Sunday, 14 April 2013

David Whyte: The workplace poet and loaves and fishes

No celebration of poetry in the workplace can be complete without including David Whyte. He has decades of experience of bringing emotion into the workplace - but importantly, does this with respect  dignity and the understanding of employee and organisational processes.  I wasn't quite sure which of his stunning pieces to incidentalnclude in this blog. In the end I have chosen the one I use the most.  

David Whyte shares his poetry via his website. It's a great resource.  You may find this is an interview by Maria Seddio with David Whyte useful background.. I like it because it probes the why he does what he does and gives an insight into his caution and delicateness in bringing poetry to the workplace. [PDF]

Loaves and Fishes
This is not
the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.
Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.
This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.
People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
  -- David Whyte
      from The House of Belonging 
     ©1996 Many Rivers Press

How do I use this in the workplace?

This is useful for provoking deeper discussion about social movement and language. How one word, one short sentence, once moment - can create a shift in mindsets of others.  It's also about the difference between information and words that move people.  A good exercise with a group using this poem is to consider their own language and they own use of words. What are they commonly using? What evidence do they have of hyperbole and how effective is this?

The poem is not as straightforward as it looks and some people may read into it and feel quite different perspectives from others. It's important to listen to and respect these differences.

No comments: