The Poet Meets Corporate America

Friday, October 7, 2011

I live, as many of you know, this odd cross-over life.  A corporate communicator by day.  A writer of fiction, memoir, poetry by night.  A reader in those sacred hours in between.  On rare occasions the many lives meet.  A client will tell me about a book she is reading, say, or another will ask if I might bring some poetry to the job—write a script for an animation, write copy for a new brand, bring the sound of a lyric to a talk that must be given, do something different. I am grateful for those clients. Grateful for their trust.

I gravitate toward magazine stories about middle grounds, and I am especially intrigued by tales that tie the corporate to the poetic.  That happens in John Colapinto's October 3 New Yorker piece titled "Famous Names."  The article takes a look the fascinating world of brand naming—who does it, how it gets it done, what sounds mean, what customers see (and hear).

Tucked into the piece is this little nugget about 1957, the Ford Motor Company, and poet Marianne Moore.  Ford was seeking a name for "the first affordable automobile."  He turned to many, including Moore.  He asked her, according to Colapinto's story, for a name that would "convey, through association or other conjuration, some visceral feeling of elegance, fleetness, advanced features and design."

Moore's responses probably do not bode well for a poet at work in corporate America (perhaps I shouldn't tell clients about my secret second life).  Still, I find them dear and quaint, and share them with you here:

Intelligent Bullet
Utopian Turtletop
Bullet Cloisone
Mongoose Civique
Andante con Moto


Serena said...

This is interesting. I know that there are poets who have worked as attorneys, reporters, in accounting offices, etc. So they are in the corporate world...but maybe they only work on poetry in secret...:)

Lilian Nattel said...

I heard a story many years ago about a chartered accountant (or maybe it was a CPA--I'm not sure of the country) who was a senior partner. This is how he announced his retirement. One morning everyone in the firm who came to work discovered his office shelves were wall to wall poetry books.

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