|THE PAULA GORDON SHOW|
There’s no disconnect between life and poetry, say investment banker Bruce McEver and poet Thomas Lux. Creativity is crucial for both. So is the urge to communicate essential human truths.
To strengthen the connection, Mr. McEver funded a Chair in Poetry at his alma mater, Georgia Institute of Technology, based on his considerable successes as founder and Chairman of Berkshire Capital. His friend Thomas Lux, the renowned poet and teacher who founded and directs “Poetry@Tech”, moved to Georgia Tech to orchestrate the McEver Chair with its Program for Visiting Writers and hold the Bourne Chair of Poetry.
“Part of my mission at Georgia Tech has been to make the point over and over again -- there is not any contradiction between engineering or business or whatever and poetry,” says Mr. Lux. “They can coexist. And they can even strengthen each other.
“One of the things Bruce always told me about his business is that what he likes best is getting the right match of the right people together to make deals. It makes something whole, in this case a business deal. That's very similar to making a poem. They are both creative acts. They are both acts of making. Bringing together different elements. The other thing we both do is poems.”
Mr. McEver concurs.
“There’s no dichotomy between a business person and a poet. I think it’s about being able and wanting to express yourself, wanting to share. I'm trying to help these really intelligent guys and girls (at Georgia Tech) be much more effective people. Engineers aren't worth a damn if they can't write succinctly, put an idea in a memo and get it across, communicate either verbally or in written form.
“Also poetry just enriches your life, poetry like nothing else. Because the playing with words focuses you on looking, it focuses your attention.”
Mr. Lux agrees, focused attention is crucial.
“Anything you love, that you give real focus and attention -- whether it’s art, or engineering or business or a combination thereof or whatever -- if you really work on it, you focus on it, your attention is an expression of your love for that thing, whatever it is.”
Both men embrace the work.
“Tom and I, we're like cobblers,” says Mr. McEver. “You go in there and you move this word, you move that word, and suddenly hours are gone and you don't know where they went. But it was an absolute joy!”
“Bruce is not a like Sunday painter,” Mr. Lux says. “This was something that he's had to do for years and years and years. He’s made time and sacrifices to be able to write in an incredibly busy life.”
Mr. McEver responds, “Business men have it easy. I think Tom and other full-time writers are incredibly courageous people. Every day, to look at that blank page. And they have to do that. They have to create. I can retreat, I have an excuse.
“I see so many people trapped in what they're doing. They say, ‘I really want to write a book. I really am a poet.’ The problem is, people are afraid to let their creative streak out, make it a serious thing. Because it takes work. I grab them and I go, ‘Well, do it! You've made enough!’”
Mr. Lux is careful talking about poetry.
“There isn't anything poetry ‘should be’ or ‘shouldn't be’. There are all kinds of poetry and there's room for all kinds of poetry. Work hard. Learn your craft. Read everything. Know the tradition. Love the thing.”
[This Program was recorded February 8, 2008, in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]
... investment banker and poet. Chairman of Berkshire Capital Securities LLC, which he founded in 1983, Bruce McEver is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology with an MBA from Harvard Business School. His book of poetry, Full Horizon, joins poems he has published in Ploughshares, Westview, The Berkshire Review, The Cortland Review, The Connecticut River Review, The Chattahoochee Review and The Atlanta Review. He starting writing in workshops in New York City, has taken writing seminars at Sarah Lawrence College and a summer residency at Warren Wilson College.
God Particles is published by Houghton Mifflin.
Bruce McEver's successes as founder and chair of Berkshire Capital make possible his generosity to his alma mater.
We produced our first program with Thomas Lux in October, 2003.
In The Middle Mind: Why Americans Don’t Think for Themselves, Curtis White explores the causes and consequences of Americans' failures of imagination and intellect. As demonstrated in God Particles and his teaching, Thomas Lux is one of the antidotes to this malaise.
We appreciate Thomas Lux for the wonderful human being he is, manifest in his many roles as poet and truth-seeker, teacher and guide. We are delighted to know him as a true neighbor and honored to call him friend. We relish our great wealth in these rare currencies that forever hold their value.
Bruce McEver has been the unseen hand which brought Thomas Lux to Atlanta and thereby, brought us back to poetry. It has been a genuine pleasure to get to know Bruce in the process. We are impressed by his wisdom in knowing what really matters in life and in sharing his successes, both as a poet and as a businessperson.
There is no way to know how many lives these two people have enriched with their mutual endeavors at Georgia Tech, in the larger community and in the world at large. Let our “Thank You” stand in for all those who do not know the source of their good fortune, generated by two people on apparently different paths who share common goals -- communicating from the heart, creating beauty, trying to tell the truth and being themselves.