Friday, March 31, 2017

March DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway

"Parigi - Ode" by alfonsobussolin

There is something about you that makes me pick up my pen and write.
                            – Avijeet Das

At the beginning of this month, Helen Frost challenged us to write her version of an ode poem:
Choose an object (a seashell, a hairbrush, a bird nest, a rolling pin). It should not be anything symbolic (such as a doll, a wedding ring, or a flag). Write five lines about the object, using a different sense in each line (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). Then ask the object a question, listen for its answer, and write the question, the answer, or both.

The poet in me loves all the excitement surrounding challenges like this one.

"Ode to Joy" by Robert Couse-Baker
A new form for the poetry toolbox? Yes, please!  It's incredible how much freedom can be found within strictly-defined structure. In the case of this month's challenge, while I imagined there would be a wide variety of thoughtful and heartfelt poems in response, I never imagined how a form like this one could accommodate humor, rhyme, or even merge with another poetry form (the acrostic). Many thanks for the lesson in creative calisthenics!

The administrator in me, however, finds new form challenges to be challenging in another way.

"Ode to an Air Conditioner" by Brian Donovan
It's difficult enough deciding which poems get featured (I always wish I could share more), but when I also must consider if a poem has satisfied all the criteria of a new form, that makes my job even harder. Are the rules being met, bent, or broken? Not all poets stick to the rules of a challenge, and that's as it should be! You should always feel free to modify a DMC challenge to suit your muse.

But is it fair to feature poems that stretch the rules when there are others on the padlet that do not? Sometimes I do share these "deviant" poems as daily ditties; more often, I don't. My main objective is to feature poems that show a way into the challenge for others who may be struggling, though I also strive to feature a variety of poets, fresh perspectives, and differing styles. Sometimes I even try to link the poems in a given week by theme or show some kind of progression from day to day... even if I'm the only one who notices. I realize that I tend to overthink stuff like this, but if you have thoughts, I'm curious to hear them. Feel free to email or leave a comment.

"Ode to Light" by Alex Mertzanis

In the meantime, please know how grateful I am to everyone who contributed an ode to this month's challenge, and most especially to Helen Frost for giving us a new form to ponder.

Scroll through the poems below. Or, for best viewing, click HERE.

Made with Padlet

Inspired to write your own ode poem?

Add it to our March 2017 padlet by the end of today (Friday, March 31st) to be included in the wrap-up presentation.

Participants in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a personalized copy of WHEN MY SISTER STARTED KISSING by Helen Frost (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan, 2017) One entry per participant, not per poem.

Alternatively, you may enter the giveaway by commenting below. Comments must be received by Tuesday, April 4th. If you contribute a poem and comment below you will receive two entries in total.

The winner will be determined by and announced next Friday, April 7th, when we reveal next month's ditty challenge.

Good luck!

The Poem Farm is having a birthday! On the eve of National Poetry Month, let's join Amy Ludwig VanDerwater in raising our pens and glasses in celebration.  Happy Poetry Friday!


  1. What an aMAZing gallery of odes to look through. So inspirational....and such a community of writers. Thank you ALL

  2. The variations of subject, style, and substance of these Odes is fabulous, Michelle! Every poet is a rock star! =)

  3. Such a great collection! Helen Frost picked a winner. It was like a workshop, reading that post and writing the ditty. Thanks to both of you!

  4. It was such fun to follow these odes, Michele. Who would have anticipated odes to wrapping paper, Girl Scout cookies, or dirty socks. (Well, maybe the cookies but definitely not the dirty socks.) Writing odes like these will make a good morning starter to ease into the day's writing.

  5. This month's challenge produced some really wonderful work! Thanks to Helen and to you!


    Please let your readers know how much I have enjoyed reading their odes. I am amazed at the range of subjects, tone, presentation, and as you mention, how closely the form is adhered to. Each one has something special to offer.

    Jone, I was delighted to see how your students ran with this! And I agree with the comments, that you must be a great poetry teacher.

    Most of all, I appreciate the sense of community so evident in the entire month’s conversation. People I know in real life or online, and people I have not yet had the pleasure to meet. I’m glad to have been a part of it, and I look forward to sharing When My Sister Started Kissing with the person whose name is drawn next week.

    Thank you so much, Michelle, and everyone here.

    Helen Frost

  7. Yes, Michelle. Thank you! You create such a welcoming and thoughtful space for readers and for writers. There is something about the ode, isn't there? A reason to stop and admire. Here's to you and a brilliant Poetry Month ahead! xx

  8. Another great month with fantastic pieces by everyone. I'm excited to see what comes next.

  9. This is another amazing collection of poems. Thank you for curating this gallery with such integrity.

  10. I wrote an ode but it still needed adjustments. It's a cool assignment!

  11. I absolutely agree with you, in a funny way having strict rules can actually be liberating as a writer! Sometimes I just have too many ideas, and my thoughts ping around my brain before flying away, and I sometimes struggle to find my direction. Sometimes having a guideline, even if you break from it, can be just the structure you need to get the ball rolling.

  12. What a great collection! I have now completed two challenges, and I learn so much from all of you. Thank you Helen for a fun challenge.

  13. What a treasure trove of poems for this month! Thanks for collecting and organizing all of them Michelle; and thanks Helen Frost for this creative challenge! I love the pictures you included in this post Michelle, especially the praying mantis, and the "Ode to Joy" thanks for all!

  14. While I love each and every one, I do love when some create odes to what we might usually call useless trash. I just finished a middle grade book, The Seven Most Important Thing that considered the creation of beauty from trash. It seems an important story, not necessarily a new one, but I thought of the odes when I read. Thanks, Michelle for your continuing to host a place for sharing beautiful words, and to Helen for a wise challenge pf exploration.

  15. I've enjoyed all the odes you have featured (and poems from past challenges, too). I haven't yet tried it, but have added to my writing notebook to explore later.

  16. These have been so fantastic, Michelle - I wish I could have submitted one, but time has not been my friend. But I tried to read as many as I could. Hopefully next month!

  17. So many fabulous odes. Once again, I was stumped..the ode is in my brain shifting around but I couldn't get it out into the world. I loved the discussion about being the administrator and the difficulty in selecting who gets featured.

    1. I agree with Jone about appreciating your administering Michelle. We all do but this post helps us understand some of the complexities. Go, YOU.

  18. There were so many odes I could have written this month, but they all came from cuts too fresh and oozing.

    I'll be back to dittying. So many threads were dropped in March. I might need to rip out quite a few rows before I can knit with any clarity.