For two Saturdays in November I’ll be leading a group in the study and writing of odes. Why odes? That’s pretty simple. I love the idea of odes. While the old classic odes could be formal in purpose and structure, what passes for an ode today is much more broad. That doesn’t mean you can take any old poem and pin the title “ode” to it (well, sure you can if you want to). Odes are honorifics, but they’re also explorations. They celebrate as they deconstruct. Look at Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn. At one point the speaker is rejoicing in the “happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed / Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu.” But by the end of the poem his mood has taken a turn as he observes “Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought / As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!”
Odes have a way of doing that—start in one place (or one thing) and follow a train of thought to another conclusion. Odes are a sort of chemical reaction, or maybe an experiment. You take X subject and add Y language; mix it up into a metaphor with insight and hope it doesn’t explode in your face.
There are some fantastic contemporary odes by Kevin Young, Dean Young, Rita Dove, and Pablo Neruda. In the first day of the workshop we’ll talk about the many ways odes can function, options for structure, use of metaphor and of course look at lots of examples, then send everyone home with an assignment. The next week we’ll look at the odes each participant brings in.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, you can sign up here. The class meets on two Saturdays from 10AM to 12PM or so, 11/15 and 11/22. Cost for the two days is $60. You can register here or call Musehouse at 267-331-9552.
Below check out Kevin Young’s Ode to Gumbo:
to gumbo</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/aspokendish”>A
Spoken Dish</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>
Twitter with me @uniambic
On February 1 at Musehouse in Philadelphia Hayden Saunier and I will be reading from our new books. You should go. There will be snacks and wine. And poems too. And books for sale. And people to talk to.
Musehouse, the new writing/literary center in Philadelphia, is being featured this month on WHYY (public television) Friday Arts show. In it director Kathleen Bonanno talks about why she started the center and importance of writing in the community. She shares some of her poems from Slamming Open the Door. You’ll also see cameos from Leonard Gontarek, David Bananno, Amy Small-McKinney and Joanne Leva.
By the way, I teach a class in poetry writing at Musehouse. You can check it out and sign up here.
You can watch the Friday Arts program on TV or check out the video here.
Looking for something literary to do on Wednesday evenings (if you’re in the Philadelphia area)? I’ll be leading a new poetry workshop at the Musehouse Writing Center in Chestnut Hill (down the street from the Chestnut Hill Hotel). This workshop will be for beginner to intermediate poets. Honestly, I don’t know what that means, as I think we’re all a still beginner poets each time we sit down to write, but at least don’t show up planning to get into pedagogical arguments. It’s a six-week class meeting every Wednesday 7-8:30 beginning Dec. 7th. There’s a cost for this workshop, but right now I don’t know what it is. I think it’s $120. When I find out I’ll post it here.
If you want to learn more about the Musehouse Center and its events, go here.
The catalog description is here:
In this session we’ll discuss what makes poems work and where good ideas go off course and where to take risks. Elements including image, sound, line breaks and form will all be addressed. Participants will discuss poetry craft, practice writing prompts and explore techniques for discovering poems in everyday life. A wide variety of poems and poets will be read, and students will write, share and discuss their own poems in class.
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