It’s Poetry at Work Day!

It’s time for a declaration.

Whereas the workplace is not considered
conducive to poetry and its practice,

And whereas the workplace manifests poetry
in all of its aspects, forms, organizations,
hierarchies, and activities,

And whereas the people who work in the workplace,
the people who make the workplace what it is,
have poetry spoken and unspoken within them,

And whereas poetry often articulates
our deepest desires, including the work
we are called to do,

And whereas work speaks to an intrinsic part
of our very selves and souls, an intrinsic part
which is often best articulated in poetry,

Therefore, be it declared that this day,
the fourteenth of January 2014,
and every second Tuesday of January
hereafter be known as Poetry at Work Day,
and be recognized and celebrated,

And be it further declared that Poetry at Work Day
is not confined to one nation, one region, or
one hemisphere but instead is recognized
in all places where work is created
and accomplished by workplace poets.

I wrote the book Poetry at Work because I unexpectedly discovered that the workplace, and the work that happens there, is shot through with poetry.

This didn’t happen early in my career; in fact, it was some three to four years ago, during a particularly bad point in my work. I was sitting in one of those regular weekly meetings, hearing many of the same things you hear repeatedly at regular weekly meetings, and trying not to yawn my boredom. And suddenly I heard poetry like one hears an unexpected but welcome, and familiar, piece of music.

After the meeting, my head almost exploding with what I had heard, I walked back to my office. I looked at the pictures on my walls and realized that each contained a poem about work. My office itself contained a poem about work. The PowerPoint presentation on my computer screen contained a poem about work.

From there, it was a short leap to realize the inherent poetic nature of work and everything connected to it. I had read several books about how poetry might apply and be useful for the workplace, and I had read various poems about work, but never had I read anything that described the poetry naturally contained within work. And this is all work, no matter where it happens—a cubicle, a delivery truck, a police car, a hospital, a department store, a home, a daycare center, an airplane, a military base, a legislature, a school. Even in a regular weekly meeting.

You can find everything you need to know about Poetry at Work Day right here at Tweetspeak Poetry. That includes resource table ideas, a survival kit, printable posters and computer wallpapers (I have a poster on the wall of my office), and even a Poetry at Work Day infographic. (And, of course, there’s the new book, Poetry at Work.)

I encourage you to find the poetry in the work you do, and in the places where you do work. And what makes it an easy task is the fact that the poetry is already there.

If you find that poem or poems, I have an offer for you. Post your poem here in the comments, (or post the link to your poem here) by Friday, January 17, and you may win a free copy of Poetry at Work.

I’m giving away five copies—I’ll select the poems from five poets who submit here. And the winners can receive their book in print form, Kindle form, or Nook form. Next Tuesday, we’ll feature the five poems here at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Find the poetry in your work. Celebrate it. It will open up all kinds of new understandings, and perhaps even new opportunities.


Bonus: A little poetic inspiration for Poetry at Work Day, from Robin-Williams-goes-Apple:

Photo by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Glynn Young, author of the novels Dancing Priest and A Light Shining, and the just-published Poetry at Work (T. S. Poetry Press). 


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  1. says

    Here’s one from my classroom at 8:58 this morning:

    In their neat little rows
    ready to be sown,
    and I am the intellectual agrarian,
    up early to till young minds
    scatter seeds of learning,
    foster fragile buds of thought
    with words wet with encouragement
    and careful criticism,
    watching with a sense of pride as
    my classroom grows green,
    til summer scatters them again
    to the world.

  2. says

    I’m all UP in this Poetry at Work Day!! WOO! HOO! Because I’m doin’ my job. at work. and it’s poetry. also my job.
    Be jealous cubicle dwellers! I do this all the time!! AHAHAHA… Oh, and I’m sitting in a recliner. Right now. Eating an apple.

    My youngest is home from school being fake-sick, so … let’s be honest, he’s harshing on my mellow a bit.

    But yeah, Poetry at Work. ALL DAY. woot!

  3. says

    Here’s one I wrote yesterday so I could have it up on my office door today:

    First grade school work hangs
    Near stacks of memos, contracts.
    I adjust my chair and read.

  4. says

    I read aloud a poem at work today! And all day long when I passed my colleagues in the corridors they said, “Happy Poetry at work day!” Next year? We might have choreography :).

    Thanks for the inspiration, Glynn. Inpatient healthcare is a tough place to ask folks to slow down and listen, but today, I saw a few good reasons to keep asking.

  5. says

    Glynn, I read the speechwriting chapter last night and couldn’t for the life of me think of one I could ‘rewrite’ as a poem. Until. Until just now—I read a book the the Kindergartners about Martin Luther King and we talked about skin color and how it doesn’t matter at all–’cause we’re “all the same, Mrs. Collins.”
    Yes we are.

    My little poem:
    I have a dream (he did)
    that one day in Alabama (and the other 49)
    little black boys and black girls
    (and brown, and tan, and pink and….)
    will join hands (
    and show me theirs with pride)
    with little white boys and white girls
    as sisters and brothers.
    (’cause we’re all the same, dontcha know?)
    He had a dream.
    It still lives.

  6. says

    I jotted this one in my notebook while observing how my office decorations have changed this year… :)

    I once had an office
    covered in postcards,
    concert posters,
    and one acrylic award
    for some small role
    in a big achievement
    reminding me
    there are no small things.

    Now there’s a pencil scrawl
    of Stick-Me and Stick-Niece
    and little hearts
    like fireworks
    and a framed photo
    of a new family of two
    reminding me
    there are no small things.

  7. says

    I am at home today, not working, but I work from home the last few years, so I am where I am most days. Today I’m busy submitting my Nephew’s resume to HP where I work. He became unemployed six months ago, I learned at Christmas. So, Glynn, your chapter on the Poetry of Unemployment is reverberating in my head right now. I retire next year and in my years I’ve had a few of “the packages” once I hit 40. My nephew is not a poet, so today I will write a poem in his honor to celebrate Poetry at Work Day. I think HP may have a job for him. HP encourages us to start an internal blog and I am trying to get approval to start a Poetry At Work Blog, encouraging the reading of your book and posting at least several poems a week to hopefully inspire. In reading your book, I realize we live in poetry most of the time and it is our job to shine a light on it as you have done.

  8. says

    Do prose poems count?

    You Shall Know Them by Their Ringtones

    Someone has crickets. Someone has a honky-tonk piano. Someone used to have the theme from “The Magnificent Seven.” Denise, who runs the pet food ministry at her church, has barking dogs. Michael, the TV critic, who does not like change, has the classic telephone. Katie, who has the gift of hospitality, has different sounds for different callers. Paul, the quietest among us, has an ascending chromatic scale on the xylophone, volume low. Randal, a Catholic-raised unbeliever who is quick to grab the religion stories, has the classic telephone. Ellis, the Buddhist, has a single chime that sounds clear across the room. Rachel, who used to be the society section editor and left for a nonprofit and came back to be the business editor, has the classic telephone. Doug, the head page designer, who talks sports on Monday mornings and who is sometimes in charge of his young grandson, used to have the Razorbacks fight song, but now he has the “Dive! Dive!” submarine alarm sound because it’s louder and less easy to tune out. When he was going through his divorce, Jay had “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.”

  9. says

    What drove that first ape
    to hollow the femur
    and drill the finger
    holes and blow
    breath thru
    that remnant of death,
    the flute of beauty.

    Did she think any breath
    might be her last.

    Do you suppose a drowning
    person pays attention
    to her/his breathing?

    Is there a note, a scream
    from a whack on the ass?
    Or is it, like an echo,
    one repeated breath
    since the first?


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