The Peter Principle / work poems.


The Peter Principle is a blog of poems. Each week a poem, made up of five couplets, is released into the blog. From there, each poem has four complementary states of being:





The Etymological State displays off-site links to external sources that define or illuminate specific words and phrases in each poem. This state also reveals footnotes and passages that describe further linkages between word and experience. Select a word or phrase to reveal its link or footnote in the sidebar.

The Phenomenological State displays refrains of words and phrases throughout the poem. Each linked word or phrase, when clicked, displays a list of similar words or phrases as they occur in poems throughout the blog. Follow a link in the sidebar to open a new poem. Purple links indicate previously viewed poems.

The Ontological State displays the poem’s thematic link to the entire work — much like categories or tags. Click on a category to see the other poems within the same theme and select a new poem.

The Archaeological State allows readers to access each poem according to the order in which it was released. Click on a month, and a list of first lines from each poem released that month will appear. The reader can, if he or she so desires, move through the poem sequentially.

Frankly, this was not originally intended to be part of the project, as sequence implies causation and a form of narrative that is antithetical to the lyric intent of each piece. At the same time, the blog format is built upon the causality of moments. After all, if I didn't want it to be read in sequence, why not release all the poems at once? And also, it's not as if the poems were written all at once, so why not throw the reader a bone here, and allow for the more expected experience?

Therefore, Archaeology. You're welcome to travel week by week through the poems, but if you do you're missing all of the good stuff.


In 1968, Laurence J. Peter published The Peter Principle, which held the theory that “every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” He reasoned that any employee who excelled at a particular job would be promoted up the corporate chain, and though the employee might adapt to the requirements of the new job, each promotion brought him closer to a job he couldn’t know how to do. Therefore, any employee is eventually promoted beyond his level of skill and competence.

I’ve been reading Homer, and have been putting a lot of thought into heroes and poetic forms. As a result, I’m exploring the tension between epic and lyric poetry – which is to say the narrative, the expressive and what falls between.

All of these poems are completed before or shortly after going to work.