I recently finished the book Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky who is a senior editor for Fortune covering all things Silicon Valley. The book was interesting and a fast read—it read much like a long magazine article—and it’s a nice companion to the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.
Near the beginning of the book Lashinsky describes the kinds of people Steve Jobs hired during the early days at Apple. In particular, Jobs was looking for people who “had an insight into what one sees around them,” what Lashinsky and presumably Jobs called an “artistic gift.” The artistry found in computer design also manifested itself in other ways which Jobs described in a 1995 interview for the Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program. The following is a quote from that Awards Program which Lashinsky uses in the book.
The goal Jobs said was…
“…[to put] things together in a way no one else has before and [to find] a way to express that to other people who don’t have that insight so they can get some advantage of that insight, [and, thus, make] them feel a certain way or [allow] them to do a certain thing. If you study these people [the ones Jobs was hiring]…you’ll find…in this particular time, in the 70s and the 80s, the best people in computers would have normally been poets and writers and musicians. Almost all of them were musicians. A lot of them were poets on the side. They went into computers because it was so compelling. It was fresh and new. It was a new medium of expression for their creative talents. The feelings and the passion that people put into it were completely indistinguishable from a poet or a painter.” 1
Interesting. And, my anecdotal evidence from many years working with innovative, creative software teams is that Jobs’ observation is still true today. Some of the most inspired programmers and designers whom I have had the pleasure to work with often had avocational interests in the arts, particularly music. I’d like to think my own preoccupation with poetry follows similarly—it’s a perfect outlet for a creative temperament. Now, how meteorology fits into all this is still the unanswered question. 🙂
1Adam Lashinsky, Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired—and Secretive—Company Really Works (New York: Business Plus, Hachette Book Group, 2012), p. 52.
Meteorology and poetry are often interrelated. Poets write about what they see and feel. What they see and feel is influenced, changed, and shaped by the weather’s vagaries. The association between the two can produce something like this:
The storm puts its mouth to the house
and blows to get a tone.
I toss and turn, my closed eyes
reading the storm’s text.
This is the first verse of a poem by the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tomas Tranströmer. The poem, entitled “storm,” was translated from Tomas’ native Swedish into English by the Scottish poet Robin Robertson and published in the short paperback, The Deleted World: Poems (see cover photo below). This particular verse reminds me of what we all do when listening to the wind heralding the approaching onslaught—we attempt to “read the storm’s text.” Meteorologists just tend to do it much more than normal folk.
|by Robert Frost|
|O HUSHED October morning mild,|
|Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;|
|To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild,|
|Should waste them all.|
|The crows above the forest call;|
|To-morrow they may form and go.|
|O hushed October morning mild,|
|Begin the hours of this day slow,|
|Make the day seem to us less brief.|
|Hearts not averse to being beguiled,|
|Beguile us in the way you know;|
|Release one leaf at break of day;|
|At noon release another leaf;|
|One from our trees, one far away;|
|Retard the sun with gentle mist;|
|Enchant the land with amethyst.|
|For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,|
|Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,|
|Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—|
|For the grapes’ sake along the wall.|
Frost, Robert. A Boy’s Will. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1915.
I have never thought of tossing a poem around, but I guess anything is possible during National Poetry Month…
Two boys uncoached are tossing a poem together, Overhand, underhand, backhand, sleight of hand, every hand, Teasing with attitudes, latitudes, interludes, altitudes, High, make him fly off the ground for it, low, make him stoop, Make him scoop it up, make him as-almost-as-possible miss it, Fast, let him sting from it, now, now fool him slowly, Anything, everything tricky, risky, nonchalant, Anything under the sun to outwit the prosy, Over the tree and the long sweet cadence down, Over his head, make him scramble to pick up the meaning, And now, like a posy, a pretty one plump in his hands.
The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart
Edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, Michael Meade, New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1992, p. 186.
New and Selected Poems, Volume Two
by Mary Oliver, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2005, p. 4.
The next installment for National Poetry Month is a piece by an English poet, Elizabeth Bridges. The mountainous theme: apropos for those of us living next door to the Rocky Mountains.
The mountains beckon me To endure the storms, The valleys offer me Rest in their long arms. In dreamy forests Have I ever dreams, Whispering my secrets To whispering streams, And what can I do now When glad Spring's abroad But leap, and merrily Laugh and shout aloud!
by Elizabeth Bridges, Cambridge, England: Oxford, 1916, p. 23.
Something by Marianne Moore as we continue our journey through National Poetry Month. In this piece, Marianne wonders about just what poetry is and why it can be so alluring…
I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle. Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine. Hands that can grasp, eyes that can dilate, hair that can rise if it must, these things are important not because a high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because they are useful. When they become so derivative as to become unintelligible, the same thing may be said for all of us, that we do not admire what we cannot understand: the bat holding on upside down or in quest of something to eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that feels a flea, the base- ball fan, the statistician -- nor is it valid to discriminate against 'business documents and school-books'; all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the poets among us can be "literalists of the imagination" -- above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, 'imaginary gardens with real toads in them', shall we have it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, the raw material of poetry in all its rawness and that which is on the other hand genuine, you are interested in poetry.
From: Poetry Out Loud Edited by Robert Alden Rubin, Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1993, pp. 192-193.
Following the pattern begun last week on the first Friday of National Poetry Month, here is another lightweight poem by America’s 20th century master of whimsy and wordplay…
The Best of Ogden Nash
Edited by Linell Nash Smith, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2007, p. 33.
As we continue stepping through National Poetry Month, here’s another modern poem from the present day American poet, August Kleinzahler:
Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, Poems, New and Selected
by August Kleinzahler, New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008, pp. 122-123
Today’s installment in celebration of National Poetry Month is another fairly recent addition to the poetry universe…
Tired of the Same Old Job?
POETEK, an equal opportunity employer.
For reference, see “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats.
Islands in the Sky
Poems by David Meuel, Palo Alto, CA: Purism Creek Press, 1997, pp. 56-57.