Working on "Ode to Santa Cruz" for Poetry Contest. Sponsored by UCSC Arts & Lecture series,"winning poem to be read onstage by Garrison Keillor during Wed., May 13 show at Santa Cruz' Civic Auditorium." Scribbling, Googling, learning more and more about this place, our home since 1985. Home. I'm someone who will write a draft of a poem and, as part of revising the thing, look up every word in the dictionary (including the word "the") for its Greek, Latin or Anglo Saxon root... some, like "Uncle Dog: Poet at 9", are written all at once. One, two, three... done! And it gets anthologized, well, it used to! Others take longer... and longer... and I think of the Roman poet Horace who, a couple thousand years ago, said to wait nine years before publishing a poem. Polish, polish, polish... in short, don't rush your poem and, least of all, don't rush into print.
A long time fan of Garrison Keillor's Writers' Almanac, pleased and proud to have a couple of my poems read on his show. One poem, "God is in the Cracks," is about my podiatrist father and serves as title piece for latest book, God is in the Cracks, now in its second printing.
Poem: "God is in the Cracks," (Black Moss Press, 2006).
God is in the Cracks
"Just a tiny crack separates this world
from the next, and you step over it
God is in the cracks."
Foot propped up, nurse hovering, phone ringing.
"Relax and breathe from your heels.
Now, that's breathing.
So, tell me, have you enrolled yet?"
"In the Illinois College of Podiatry."
"Dad, I have a job. I teach."
"Ha! Well, I'm a man of the lower extremities."
"Dad, I'm fifty-three."
"So what? I'm eighty. I knew you
before you began wearing shoes.
To good for feet?" he asks.
"I. Me. Mind:
That's all I get from your poetry.
Your words lack feet. Forget the mind.
Mind is all over the place. There's no support.
You want me to be proud of you? Be a foot man.
Here, son," he says, handing me back my shoes,
"try walking in these.
Arch supports. Now there's a subject.
Some day you'll write about arch supports."
Anyway, the website, Poets.org defines "Ode":
"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.
There are three typical types of odes: the Pindaric, Horatian, and Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek poet Pindar, who is credited with inventing the ode. Pindaric odes were performed with a chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories. They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure, followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the final closing section of a different length and composed with a different metrical structure. The William Wordsworth poem "Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" is a very good example of an English language Pindaric ode. It begins:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;--
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
The Horatian ode, named for the Roman poet Horace, is generally more tranquil and contemplative than the Pindaric ode. Less formal, less ceremonious, and better suited to quiet reading than theatrical production, the Horatian ode typically uses a regular, recurrent stanza pattern. An example is the Allen Tate poem "Ode to the Confederate Dead," excerpted here:
Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.
The Irregular ode has employed all manner of formal possibilities, while often retaining the tone and thematic elements of the classical ode. For example, "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats was written based on his experiments with the sonnet. Other well-known odes include Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," Robert Creeley's "America," Bernadette Mayer's "Ode on Periods," and Robert Lowell's "Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket."
Causes Robert Sward Supports
Audubon Society, National Geographic, "Green," the Environment, SPCA...