Well this be it. My Ode day. There’s a little flutter of excitement as I head off to St Aidan’s Hall for a workshop entitled In Praise of the Ode to be facilitated by Anne Ryland, award winning poet and teacher, We were a group of twelve and Anne wasted no time in getting the show on the road. No faffing around with long intros or cups of tea. Anne began with a comprehensive explanation on the nature of the ode. Used as a form of celebration in ancient Greece and Rome, often sung and accompanied by dance, the ode has stood the test of time as a lyric poem in regular and irregular verse to glorify a subject or object. In the 19th century poets re-energised the ode. An example being Keats and his Ode to Autumn. Contemporary poets became more experimental with the ode. Chilean poet Pablo Neruda celebrated socks, tomatoes and laziness by means of the ode. Neruda was a master of the ode, many of which have more space than text, and the author of Odus Elementales (Elemental Odes). Members of the group read out these odes and then we began our own. First off was a little ode to a post it note written on a post it note. Next off we each chose an object, selected by Anne, from a table and with prompts from Anne, set off on our own individual ode journey. There were odes to beans, an ink bottle, a yellow duster, a window, to name but a few. My own ode was to a pebble and guided by the prompts from Anne, the celebration of the life of the pebble unfolded. Each member of the group read out their odes – they were funny, emotional, deep and there was so much energy in the room during these readings, I am sure, had there been time, we could have celebrated our objects in true ode manner by singing and dancing. However, there was no more time except to praise the ode and praise and thank our expert oder Anne who, in turn, praised the quality of the odes written in the group. All praise indeed. Then, in no time at all the shutter flew up, the counter appeared and Poetry Cafe was open.
Tea and cake were enjoyed as an assembled group shared and recited their own poetry. Sue kicked off with a poem she had written in 1940, Then the Casa Miranda Stanzas, a poetry group who meet on a regular basis, presented their work with introductions for each section they were reciting. They were followed by Derek who introduced himself as a purveyor of well worn jingle jangles. Anne then read from two of her collections. She was followed by Kevin, Sandra, John, Naomi, Ada and Colin. Time ran out again. Time for the Poetry Cafe to close. Just time for more praise. This time for giving and listening. And now time for a very unpoetic cliché. Wow and Wow.