The Poetry of Business Life (Paperback)

An Anthology

By Ralph Windle (Editor)

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 9781881052593, 182pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 1994



Love, death, religion, relationships-these subjects typically inspire collections of poetry. But business? Most people think of business and poetry as two separate and incompatible areas of life.
In February 1991, Alan Farnham expressed this common belief when he wrote in Fortune Magazine, "Not many people in business feel an urge to write verse about their work." Challenged by this statement, Ralph Windle began a three-year search for the poetry of business life-and found a profusion of verse exploring all aspects of business.
The author's research revealed that not only is there a large body of business poetry in existence today, but business has been the subject of poems since the invention of the written word. The poems in this collection range from early "agribusiness" to the ever-present entrepreneur, merchant, banker, and-with the coming of the industrial age-the worker and manager; right up to twentieth-century concerns with global travel, technology, and the complexities of office life. Included are the works of more than seventy poets, and twice that many pieces. Young, unpublished "business poets" rub elbows with widely published contemporary writers such as James Autry, Harry Newman, and Dana Gioia, as well as some of the most distinguished names in poetic literature-including Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tennyson, and Kipling.
With poems that cover a wide variety of topics and professions-from David Alpaugh's "A California Adman Celebrates His Art" to Richard Ellis Roberts' "Overheard at the Literary Party"; from Constance Alexander's "Outplacement Blues" to Bertie Ramsbottom's "Death By Merger"-this anthology offers something for every reader.
In an age when most people spend the majority of their waking lives involved in some kind of business, it seems natural that poetry, which is the essence of human emotional records, would be affected by business concerns. Business, writes the author, "now touches all our lives and consumes, for ever growing numbers of us, our work, time, energies and passions. Yet few, it is supposed, could find inspiration in its banalities." The size and scope of The Poetry of Business Life easily prove this supposition wrong. Many contemporary business people write verse about their experiences-serious and humorous-as they seek an outlet for their creativity. Business people and their organizations mutually gain from this expression by sending signals to the world that human sensitivities are highly compatible with effective business performance. Humor, insight, sadness, wisdom, and anger are all represented in this unique collection and offer a dynamic, living picture to all people in organizations, their families, and the wider professions as well. Business speech-writers, too, will find in it a rich treasure-trove of choice quotations.

About the Author

Ralph Windle is the editor of The Poetry of Business Life, as well as the author of Boardroom Ballads and The Bottom Line, and co-editor (with William Keyser) of Public Enterprises in the EEC. His poetry has appeared in various international publications, including the Harvard Business Review and The Financial Times, under the pen name Bertie Ramsbottom. Formerly chief executive of the biscuit division and board director of Nabisco, UK, Windle now acts as an independent business consultant to boards and senior management of multi-divisional and international companies in Europe and the U.S. He is a Founder Fellow of Templeton College, Oxford (Oxford Centre for Management Studies) and serves as a visiting lecturer in business strategy at Oxford and at other universities in Europe and the U.S. Find out more at