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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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Pages

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

A Note Pinned to the Door

I resign Sir and I'm walking out right now. Isn’t that
What we ought to do, when the real work is over?
The original labor that makes all the difference, I mean.

And I’m taking with me my shiny T-square. Not the gold watch
And not the drawer full of orders for reproductions. Just
My drafting board and this clear glass jar containing a pound of olives—

Tuscan olives from the land of exile, around Lucca near Gentucca’s,
To sustain me in your absence, (and my absence):
Tokens, to help me remember how the real job was done.

Michael Wolfe
http://www.michaelwolfe.net

One week to know plan
Twenty five years employed
Stress level; priceless

WHAT'S THAT SUCKING SOUND?
You don't talk to me, / And you don't answer email. /Work in a vacuum.

"And shoot us your own / work related Haikus but / keep them short people"

To which I must respond:

Really. Keep them short? / I believe no accident, / happy or otherwise.

After a particularly trying week as a teacher at a Houston area High School, I woke up early that Sunday morning thinking about some students who showed by their speech and actions that: “I don’t care about my education.” This is my considered response:

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because then I have not given myself the chance to succeed.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because it is the first step to success.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because it does not allow me to become a better person.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because then I can become a better person everyday.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because it makes me look and feel BOTH powerless and weak.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because I am strong and BOTH in charge of my life and in control of my future.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because it confirms the worst things that people think about me.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because I respect myself and want respect from others.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because then I am wasting the most valuable thing I have: my life.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because this is my life and I am going to make the most of it.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because all it demonstrates is childishness.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because it demonstrates maturity.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because the person it hurts most is me.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because it allows me help myself grow and reach my goals.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because like a temper tantrum it serves no useful purpose.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because I am in control of my emotions

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because it is negative and self-destructive.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because it positive and constructive.

I will NEVER say and act like: “I don’t care,” because it limits me like a prison cell.
I WILL say and act like: “I care,” because it frees me to soar like an eagle.

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