The Contemporary Ode

The Contemporary Ode


Lewis Turco defines an ode as “any poem that celebrates an event or a person,” going on to describe the three “more or less strict forms” an ode can take. Perhaps contemporary poets owe it to Pablo Neruda who conceived of the ode as an homage to anything (and everything) around him, but recently, odes explore any and everything.

This four-week generative course is a crash course on the 21st and 20th century history of the ode. We will examine the expectations set by titling a poem “Ode” and investigate a diverse selection of contemporary odes (such as those by Fatimah Asghar, Ross Gay, Thomas Lux, John Murillo, Angel Nafis, Sharon Olds, Patricia Smith, and Kevin Young), exploring the craft elements that make a contemporary ode—especially those on unexpected or mundane subjects—successful before setting off to write our own.

Each week, we will focus on a new technique and reason for adopting this form. The writing exercises and prompts include celebrating objects, creating narratives, reclaiming history, and finding bold new ways to write about the self and body.

July 9-August 5 (Online)

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Teaching Artist

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Stacey Balkun

Stacey Balkun is the author of two chapbooks, Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak (dancing girl press 2016) & Lost City Museum (ELJ Publications 2016). She received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at

Art: Grecian Urn with Green Apple, Jean Wilkey