A Song in the Air

An interview with
Eric Ode
 
Eric Ode (pronounced oh-dee) is a children's poet and singer/songwriter from the little town of Bonney Lake, Washington. His newest publication, and first solo project, Tall Tales of the Wild West (And a Few Short Ones), is the first major collection of cowboy poetry and songs for kids. You can also find his poems in My Teacher's in Detention , Oh My Darling, Porcupine , Dinner with Dracula, If Kids Ruled the School, Rolling in the Aisles, and Miles of Smiles as well as in various children's magazines. Eric enjoys jazz piano, good coffee, and traveling with his wife, Kim, and their two children, Kaleb and Lauren.

Q: What got you interested in poetry?

EO: I taught in elementary classrooms for twelve years, and one of my favorite activities was to have the students collect poems based on a theme. It was a project many of the kids dove into and took far beyond my expectations. We'd have poetry books everywhere in that classroom. Of course I would end up buying more and more books to satisfy their voracious appetites. They would get hooked, and so would I!

Q: When did you start writing poetry?

EO: I started writing poems early in my teaching career-about the same time I began writing songs for my classroom and for the various church choirs I was directing.

Q: Who are your favorite poets and lyricists?

EO: Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, Jack Prelutsky-they're all wonderful, especially for goofier, fun stuff. For work that can be a little more tender and reflective, I really like Jeff Moss and Judith Viorst. Jeff Moss and Joe Raposo were the first songwriters for Sesame Street. They were brilliant! Their work was absolutely groundbreaking in the world of children's music. It was clever and intelligent and enormously inspirational for me. I dedicated my album Trash Can to those two. I'm also a big fan of the classic "American Songbook" composers-people like Ira Gershwin, Hoagey Carmichael, Johnny Mercer... They wrote the stuff your grandma might listen to.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

EO: Writers get ideas from absolutely everywhere. I get inspired by something I read or see or hear. And some of my best ideas-if I can call them my ideas-come from dreams. I keep a notepad and pen by my bed. It's amazing how creative your brain can be when you're not the one in control!

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