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The poetry of business
by Louise Jolly| Brighton, UK
Monday, 31 October 2011
tags: clients & brands, culture, europe, making sense
If you're searching for the sacred springs of poetic inspiration, your first port of call wouldn’t usually be KPMG, Halliburton or Pot Noodle.
But copywriter Nick Asbury has shown that poetry – hovering between the intended and the unintended – abounds in corporate and brand discourse. He's created a technique, Corpoetics, which involves replicating extracts from websites and business publications, and re-arranging them on the page to draw out their poetic potential.
Here’s an example of Corpoetics in practice:
I am strong.
I am vibrant.
I am committed to a vision.
I am tremendous.
I am quality.
I will lead people to excellence.
I am delighted.
I am respected.
I am very greatly valued.
What am I?
I am the best.
While gently poking fun at the pretensions of corporate language, Corpoetics isn’t meant to be primarily critical. In fact, it’s the very subtlety of the technique that offers semioticians an interesting perspective.
These poems take existing signs and get us reading them differently, thanks to a minimal act of reframing. It shows that critical thought needn’t always look beyond the surface of the sign to find a hidden truth beneath. Sometimes all it needs to do is stay with the signifier – playing with surface forms to draw out a wider range of meaning.
‘Halliburton’, for instance, reveals a desolation that might not have come through on a conventional reading:
We operate in broad array,
starting with production –
finally to infrastructure
· Take the text from the ‘about us’ page of any corporate website
· Rearrange the words into a poem
· You don’t have to use all the words
· You can use the same word twice
· No fragments or anagrams of words
· Punctuation can be added as necessary
To read more about Corpoetics, and order a copy of Nick's book, visit his website here.