ry col­lec­tion, Suture Lines fol­low­ing on from his first book, An Exis­ten­tial Gram­mar. Com­pared to the first col­lec­tion, Suture Lines is a some­what more inte­grat­ed read, with love being a per­va­sive theme.

About the Author

Paul is not your typ­i­cal poet. By back­ground, he is an Actu­ary work­ing as a non-exec­u­tive direc­tor, and by pas­sion, he is a poet.

For Paul, he has always regard­ed poet­ry, math­e­mat­ics and music as close­ly relat­ed. In his 2014 arti­cle in Actu­ar­ies Dig­i­tal, he referred to a quote that spoke to him: “There are, I believe, in the world few things with greater capa­bil­i­ty of poet­ry in it than the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion table”. And this pas­sion for poet­ry is evi­dent, both in per­son and on paper. Suture Lines is a col­lec­tion of work that grew out of his time spent at Syd­ney Uni­ver­si­ty study­ing his Master’s degree and hence con­tains a diverse range of poems, for every­one to enjoy.

About the Text

In the cor­po­rate world, brevi­ty and pre­ci­sion in writ­ing is praised. More­over, every piece of writ­ing should con­vey a clear mes­sage and pur­pose.  In poet­ry, how­ev­er, the writ­ten lan­guage becomes a sen­so­ry tool, not nec­es­sary to con­vey a clear mes­sage. Edith Sitwell (Rhyme and Rea­son) sum­marised poet­ry in one sen­tence: “Poet­ry enno­bles the heart and the eyes and unveils the mean­ing of things upon which the heart and the eyes dwell.” And that is pre­cise­ly how Suture lines is. It is clear that Paul has a fas­ci­na­tion with indi­vid­ual words, and toys with sounds. With each poem, he engages var­i­ous lit­er­ary tech­niques to con­jure a vivid array of sens­es and emo­tions.

Indi­vid­u­al­ly, his pieces are wide-rang­ing cov­er­ing a mul­ti­tude of themes. With that being said, he placed empha­sis find­ing rel­e­vant group­ing in his indi­vid­ual pieces, prun­ing his col­lec­tion to what it is today. Although each poem may not speak to every­one, his diverse col­lec­tion can cater to a mul­ti­tude of peo­ple of vary­ing tastes. If you enjoy read­ing, for the pur­pose of a sen­so­ry and emo­tion­al stim­u­la­tion, Suture Lines is right up your alley.

Takeaway for an Actuary

The actu­ar­i­al pro­fes­sion is all about pre­ci­sion and num­bers. It is some­times refresh­ing to see the world through a dif­fer­ent lens – and Paul Scul­ly has def­i­nite­ly demon­strat­ed him­self as an Actu­ary who is also a poet. 

Paul’s book can be pur­chased here

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About the author

Victoria Gao

Victoria is an Assistant Product Analytics Manager in the Institutional Banking arm of CBA. She has previously worked in Life insurance, Superannuation & Investments and Strategy. At the Actuaries Institute, she is an Editor in Actuaries Digital and also on the organising committee of YAPCON 2017.

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  1. FrankAshe says: 5:32 pm, March 21 2017

    Hi Vic­to­ria,
    I’ll make sure I’ll get Paul’s new book. I enjoyed the first one.

    One thing I will take objec­tion to is this: “The actu­ar­i­al pro­fes­sion is all about pre­ci­sion and num­bers.”

    Yes, actu­ar­ies need pre­ci­sion and num­bers, but in the wider world of risk man­age­ment, into which actu­ar­ies are mov­ing, it is impor­tant to deal with the world of impre­ci­sion and the part of the world that can’t be put into num­bers. To do this, the skills of a poet need to be incor­po­rat­ed with the skills of the math­e­mati­cian.

    Frank Ashe

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