Found in my email this morning from poets.org:
For Immediate Release
Launch of Mobile Poetry Archive Leads to "April Madness"
April 1, 2008—When the Academy of American Poets announced the launch of a mobile version of their poetry archive in March, no one could have predicted that poetry would become the concern of Fortune 500 companies across the nation. But this is just what is happening, says Rich Richardson, CEO of Tercet, a Duluth-based import export firm.
"It started in a very benign way with an all-company email," Richardson says. "Our comptroller forwarded 'Birches' by Robert Frost. This poem touched many of our employees, leading several to spend their work hours looking for poems on Poets.org."
But this was only the beginning, says Richardson. "Once they had a taste for lines like 'They click upon themselves/As the breeze rises,' there was no stopping them."
Richardson says he began using SmartFilter, a tool for blocking websites, to combat his employees' Poets.org usage. "Unfortunately, this did not keep them from getting their poetry fix on their mobile devices," says Richardson. Poets.org's archive of 2,500 poems, biographies of poets, and essays about poetry became accessible on handheld devices including the iPhone last March.
Tercet's CFO, Abby Abramson, says the widespread internet searches for poems during business hours will not be tolerated beyond April, otherwise known as National Poetry Month. "Despite the obvious personal benefits of reading poetry, we can't condone something that decreases productivity," Abramson says. Abramson estimates that employee interest in poetry could cost the company $2.2 million in lost revenue by the end of the fiscal year, a significant financial blow for Tercet.
"Printing out Elizabeth Bishop's poem 'The Moose' and posting it in the cafeteria is fine. Reciting 'The Moose' to your spouse on the phone during work hours then using Poets.org to find more poems about animals is an abuse of our employee policy," says Abramson.
Abramson declined to comment if this use of Elizabeth Bishop's poem had actually occurred.
Tree Swenson, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, sympathizes with the concerns of Tercet's management, but her empathy lies with the poetry readers at the company. "We believe that poetry expands the possibilities of daily life, as imagination alters reality,” says Swenson. "If that possibility is blocked, you may have a revolution on your hands," she says.
That revolution may come during National Poetry Month, when the Academy of Amercian Poets launches the first national celebration of Poem In Your Pocket Day.
"Poetry readers across the country will be carrying a poem in their pocket and sharing it with co-workers on April 17," says Swenson. "I would hate to hear that Tercet's workers were being penalized for acknowledging those 'unacknowledged legislators of the world,' our poets," Swenson says.
Happy April Fool's Day.
Obviously a spoof press release, but what if this were true? What if you were really blocked from reading your favorite poets on your iPhone or iPod during work hours?
What if your poetry and prose were consistently ignored by the literary community?
What if you were banned from writing and poetry forums because your viewpoints did not mesh with that of the establish literary community?
That last bit is all too true.
Another thing: if consumers were enthralled with poetry as much as they adore Britney, Paris, and Lindsay scandals and sporting events, you had better believe your employer would have a policy in place regarding downloading your favorite poets during working hours.
Isn't it a good thing that most people feel that modern poetry totally sucks?
Happy April Fool's Day!
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