The presumption in our culture is that poetry and business are mutually incompatible. The separation of the two spheres suits those who sit comfortably with poetry as it is, and with business as it is. Within both literary communities and corporate campuses, gatekeepers protect the status quo.
Neither poetry nor business are served well, however, by those who sit comfortably with the way things are.
Twenty one years ago, poet David Whyte shared a book called The Heart Aroused, an exploration of “poetry and the preservation of the soul in corporate America”. The book was inspired by an essay by Dana Gioia, warning that poetry had become imprisoned in an “intellectual ghetto”. That essay was later accompanied by another, titled Business and Poetry, in which Gioia wrote that, “If our poetry recognizes business at all, it has reduced this enormous and diverse national enterprise into a few outdated images inherited from the movies”.
In The Heart Aroused, Whyte advised that both poetry and business are impoverished from their habitual separation. “The poet needs the practicalities of making a living,” he wrote, “to test and temper the lyricism of insight and observation,” while advising that, “The corporation needs the poet’s insight and powers of attention in order to weave the inner world of soul and creativity with the outer world of form and matter.”
Despite the eloquence of Whyte and Gioia, few who work in either business or verse have followed their examples. Poetry and Business seeks to continue their pilgrimage toward the “swirling natural boundary where human beings have always lived uneasily,” where executives and seers may trade with a common currency.
As a journal, Poetry and Business is devoted to poems and essays that explore the borderlands where citizens of these two worlds may mingle. The journal will feature the work of poets curious about the unexplored metaphors of business life, as well as corporate professionals who seek to introduce an element of the transcendent into their organizations.
The second volume of Poetry and Business will be released in print on Groundhog’s Day in 2017. Submissions are currently being accepted.