September, the season of beginnings, new notebooks, renewed energy for work, and for some, the new year. If you are still Covid working from home, the satirical poems below might remind you of what you are (not) missing at the office.
Satire or disrespectful verse is a fine old tradition in Canada, as F.R. Scott and A.J.M Smith argued in their collection, The Blasted Pine: An Anthology of Satire, Invective and Disrespectful Verse (Macmillan revised edition 1967, reprint 1976). Rohini Sunderam’s book of poetry, Corpoetry (Ex-L-Ence Publishing, UK, 2014), steps right into this tradition, mocking as it does corporate culture. She was inspired to write the poems when she overheard the phrase “corporate laughter” used to describe the forced laughter of employees during an office visit from the chair of the company.

Annual Report (AR)
Missions and visions and values, oh my!
The sentiments they raise, bring a tear to my eye.
The customer is king, they ‘most always declare
And the market is bullish even when it’s a bear.
The Reports may belie
What the Financials declare
Yet the company is spreading joy everywhere.
You’ve got to believe all that they’re saying
From their mission and vision they will not be swaying.
The customer (as we said) is high on the list
And there’s just no one that we haven’t missed.
He’s high and he’s gold and he is the King
But as in all monarchies there’s one little thing.
And so in your search if you’re a bit bolder
You’ll find…
The customer is king, but their god’s the shareholder.

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Retirement Party
An epidemic of retirements
In one fell swoop...gone!
Experience, camaraderie, old ties, old ways.
A happy handshake, a tear or two, a party
And old files will be relegated
To the backroom tomorrow.

But today, we sigh.
Coffee-room chatter will soon imbue them
With the aura of legends
Making them larger than life.
Each peccadillo
Remembered with fondness
Irritating habits
Glossed with memory
Into shining example.
The good old days grow more appealing
Yet years of tried, tested and true
Are thrown out
Tossed away with disdain
As what was the latest management fad
Gives way to a newer refrain.
                            --Rohini Sunderam
Rohini Sunderam

An active member of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle, Rohini Sunderam has written ad copy for films, radio, and print, in India, Bahrain and Canada; she also wrote two books that were commissioned assignments for her professional work. She has two books of fiction: Desert Flower (Ex-L-Ence Publishing, UK 2015) under the pen name Zohra Saeed, a romance based in 1930s Bahrain, and Five Lives One Day in Bahrain (Ex-L-Ence 2016). Sunderam’s poem “Birth Pangs” appeared in The Society of Classical Poets in 2018, among other online and anthology publications of her work. Her articles have been published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India; The Globe and Mail (Facts & Arguments) and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada. For more from Sunderam, check out her blog fictionpals.

photo credits: Rohini Sunderam; author photo: Fajr Ghanim

Posted by Debra Martens

author, editor

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for including me in this great list of Canadian writers abroad. It’s a very special honour and I am truly humbled.

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  2. […] between writers can lead to all kinds of advantages. Being featured on Debra Martens’ Canadian Writers Abroad is one such […]

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  3. Great poems! I especially enjoyed Rohini’s Retirement party.

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    1. Thanks, Darlene!
      It’s interesting the different poems that people connect with. No one’s ever mentioned this poem to me before, even friends who have read the entire book!

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  4. Loved BOTH the poems featured here.

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