Olympic Ode: Summer Poetry Challenge

In Ancient Greece, literary events were part of the Olympic games. Poets used to win medals. That’s right, medals! Olympic athletes used to commission poets to write odes of victory. It was epic.

Yesterday, during the opening ceremony of the Rio Summer Olympics, Apple aired its latest installment of their Shot on iPhone campaign, which featured a montage of images displayed to the sound of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “The Human Family.” The poem serves as a reminder of the spirit of the games, the sense of a world united, and the poetry of the moment.

Let’s bring poetry back to the Olympics!  This summer’s poetry challenge is to compose an Olympic Ode. An ode is a lyric poem about one specific subject, something that you think is remarkable, spectacular, awe-inspiring, extraordinary. The subject of an ode can be a place, a person, an object, or even an abstract notion (like an idea, concept, or emotion). For this contest, your subject needs to be connected to the Olympics in some way. Perhaps it’s an ode to an athlete, team, or sport. Maybe it’s an ode to your cat who watches the games with you each day. It could be an ode to the Olympic anticipation you feel while waiting for your favorite event to begin, the spirit of political protest taking over Rio, the pizza you ate while watching the events, whatever. Be creative, be honest, be detailed. You want to get into the many nuances of the subject you have chosen and the emotions each inspires in you. You need to make the connection to the Olympics clear and a driving force in the poem. You need to convey your feelings about this subject like an Olympian.


To participate in this summer’s poetry challenge, email your poem to Mrs. Janovitz at janovitz@bpsk12.org by Wednesday, August 24th. We’ll choose the gold, silver, and bronze medal winners and announce them the first week of school. Winning poems will be featured on the site, and in the English hallway. Champion poets will be honored with the glory of victory (and a glorious mystery prize).

Let the games begin!

For inspiration, check out the very first Olympic ode here.