Last week, we explored the purpose of poetry and examined three essential questions spurred by Megan Gillespie’s poem “Cheers.” Today, we’re thrilled to feature an interview with author, academic and literary critic Clare Morgan. Clare is the founder and director of Oxford University’s creative writing program and is the author of several books of fiction. Her book What Poetry Brings to Business examines the “deep but unexpected connections between business and poetry.” She recently facilitated a Books@Work session with HR leaders in the UK.
Our blog post earlier this week explored the intersection of poetry and business. Today, we’re thrilled to feature a poem by poet, educator and Books@Work facilitator Megan Gillespie. Megan is Pennsylvania’s 2018 Montgomery County Poet Laureate, and her work has appeared in The Florida Review, New Delta Review and Cimarron Review. Her honors include fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony for the Arts and Lector Writer’s and Performance Art Residency.
She currently works as a writing coach for the Wharton Communication Program, where she prepares students for communication challenges they’ll face as future business leaders. She recently facilitated Books@Work sessions with a group of leaders and staff at a large manufacturing company. As you read Megan’s poem “Cheers,” consider why we are so eager to ascribe meaning and order to the world.
What can business leaders learn from poetry?
The utility of poetry – and of literature and the humanities in general – is under scrutiny on a near daily basis. As our executive director Ann Kowal Smith noted in a recent post, many universities across the country are proposing cuts to their humanities offerings; one University of Wisconsin campus proposed the near-total discontinuation of its English department. If university administrators and faculty struggle to see value in poetry, does it have a place in regular society – let alone the business world?
Happy Friday! We’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month for you to browse and enjoy over Memorial Day weekend.
Most conversations about diversity & inclusion lump the two concepts together – so much so that they become indistinguishable. A recent piece from Big Think, part of a series on D&I sponsored by Amway, stresses the importance of identifying and verbalizing the difference between the two:
“In the workplace, [diversity is] about giving equal opportunity to all individuals, regardless of the social groups they belong to. ‘It’s easy to measure diversity: It’s a simple matter of headcount,’ say Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid in their article in Harvard Business Review.” So how does that relate to inclusion?
Sometimes complex human questions become clearer when we go back to our roots – even our childhood roots. University of Chicago Laboratory School teacher and MacArthur Genius Vivian Paley addressed the universal human experience of feeling excluded after forty years of observing children in nursery school and kindergarten. Despite its unlikely source, Paley’s inclusion rule (and the title of her most popular book), “You can’t say you can’t play,” may be an important reflection for organizational leaders who have learned that hiring a more diverse workforce is only a baby step toward creating a culture of inclusion in which all individuals can flourish.
We aren’t advocating a return to preschool, or even the legislation of human interaction with a set of childhood “rules.” But there are important things to learn from the evolution of human nature – ideas and behaviors that have been hardwired into us since before our earliest sentient moments.
We are thrilled to feature an interview today with Jon Schmitz, the Archivist and Historian for the Chautauqua Institution and a six-time Books@Work participant.
Tell us a little about yourself. What kind of work do you do on a day-to-day basis at Chautauqua?
I am responsible for acquiring, preserving and providing access to the records that document the Chautauqua Institution and Movement. I answer inquiries from the public, assist researchers, support staff and various Institution programs. I offer advice and support regarding archival practice to groups both on and off the grounds. I teach classes in archival practice which are open to the public and oversee educational internships. I also organize a lecture series and speak about Chautauqua’s history at the Institution, in the local area and around the country.
Each month we offer you a chance to read mindfully, using literature to consider your reactions to and assumptions about the world in which we live and work. Through these short texts and accompanying questions, we hope to give you a small taste of Books@Work. Grab a friend, family member or colleague to read, share and discuss together.
A prolific author of novels, nonfiction books, short stories, screenplays and more, Dave Eggers was raised in Lake Forest, Illinois. At age 21, he withdrew from college to care for his 8-year-old brother after losing both parents to cancer, events that are chronicled in his memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His narrative essay “The Man at the River” appeared in Granta Magazine and tells the story of an American tourist in Sudan who is faced with a choice when he’s asked to wade across a river.
As you read “The Man at the River,” consider the many ways we navigate cultural difference and barriers to understanding.
As is my custom, I recently devoured a new podcast from Gimlet Media called The Habitat during a long and un-airconditioned road trip to Florida.
The Habitat follows a simulated mission-to-Mars research project called HI-SEAS. As space travel to Mars becomes more likely, researchers are tasked with perfecting equipment like “the dome,” a semi-portable living structure about the size of a two-car garage that would house six astronauts. But HI-SEAS is designed to test “a far more critical piece of equipment: humans.”
For a year, six “human guinea pigs” agree to spend every waking and sleeping moment together in a dome on a Hawaiian volcano, a stand-in for the red planet. HI-SEAS seeks to determine what these conditions will do to their astronauts. Poring through 200 hours of the crew’s audio diaries, The Habitat host Lyn Levy shadows the experiment from day one. “It’s like the premise of a space age reality show,” she says.
Happy Friday! We’ve compiled our favorite articles and essays from the last month for you to browse and enjoy this weekend.
“I don’t often start essays about leadership with insights from French novelists,” writes Fast Company cofounder and author Bill Taylor in a recent piece for Harvard Business Review, “but in this case it seems appropriate. ‘The real act of discovery,” Marcel Proust wrote, “consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.’”
Too often, Taylor argues, experienced leaders allow prior knowledge and expertise to dictate their ideas and limit innovation. But art can be an important tool to kickstart a more creative form of leadership. Taylor describes a program where police officers look at paintings, sculptures and more, answering the question, “What do you see?”