Poetry holds a wide appeal across society and surprisingly, in the workplace too.
Millennials are turning to poetry to answer deep philosophical questions and as they become the dominant generation in the workplace, I think it justifies putting poetry on display at their place of work.
During the pandemic, a paper was written about the benefits of poetry by medical sociologists to manage anxiety, something many of us can relate to.
Poetry, it appears, is food for the soul.
Poems in the Office
This is a simple idea and easy to implement. I called it ‘Poems in the Office’. You can too.
What has poetry to do with knowledge-sharing in the workplace?
I was able to use the poetry network as a way to connect across the organisation on work-related issues. When people left the organisation, they passed the baton to a like-minded colleague. I have never seen such loyalty in their desire to keep the poetry initiate live.
Why choose poetry?
As knowledge manager, I was looking for something that would reach people across the organisation. It had to be simple to implement, low key, easy to maintain, would entertain and inform, and still be professional. Ideally it would be a stress-reliever and not work-related.
I was inspired by ‘Poems on the Underground‘, which has been running for over 30 years on the London Underground. I noticed that when reading a short poem on the Tube, I had to really focus and sometimes I needed to re-read them to grasp the meaning. And yet I never missed my stop. This got me wondering if this idea might work in the office environment.
Also the language of poetry is generally succinct and to my mind, of a higher standard than every day prose.
How I did it
I read in a profile of one of my colleagues, Ramona Herdman, that she was a published poet. I contacted her and we agreed to select a couple of poems each month, circulate them by email to a few people who were known to be interested in the arts, and if that worked, ask them to print the poems and place them in strategic places around the office, where people were bound to see them – by the photocopier and in the kitchen.
Ramona chose a selection of poems, some funny, some sad. On the newer poems she sought permission to avoid any copyright issues and in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, she selected one poem each month on The Great War. I was the one who designed the posters with the poems and circulated them.
The poems were well-received and the list of people who wanted to be involved grew. People began to suggest poems that they loved. The email group grew to over 40 people from every level across the organisation, in different locations and from other organisations too.
Poems you might like
On Twitter, check out
- @RamonaHerdman to see the poetry that is capturing her attention. Here’s one of her own:
- @HerbieHerb for micro-poems
On YouTube, check out
- Sekou Andrews: The Awesome Anthem (9 minutes)
- Akala: Sonnet XVIII: Shakespeare and Hip Hop (1 minute), Comedy, Tragedy, History (3 minutes)
- Gary Turk: Look Up (5 minutes)
World War One 1914-1918
- Adelstrop by Edward Thomas (1878-1917), as read by Richard Burton (1 minute)