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Tag Archives: a roome of one’s own

As we hurtle toward the winter solstice…why poets excel at business

Here is a wonderful Rockwell Kent painting, and a photo of my Maine coon cat George contemplating the snow outside.

Recently Portland Poet Laureate Marcia Brown sent out a link to an article by John Coleman in, of all places, the Harvard Business Review, in the issue of 10/27/2012.  It addresses the question of why poets make good business employees and managers.  Coleman asserts that poets can, among other skills, simplify the complex, develop empathy, and “infuse life with beauty and meaning.”  I love this idea and agree with it.  I’m one of those not-so-rare people with  “mixed” academic training in lit, writing and law (there are far more lawyer/poets around than you might think). I worked in the corporate world for about 20 years and found it rewarding in many ways.  I like to think that one can balance practicality with creativity, and that when you cross into another realm, one can be enriched by it, because there is much to learn.

Kent painting snowIMG_0529

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Solitude, society and writing

books,time photo
Recently I reread May Sarton’s wonderful JOURNAL OF A SOLITUDE. I have a cheap old paperback of this book but I treasure it since Ms. Sarton signed it for me. Many years ago (early 1980s) I went to hear her read poetry in Boston and waited in line to get this signature, feeling very starstruck. I’ve lived alone for about 90 percent of my adult life, and I’m good at it. People who don’t like too much alone time tend to assume that solitary = lonely, but that’s not true. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gregarious and sociable to a degree. I love my friends and family, but I also love living by myself for many reasons, not least of which is peaceful time to read and write. Many writers say that their ideas come to them in moments away from the clash (and flash and beep) of modern life. Some words from Sarton:

I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose–to find out what I think, to know where I stand. ..I hardly ever sit still without being haunted by the “undone” and the “unsent.” ..it is the effort of pushing away the lives and needs of others before I can come to the work with any freshness and zest.

…the poem is primarily a dialogue with the self and the novel a dialogue with others. They come from entirely different modes of being. I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something and poems to find out what I felt about something.

Writers may not always need a “room of one’s own”, as Virginia Woolf famously described what women should have. But we do need to carve out a measure of solitude to take in others’ writing, to make room for ideas to come, and to do our own writing.