Placing Poetry at the Heart of Business

A diverse group of three laughing entrepreneurs with laptops in a meeting.
Photo: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.

One lesson reinforced over the past two years has been the necessity of good leadership. Without it, struggling staff will continue to struggle, sense of belonging will falter and staff retention will suffer and absences rise.

West Point tutors their cadets in poetry to instil the principles of ethical, insightful, far-sighted decision-making. To help them respond to changing, chaotic events in a practical, moral and far-sighted manner.

Do you have a Trust Gap? Do your clients and customers have the same perspective on your actions as your board and executives.

Developing strategy and leadership through poetry can help you address the trust gap, by developing new and different insights in your decision-makers. Working through poetry opens up new avenues of investigation and analysis which can shift perspectives and give new nuance to situations.

The improvements in understanding which poetry bring give valuable new perspectives on difficult issues, improve communication, empathy and analytical skills.

They strengthen the ability to proceed in the face of uncertainty and to adapt to foreign and unforeseen circumstances. Poetry makes better leaders – better leadership and better performance.

To a mouse, or humankind

Robert Burns Live
Pictured: Actor Christopher Tait is Scotland’s leading performer of Robert Burns poetry. Photographed at Stirling Castle.
Photo: Robertburnslive, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion

Has broken Nature’s social union,

An’ justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle,

At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,

An’ fellow-mortal!

To a Mouse

Is Robert Burns’ ode to a mouse whose home his ploughing has disturbed, a pean for his regret for the damage he has caused to the future of the mouse? Or is it a grim portent of the catastrophic harm mankind would wreak upon the planet, the atmosphere, animals, fish and almost every other creature existing on Earth?

Written in 1875, who can tell what he meant? Was it simply his understanding and empathy that his unthinking action had caused great harm to his fellow mortal, as winter’s hardships approached? Or in some part of his mind did you get a glimpse into the future, a feeling of the devastation that could be wrought.

Was it a coded guide to stockbrokers – BUY oil for the first 200 years, but sell hard once the lawsuits start winning? Was it a warning to humankind that the result of prolonged disruption will eventually cause the death of all?

Poetry reveals truths. It reveals hitherto unvoiced concerns, to its creator, and to those who would hear what it has to say. There’s no need to be a great poet to reveal the truth, only that you be in the presence of those who would facilitate its telling.

As Camena I would always recommend to our clients, start a poetry club. Provide a space in which people can publish or perform their poems. And read them, or listen, because you will be extraordinarily glad you did.

You’ll find out things about your organisation you would never otherwise know

You’ll find out things about your organisation you need to know.

Of course, should you buy our Carmenta course, ‘from creation to performance’, you can attend the finale yourself and hear with your own ears.

Foundational development

Scrabble tiles stacked in a pyramid spelling out "foundation"
Photo: Brett Jordan, Unsplash

Memorising a poem by heart is a foundational development tool, producing a broad range of benefits and a depth of impact far beyond anything else, bar prolonged study or practice.

Ezra Pound, Robert Graves, Edwin Muir, Kathleen Raine, William Everson, Robert Bly, Les Murray, Wendell Berry, and—to name one non-poet—Camille Paglia; all advocated for poetry’s primal role in human development, and that it’s use as a development tool was far more valuable for people than examining them on it, especially under a measurement-based system of assessment.

Unfortunately, in modern education memorising poetry has been discarded and replaced with a destructive dissection and classification of poetry, depriving growing adults of its benefits, and turning them away from the array of tools it provides.

When based around knowledge of a poem, and centred around the participants’ own creations, mentored through the expert guidance of our teaching artists; the benefits are multiplied in many ways.

Part of that will be a deeper understanding of the areas they have focused on in the poem they wrote. Part will be a deeper understanding of themselves. Do it in teams and part will be a far deeper understanding of the people around them.

Part will be in communication

Some will be in accomplishment

Much will be in connection.

What is a teaching artist?

Photo of Camena Co-Founder/Director and Lead Tutor Anita Govan performing.
Pictured: Anita Govan — Camena Co-Founder/Director and Lead Tutor.
Photo: courtesy Anita Govan.

A Teaching Artist is an artist at the forefront of their field, whose deep knowledge of their discipline and an innate understanding of people and creativity allow them to facilitate extraordinary development and learning in their participants.

Like the fabled alchemist, Teaching Artists facilitate change and enable transformation. They enable participants to create meaningful work through the exploration of difficult and sometimes emotional issues in a safe, nurturing environment.

Teaching Artists create the conditions under which tremendous growth, development and connection can take place. Incredible transformation can take place over the duration of course, in understanding, in emotional maturity or in ability.

Their gentle, expert guidance encourages participants along a journey of exploration and investigation. Simple, fun and intriguing exercises generate ideas, which are developed into pieces of work, refined, revealed and reflected upon in a supportive, nurturing atmosphere.

Working with a great teaching artist gives the experience of being an artist, making the multitude of invisible decisions made by artists.

They will discover the creation of art is, like life; not made up of giant leaps but comprising series after series of small but significant steps.

You will understand the shared experience of the process builds wellbeing, fosters a sense of belonging, creates camaraderie and common understanding. 

You will discover the abilities your employees develop and hone through the programme directly benefits their performance, their teamwork, and their development as people and as employees.

Lessons Learned Through Poetry Last A Lifetime

Person reading a business book.
Photo: Austin Distel, Unsplash

Learning through poetry enables more effective learning and collation of new knowledge, and it facilitates more efficient and effective use of learned knowledge and experience.

Neurons created through poetry are larger than normal, like those created by music. -it’s why poem and music live with us in ways nothing else does. Rhythm, rhyme, alliteration and other linguistic devices, combine to create long-lasting brain systems which hold memories and knowledge.

The emotional significance of poetry, the way in which it can elicit hidden, niggling anxieties and unvoiced emotions combines with the creative connections made through multi-layered meaning, makes connections in the mind. It makes a smarter,  more-interconnected and resilient mind, and smarter, more interconnected  and resilient teams.

Working through poetry means benefits are profound, significantly improve performance and permanent. Just like you still remember nursery rhymes from your childhood, the benefits which result from exploration, expression and reflection through poetry last a lifetime.