Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poets and Poems: Denise Riley and “Say Something Back”

It was 15 years ago that I first heard an expression that struck me as almost uncommonly rude. Little did I know how commonly rude it would become.

I was sitting in a conference room in a northern suburb of Chicago, called in as a consultant to help plan a company conference that management hoped would be a game changer. My role at the planning meeting was to listen closely, take notes, and gather information for what would be several speeches at the meeting.

Denise Riley
About 10 people were helping plan the conference, and clustered around a table. They were talking about each day’s agenda, outside speakers, and the reasons why this conference was so important. After the executive with the highest title talked about what his hopes for the meeting were, one manager expressed her own hopes, beginning her words with “And the other thing is.”

That expression did two things. First, it dampened any other opinions. She was implying there were only two things here – the boss’s thoughts and her own. Second, it told me that she hadn’t really been listening, only looking for the opportunity to express her own opinion.

It’s unfortunate that it became a common expression used in general conversation.

British poet Denise Riley examines the idea of communication in her latest collection of 45 poems, Say Something Back.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

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