William Carlos Williams (1883 – 1963) was a doctor in Rutherford, New Jersey. He was also a poet. Not only did he see no incongruity between the practice of medicine and writing poetry, he often used his experiences as doctor as subjects for poems. Consider this one:
By William Carlos Williams
They call me and I go.
It is a frozen road
past midnight, a dust
of snow caught
in the rigid wheeltracks.
The door opens.
I smile, enter and
shake off the cold.
Here is a great woman
on her side in the bed.
She is sick,
to give birth to
a tenth child. Joy! Joy!
Night is a room
darkened for lovers,
through the jalousies the sun
has sent one golden needle!
I pick the hair from her eyes
and watch her misery
Here at Tweetspeak Poetry, we think that if it was good enough for Williams, Walt Whitman (patent office), Wallace Stevens (insurance executive), T.S. Eliot (banker), Geoffrey Chaucer (diplomat), Marianne Moore (library assistant), Dana Gioia (corporate beverage division), Robert Burns and Wendell Berry (farmers), and countless others, then the idea of poetry at work can work for the rest of us.
We believe there is poetry to be found in the workplace. We’ve found it ourselves. I’ve even written a poem about work meetings and conferences, and if you can write about meetings you can write about anything. And we’ve solicited poems about work spaces.
Work happens everywhere. So does poetry. It’s time to put the two together and see what happens.
We’re declaring that Tuesday, January 15, 2013 is the first Poetry at Work Day™.
How might we celebrate Poetry at Work Day?
Read a favorite poem to your co-workers or employees.
Write a poem about your work space.
Have your students write a poem for a class assignment.
Invite a local poet to speak in your workplace.
Have a break time for poetry—five minutes to read a poem.
Print and leave poems on the tables in the cafeteria at work.
Volunteer to read a poem at your child’s school.
Create a special-edition employee newsletter on the intranet site, with interviews with employees about their favorite poems, original work-related poems by employees, and fun facts about poets.
Sponsor a poetry-themed potluck luncheon between the hours of noon and 2:00 p.m., and include a drawing for a poetry-related prize.
And start thinking about all the ways you can connect poetry and work. Getting ready for work. Commuting. Teaching the first class or subject of the day. Chasing after two-year-olds across the kitchen. Servicing the furnace for winter.
Poetry is all around us. And it’s hard at work.
Buy a year of happy work mornings today, just $2.99. In November we’re exploring the theme Surrealism.
Now you can easily follow our new Poetry at Work posts. Add one of our Poetry at Work badges to your blog or website today!
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- A Novel About Hughes and Plath: “Your Story, My Story” by Connie Palmen - March 30, 2021