Your poetical responses to this week’s challenge suggest that for the most part you regard your mentors with a good deal more fondness than your bosses.
a coach takes you there — a mentor shows you how to read maps [David Dayson] a mentor never tells you where to go — but shows the way [David Dayson]
There was an occasional wry or cheeky response
a mentor enables you to think — inside the box [David Dayson]
but most were quite adulatory. Homage is characteristically a fulsome response, and makes for difficult poetic material. We gain perhaps a bit more appreciation for those Greek and Latin odists whose fame resides on just such compositions. For us, the consequence has been a somewhat slender range of response, as evidenced in our selections. All our shortlisted poems are somewhat more prosaic than poetic, more a listing of attributes than a courting of allusions. Nevertheless, they are not without their salient points.
Our third place selection considers the term itself, and compares it with its manifestation:
my ‘mentors’: the word prefigures their rocklike stance, that distant skyline [Sarah Leavesley]
Is this hyperbole intended as praise, or is there a trace of snark to be found here? Perhaps the quotation marks are the indicators of intent. If you were this poet’s ‘mentor’ would you feel honored? I’m not sure, and that, I think, is the poem’s greatest attribute.
My two co-winner both extend metaphors to honor their personal Nestors:
a mentor knows the ropes — untangles knots [David Dayson] sticky business — lubricated by the words of a mentor [David Dayson]
It would not surprise me to learn these poems come from the same pen, they are so much of a piece. They employ identical strategies—the use of a stock phrase turned by the invocation of the mentor, who offers a solution appropriate to that phrase. In both instances the mentor comes to the rescue to solve a problem that is generalized, and calms the situation in the process. Both are unequivocally flattering, both are lean in language, both offer the same relationship to the master.
Who are you mentoring? How will they write about you? Remember that we are still reading Pindar 2500 years later . . .
mentoring at work the lead goose — Ernesto P. Santiago * sudden aging . . . a young colleague asks me “Be my mentor!” — Maria Laura Valente * training day learning just how the boss likes his coffee — Rachel Sutcliffe * avoiding eye contact in the next urinal my mentor — Mark Gilbert * leadership lecture reading through the summers of the mentor’s mind — Willie Bongcaron * orientation a room full of bobble heads sets in motion — Michael Henry Lee * the boss's lunch she shows me the tricks first things first — Sandi Pray * he resigned I try to catch up . . . finish filling his empty shoes — Paul Geiger * shop floor a copy of Dickens by each locker — Lamart Cooper * conference room — a portrait of the painter glances at everyone — Pravat Kumar Padhy * morning skies, striped in pink his reminder to my eyes — Timothy J. Dickey * new employee I put on my motherly face — Marina Bellini * Osho’s poems the master’s wise words on my pillow — Eufemia Griffo * reflecting pool her blue suit and her mentor’s – Jennifer Hambrick * mentor amid lies and truth gut instinct mentore fra bugie e verità istinto viscerale — Lucia Fontana * alito pesante — devo imparare molto in fretta bad breath — I have to learn very quickly — Angiola Inglese * Crane’s shadow and mine expand on Brooklyn Bridge — Anna Yin * observing my mentor shout the real lessons — Christina Sng * office orchid I secure the growing spike to a bamboo stake — Olivier Schopfer * the boss tells her she needs more mentoring happy hour — Gregory Longenecker * her high heels and friendly smile a hit with the rookie journos — Madhuri Pillai * general hospital: psychology tutor is a clinical case — Elisa Allo * the paring of stone fruit hinged amity — Jan Benson * office whirlwind — my mentor 20 years younger than me — Diana Teneva * the mentor — instinct to escape in the legs — Margherita Petriccione * path breaking foot prints behind my son i clean my glasses — Srinivasa Rao Sambangi * for a long time an essay consigliere — my husband — Angela Giordano * mentor don’t make me laugh office tormentor — Karen Harvey * bookshop owner how I owe what I have come to know — Ron Scully * haiku critiques unsparingly . . . trusted friend — Marietta McGregor * A four-leaf clover in the lawn of clover Rare luck Un quadrifoglio nel prato di trifoglio Rara fortuna — Lucia Cardillo *
Next Week’s Theme: Interns & Trainees
Send your poem using “workplace haiku” as the subject by Sunday midnight to our Contact Form. Good luck!
From October 2014 through April 2016 Haiku Foundation president Jim Kacian offered a column on haiku for the London Financial Times centered on the theme of work. Each week we share these columns with the haiku community at large, along with an invitation to join in the fun. Submit a poem by Sunday midnight on the theme of the week, from the classical Japanese tradition, or contemporary practice, or perhaps one of your own, which you might even write for the occasion. The best of these will be appended to the column. First published 9 January 2015.