How do I love work? Let me count the ways ...

Image of The Boss (McSweeney's Poetry Series)
Author: Victoria Chang
Publisher: McSweeney's (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 64 pages

The business world is often perceived as cold. All about the numbers and the data and the bottom line -- about as far from poems and poetry as one might get.

But some good descriptive imagery has its advantages in dealing with the frustrations of the workplace -- and everything else the economy brings.

Victoria Chang just wrote a new book of poems, called "The Boss." In it, Chang addresses issues with bosses, the economy and life. She says poetry allowed her to channel some of those frustrations into art.

"Everything during the time when I wrote this book, I felt I was losing control," explains Chang. "My dad had this terrible stroke. I had this really challenging boss -- that kind of passive aggressive boss. And that was psychologically damanging. So the book became an exploration of that losing control and hierarchy and how to some extent in all aspects of life we're losing control."

The book doesn't just focus on one kind of boss or feeling, though. "I think that's the complexity of human beings," she says. "That's part of the job of a writer, to understand all aspects of human nature."

Chang offers some tips for channeling your inner poet:

1. See: Sit in front of a big big tree, as big as you can find and just look at it for as long as you can, every small part of it and observe

2. Images: This is a game I play with my kids all the time -- look around you and play "what does that look like?" with everything -- a cellular telephone pole, a necklace of colorful beads (my seven-year-old said a bunch of grapes) to help the metaphorical brain start working

3. Write: Write these images in a notebook and then write a poem based on these images and go where the poem takes you, paying particular attention to strong emotions about something you might feel at the time (anger, happiness, resentment, insecurity, etc.)

And Chang recorded one of her poems for us:

We asked our Twitter and Facebook followers to contribute their own poetry on work and bosses. Here are some of the haikus:

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of The Boss (McSweeney's Poetry Series)
Author: Victoria Chang
Publisher: McSweeney's (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 64 pages
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Carpenter John, deaf as a post; a middle finger he misses the most.


My husband's entries:

You have no window.
You work in a hamster wheel.
Run. Get nowhere. Run.

Esteemed coworkers:
Please just get with it and work.
You're driving me nuts.

Let's have a meeting.
We can talk, we can take notes.
Then we'll meet again.

Copy me on that.
Then I'll copy you on this.
We'll look so busy.

It's your deadline, pal.
I'm taking vacation days.
Next week's bad for me.

Machine crashes again.
Feature: Something you pay for.
Must be a feature.

call, drive and present
meeting cancels, he exhales
report and repeat

another monday
crises, meetings, making plans
each day is unique

customers pay slow,
money's tight vendors call, web
of relationships


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