poems of mass destruction

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UK Poet laureate,   the official poet of the  United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.   I’m not clear on  the job description with this particular  position.   The published  income is a token  5,000  stlg per annum for 10yrs, a substantial increase on the prior poet’s stipend of 100 stlg  with a vat of wine per annum for life.  

Here in North America there has been some controversey over the indistinct job description and creative activities  of some US City poet laureates.   It’s a tricky job, in 2003, the Canadian poet Laurete accused American poets of producing “poems of mass destruction“, promoting fear.  Poems of mass destruction, like killer jokes (first broadcast in Canada) should not be laughed at.  Ottowa  is currently  advertising,  ‘wanted’,  for the  next Canadian poet Laureate (a 2 yr post).

I wonder whether other large corporations,   other than Nations,   States and Cities, recruit poet laureates?   If Microsoft had a position for a corporate poet laureate  what might the  job description include?   Perhaps producing virus  destroying,    secure ,  patched and automatically updated poems.  

Microsoft branded sales booth in 'frys' store,  Kent, WA


rate wendys scribble

4 bits of lovely banter on “poems of mass destruction”

  1. A.F. Harrold writes:

    Yes, companies like Microsoft often do have – what must be the equivalent of poets laureate – poets in residence.

    The role of a poet in laureate, or of any other sort of artist in residence, is to create work from the environment they’re in, as a reaction to what’s going on – from an outsider’s point of view. The artist is that slightly detached, objective creature who looks at things with a different eye.

    Of course different artists in residence work in different ways. I have a friend who’s a meteorologist and they have some sort of artist working with them who’s making music out of their raw data. Other artists will try to get the workers writing, with a series of involving workshops – which might be nice – although I was talking to another friend, a poet, who’d been in prison recently and had quite an unfruitful session so far as writing poems went with the inmates, but very interesting in other ways.

    Havinga quick flick through a Arts Council produced booklet from one of myshelves, in 2001 there were Artists in Residence at: School of Humanities and the School of Health Care at Oxford Brookes University; Virgin cross-country trains; Southern Daily Echo, Southhampton; refugee communities in Reading; River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames; BBC Southern Counties Radio; Wales & West Passenger Trains; Wiltshire Heritage Museum, Devizes; Marsh Harrier Pub, Cowley, Oxford; BBC Radio Solent; Snackattack sandwich bar, Winchester; Home Office Holding Centre Haslar in partnership with the Asian Languages Collection at Gosport Library; The Point Dance & Arts Centre, Eastleigh; on Southampton Common at the Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre; Bucks Free Press, High Wycombe; BBC Radio Oxford; Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre, West Berkshire.

    Why do poets do it? It helps fill the time, and someone pays you. Those are good things. Does anyone get anything out of it at the end of the day? Well, I guess you can ask that about any artwork.

    Sorry this comment’s a bit long…




  2. Kate writes:

    Schrödinger’s poet? Can a poet be resident in 2 places at the same time, a sandwich bar in Winchester and a rowing museum in Henley?



  3. A.F. Harrold writes:

    If you sign the contracts you could be P-in-R at as many places as you like – it’s an easy gig really, being a poet, because you can do all the actual (writing) work at home if you like, of an evening – it doesn’t need to be performed in situ. So you can spend the morning at the Rowing Museum (soaking up atmosphere, talking to the curator, sitting in boats), pop to the sandwich shop for lunch (examine the menu, look at the customers, eat), go to the pictures in the afternoon (watch the film, marvel at the ticket price)… and then let all you impressions and thoughts mull for a few hours, and sit down in the evening and toss off three poems, one about each place you visited and then the next morning go and cash your big cheque from the Arts Council and feel good about having captured the experiences of common people (those with proper jobs) in art that they’ll probably never get round to reading, either on their staff room noticeboard or in their monthly staff newsletter or in the minutes of the AGM.

    Ah, satisfaction. Another job well done…




  4. :: Wendy :: writes:

    The UK has invested in leisure at a government department level with the
    Department for culture media and sport I’m not sure how things work in the US. Whether they have an Arts council equivalent or something else…    ….canteens, and unread noticeboards abound :-) 




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