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Robin Vaughan-Williams: The Manager


Managers, offices, the daily grind, rows of computer screens, crap coffee machines ... a fair number of contemporary poets have been swift to pen their thoughts on the typical working conditions of modern life, but a new pamphlet I recently received, The Manager, is, I think, a novel and original take on the 9-5 world that most of us inhabit. As its title suggests, it centres on the shifting persona of "the manager", in a sequence that moves from the serious to the irreverant and from the depressing to the uplifting with surprising ease. A few excerpts to pique your interest:

The manager has proverbs on the wall about being a good man
and he reads them at times of intense isolation

when his office has become a cell
and the laughter in the next room is a barrier

he has not the skill to clear.
(Manager #1: Mantra)

The manager burns, he burns
with the heat of an example
others will follow: a new kind of leader.
(Manager #5: Health & Safety Incident)

The manager's eyes are not his own.
He has seen more than one man can bear.
He has seen the high street of humanity,
the bargain hunters, shop lifters,
just looking, and disfigured returns -
receipt or no receipt, that's policy.
(Manager #8: The Manager's Eyes)

Doesn't he realise how vulnerable I am?
I'm a sensitive person.
'I'm a poet,' I say.
'You can't fire me,
I'll put you in a poem.'

'Not a very well known poet,' he says
and fires me anyway.
(Manager #10: Fired!)


Thought-provoking and entertaining, it's a pamphlet that's consistently effective and insightful but at the same time understated, and which doesn't take itself too seriously. Well worth getting a copy, available from HappenStance press at £4, which isn't much more than that extra pint down the pub on a Friday.

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