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Why Managers Should Hire Poets


Be of good cheer, ye MFA students who wish to support your poetry habit with a “real” job: One business expert, as least, thinks companies should hire you first.

“Business leaders live in multifaceted, dynamic environments. Their challenge is to take that chaos and make it meaningful and understandable,” writes John Coleman at the Harvard Business Review. “Reading and writing poetry can exercise that capacity, improving one’s ability to better conceptualize the world and communicate it — through presentations or writing — to others.”

Poetry — both creating it and appreciating it — develops empathy and creativity, and helps infuse life with meaning, Coleman says. All of which is helpful for the modern manager, whose burden it is to infuse the daily grind with “wonder and purpose.”

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There’s a historical precedent for poets in business, Coleman notes: T.S. Eliot worked at Lloyd’s of London for a decade, and Wallace Stevens, famously turned down a gig at Harvard to keep his job as Vice President of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company.

After all, as Wallace Stevens himself once observed, “Money is a kind of poetry.”

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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