101 Corporate Haiku

First published in Woodnotes #23, Winter 1994, pages 54–55.

101 Corporate Haiku by William Warriner. Addison-Wesley, 1994, 112 pages, paperback, 5¼ by 7 inches. $9.00 in bookstores. Well, a New York publisher has gone and done it again—publish a haiku book that has practically nothing to do with real haiku. These are actually witty aphorisms and miniature tidbits of business wisdom, parading about in 17 syllables under the guise of haiku—“rightsized” poems, as the author buzz-phrases them. Warriner does achieve his stated goal, however, bringing poetry to the stiffness of corporate culture, and using it to “open windows of perception” regarding corporate matters. And he doesn’t seem ignorant of traditional haiku and senryu in Japan and America, as you can surmise from his introductory “Memorandum.” But the bottom line (egad! another corporate buzz-word!) is that these verses are not haiku—and the bemused executive who thinks they are will be misinformed. Nevertheless, I think it’s safe to say that most people reading this book would not be fooled into thinking these are “real” haiku, so, for all the book’s fun and pithy advice, maybe no harm is done. As for the benefit to corporate executives, perhaps the best judge would be a real live corporate executive. Whatever your station, if you come across the book, try judging it yourself. Here’s an unrandom selection (poem #42) from the section entitled “Second Quarter,” perhaps of interest to HPNC [Haiku Poets of Northern California] executive committee members past and present . . .

The road we follow

leads to Mount Fuji, if we

get past this meeting.