Well Versed in the Art of Work : How Poetry Can Help Us Make Sense of Nonsense
Organizational Aesthetics Cover Issue Vol. 4(1)


sense making

How to Cite

KnightJ. (2015). Well Versed in the Art of Work : How Poetry Can Help Us Make Sense of Nonsense. Organizational Aesthetics, 4(1), 12-18. Retrieved from https://oa.journals.publicknowledgeproject.org/index.php/oa/article/view/42


A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.

W. H. Auden

The forces driving human behaviour in the workplace often remain below the surface, not explored or discussed. Day to day activity comprises people seeking (or seeking to be seen) to conform to espoused rules, values and performance requirements, while at the same time exhibiting resistance, anger, disruptive and damaging behaviours. How easy is it for us to articulate our feelings of resentment, disempowerment, vulnerability, boredom, disinterest etc. in a situation where we need to "be good"? Is there existing poetry shining a light on the darker side of working life? If so is it being used as data? Could poetry be self-help for workers and for organisations?

This paper explores, in poetry form, the role of poetry in making sense of the "darker" side of organisational life. Given the smorgasbord of existing perspectives on what makes organisations "tick" the poem presents one experience of organisational life while drawing on academic literature spanning some 30+ years.

The poem then provides an argument, supported by reference to literature, for the use of poetry to make sense of organisational complexity, to give people a voice and to develop a deeper understanding of what really drives organisational behaviours and subsequently affects organisational outcomes.

Please note that it has not been possible to follow protocol with regard to referencing, for the sake of the poem. A complete list of references is provided at the end.