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Business Professor "Finds" Thomas Edison's Poetry

Feb. 14, 2006

By Morgan Lawrence

Dr. Blaine McCormick, associate dean for Undergraduate Programs at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business, has published a collection of "found poetry" from Thomas Edison's papers. Edison's birthday is celebrated February 11.

Found poetry is poetry that is detected in non-poetic writings. McCormick identified the found poetry while on a research leave, working as a visiting editor for the Edison Papers Project at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

McCormick noted, "They are lifted directly from his private papers with spelling and punctuation intact. I served only to pick the beginning and end of the selection to transform the prose into a poetic format."

Several of the poems McCormick found have already been published in The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Raritan: A Quarterly Review, and The Edisonian. McCormick has published the complete collection of found poetry in the new book Innumerable Machines in My Mind: Found Poetry in the Papers of Thomas A. Edison. McCormick, a well-known Edison scholar, also published At Work with Thomas Edison in 2001. This book explores business lessons through Edison's actions as an innovator and entrepreneur.

Edison penned some of his own poems but never published them and little did he know that some of his writings would be put together in poetic form. Edison did once say, "Inventors must be poets that they may have imagination."

The inventor's birthday on February 11 will serve as a time to look back at all of Edison's achievements. "It is hard to believe that it has only been 75 years since Edison was alive" said McCormick.

Many of Edison's inventions have completely changed the world in which we live into today. Edison was awarded 1,093 patents during his lifetime. His inventive legacy is as diverse as recorded sound, electric light, motion pictures, x-rays, batteries, advanced telegraphy, and electric lighting systems.

According to McCormick, the phonograph was Edison's favorite invention and he tested the operation of the phonograph by recording a poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb.

McCormick believes that poetry was one of the stimulants that fueled Edison's remarkably creative mind and it remains a widely overlooked field in improving creativity.

Innumerable Machines in My Mind: Found Poetry in the Papers of Thomas A. Edison is published by Moon Pie Press (www.moonpiepress.com).

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