On poetry

I had a coffee and a chat with Matt Moore last week and he told me about his poetry project. He has been blogging about it recently but this post is the one I want to think about today.

When I was at high school my favourite subject was English. Naturally, this education included novels, plays and poetry. However, poetry never seemed to really take off for me, although I quite liked haiku because of it’s simplicity and structure. Since then, my appreciation of poetry has improved and I have the odd book of poetry at home that I sometimes bring out in the company of a red wine. But poetry is not my naturally preferred communication style or art form.

What Matt had reminded me about poetry, however, was two things:

1) Poetry is a creative process and is therefore both innovative and personal.

2) Poetry works when there is an emotional connection (I like the line from Woody Allen’s movie, Manhattan: “the whole purpose of art is to put you in touch with feelings you never knew you had”).

In thinking about professional business writing there is a clear need to “connect” when we communicate with people. We may not have the same emotional impact as the works of Sylvia Plath or e. e. cummings, but we need to ensure that what we write has meaning for the person or people likely to read it. For example, if people come to a website to get specific information, then make that information easy to find and relevant for the specific task. Your audience wants answers quickly and efficiently – the emotional connection will come with a satisfied customer or the nurturing of the customer relationship.

Storytelling and narrative are communication methods that seek to add personal meaning and context to communication. The business narrative session I attended last year with Anecdote demonstrated how a collection of workplace stories had clear and resounding messages that might not otherwise have been captured or communicated.

Matt is clearly keeping his audience in mind by working out ways to write meaningful poetry for a person he knows nothing about. He says he has some techniques up his sleeve so we will need to watch his blog to see what is revealed.

Poetry may not be the preferred mode of communication in the business environment, but being creative and aware of the needs of your audience will help you write useful and meaningful content.

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One response to “On poetry

  1. Mate – I love the Woody Allen quote. That’s exactly what this stuff is all about…

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