Theodore Best is Poet in Residence at The Corporate Theatre.
He completed a BSc in Psychology at Goldsmiths College, a Masters in Philosophy at King’s College London, and, most recently, a Masters in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia. He teaches English as a Foreign Language in Norwich.
Theodore has had poetry published and anthologized both online and in print. He is also a keen performer of his work, leading him to be selected as one of 5 poets to take part in ‘Set’, a five day Live Literature residency organized by The Writer’s Centre in Norwich, and poetry organization Apples and Snakes.
Besides poetry, Theodore is also an actor and musician. He has performed widely on stage in the London Fringe, collaborated with artists to devise interactive theatre pieces, and written, directed and starred in short films and plays. In Norwich, where he now lives, he is a member of the avant-garde My Little Eye Poetry Theatre Company, for whom he has also worked on commission as a sound installation designer.
As a member of The Corporate Theatre faculty, Theodore is fascinated by the use of metaphor in corporate settings. In particular he seeks a better understanding of how creative images determine structures and behaviour in organizations.
What inspires you?
I get excited when I sense something else happening beneath the surface of language. The language could be advertising copy, from a movie script, or the words used to tell a story. In any case words shift on their axis, spaces open between them, and the inexpressible navigates its way through to touch us.
Why do you write poetry?
I write in order to try to capture the sense of meaning in the commonplace. The poet John Berryman wrote ‘Life, friends is boring’ and certainly it can be repetitious, dull even, as well as thrilling and challenging. Whatever the experience, I hope to approach my days with an attentiveness to moments that speak of something greater than themselves. I find writing helps me maintain this attentiveness, while keeping my insistent ego at bay. It’s a kind of listening.
How can poetry help business?
The Greek for ‘poet’ translates roughly as ‘maker’. I see the role of poetry in business as essentially enabling leaders to make realities, inspiring others by choosing ‘the best words in the best order’ to paint the pictures of their stories. These vivid stories invite us to live inside them. My experience when facilitating workshops for The Corporate Theatre is that leaders often find security in corporate jargon, suppressing their individuality and unique perspective on the world in order to conform to what they think is the accepted way of being. Poetry demands that leaders express themselves authentically, and strengthens the empathic bonds between themselves and those they reach out to with their words.
Crucially, poems resist explanation. We can never say ‘this poem means X’. Each of us is entitled to his or her own interpretation. This has enormous implications when we think of an individual’s value in the context of an organization. Poetry invites democracy.
As a poet, which leader do you find most inspiring?
In answer to this question, I’ll quote the Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu: “To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence ... When the best leader's work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”
Tell us something surprising about you?
I was a founder member of the performance group Circadelicus. As jugglers, fire-eaters and drummers we were quite prominent on the London rave scene in the early noughties. Wild times!