Hello poetry friends! Today’s prompt will serve double duty: I want to tempt you to write in one of my favorite forms, the ode, but also I want to create a sample poem on one of the themes for the Silicon Valley Reads Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Cupertino Library. Here goes!
An ode is one of the oldest poetic forms in Western culture. As my friends at the Academy of American Poets describe:
“‘Ode’ comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.”
I love to teach odes, because kids get the idea quickly. We talk about Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” which many of them have learned to play on their recorders if they are lucky enough to have music in school, and they readily understand praising and celebrating something or somebody. Read a couple of student odes
at the CPitS website, in the Youth Poetry section.
Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets, wrote many odes (collected in translation and the original Spanish) in Odes to Common Things
, common things like onions and chairs. He’s great to teach, too, especially if you have kids in class whose first language is Spanish. Neruda’s odes help dispel the silly idea some of us picked up in English Lit class that odes have to be about urns and dead athletes and other things we don’t care much about anymore. This one
, “Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market” will give you a flavor.
Today I wrote an ode
to the oddball winter that is 2013-2014. The idea started when I read a news story
about kids at Reed College who crashed a huge snowball (800 lbs) into a dorm wall, damaging it and setting of a viral news story. I didn’t really mean to write a poem with rhyming metered stanzas, but it happened, so I went with it. (Use a web-based site like RhymeZone
if you don’t have a rhyming dictionary.)
My poem (which I’ll publish in a separate post
) is also
an example of how you can hyperlink images, music, and other information to your poem, if you want to experiment. One of the prompts for the Silicon Valley Reads poetry contest
is to “write a poem using technology as part of the process. Use hyperlinks, video, photos or music as part of the poem’s form.” This poem of mine, “Ode to An Oddball Winter
” is just such a conglomerate mishmash kind of poem.