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Kudos to the winners of the Ode to Olympians contest honoring Hephaestus, the God of the Forge!  David Whippman won in the adult category, with his poem “Trade from Achilles” and Tatiana Morand took first place in the under 18 category with “gossip”.

Honorable Mentions for adults include Alyssa Erickson with “Dreams of Hephaestus”; Sara Shea with “Crossing the Everglades”; Patricia Flint; Alice Keys with “Love Forged”; Sylvia Telfer with “The Blacksmith.”  Honorable Mentions in the under-18 category include Drake Huckstep with “Old Forger”; Starr Herr with “Olympian Underdog”; Rachel Martin with “Different Beginnings”; Danielle Watkins

A few observations on this particular contest.  We received fewer poems for the Hephaestus contest, which we rather expected, as his name is challenging to put into poetry.  On the other hand, many of those we received were quite good, as if paying tribute to the spirit of craftsmanship.

For the first time, a couple of acrostics made it into the Honorable Mentions.  We have received many acrostics over the years, but usually they tend to be random lists of attributes, without making a coherent whole.  An acrostic is a good exercise for learning to be creative – we get many from school kids – but hard to do well. 

We are still surprised that we received so many poems unrelated to the contest.  Even if your poem about Poseidon is really good, it will not win in a contest devoted to Hephaestus.  This would be true even if it were the only poem we received.  The completely off-topic poems are rejected as soon as we realize they are irrelevant.

We received poems from all around the world, including Italy, Singapore, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada and the United States.  And these are the countries we know about, as we don’t ask for the country. For those writing descriptions of this contest, remember that it is international, not just national.  After all, Greek mythology really belongs to us all – or at least, to everyone who studies it.

Scroll down and read the poems honoring the lame god of Olympus.  Come back later to read about future contests!


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If you teach mythology, check out our new Teaching Mythology page, with ideas and resources for educators.  We intend to keep adding to this page and we’d value your suggestions and input as well. 

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If you like prose: Why not buy and read our books?  Or give them to friends and loved ones for holidays or birthdays or just because?  Jocasta tells the story of Oedipus but from the point of view of his mother-wife (and has been chosen by some high schools as a companion read to Sophocles – but don’t let that intimidate!).  The Niobe trilogy, Children of Tantalus, The Road to Thebes and Arrows of Artemis mixes myth and archaeology to give the story of an ancient mass murder – and is a great read for those who have finished Percy Jackson and want more challenging time with the Greek myths.  Our newest offering, Antigone & Creon, tells the story of that gripping stand-off – and parts of the story may surprise some readers.

The books are available both electronically and in paper …AND YOUR PURCHASE HELPS SUPPORT THESE CONTESTS.

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The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of novels set in Bronze Age Greece. 

 

There’s no need to read our books to enter the contests, but if you like mythology, or historical fiction, or simply reading exciting stories, we think you’ll enjoy them!

 

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You may be interested in visiting other parts of our website:

Our Books (in English)

      Jocasta

      Children of Tantalus

      The Road to Thebes

      Arrows of Artemis

      Antigone and Creon

 

Teaching Mythology

 

βλία στα ελληνκα - Our Books (in Greek)

Odes to Olympians Contest Current:

 

Winners of Past Contests: Zeus  Hera Poseidon Demeter  Hermes Athena Apollo  Artemis Ares Aphrodite

 

Pronunciation Guide

 

Maps (Thebes, Pisa/Olympia, Eastern Mediterranean)

 

The Stories Behind the Stories

 

Acknowledgements, Thanks, Bibliography and Links

 

About the Authors

 

Victoria's Writing Classes

 

The Highbury Murders

 

 

 

 

 

Buying our books helps support this and future contests!

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A real page-turner . . . a wonderfully nuanced novel that repays previous knowledge of its subject matter - but never requires it -- Historical Fiction Review

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First Place Winner Adult Category

David Whippman

TRADE FROM ACHILLES

In a right state, he was, his lover dead
 and his armour stolen. I worked through the night
 to make what he ordered:  these nobles,
you know how they want everything just so,
 each inlay exactly right.  I almost told him:
 beauty or protection, make up your mind! 
And all the time he paced up and down
while I was trying to work: “Don’t fail me, Hephaestus!”
You’d have thought he was a bride
waiting for the wedding gown…

Later, I found out he only wore it once.
Extravagant, if you ask me.

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First Place Winner Under 18

Tatiana Morand

gossip

 

from the first, you remember

falling. no gentle tumble this;

collision, sky to sea, soar to

still. below the waves, wait

for a wiser world; perhaps

yours to build? but deflected

with their jeers, you are adrift.

 

trial by fire, they whisper,

licking traces of ambrosia

from your wife’s sugared skin.

whispers bind tighter

than any web constructed

to trap them, caught in cages

of their own gossamer lies.

 

they laugh instead.

who are you to dictate?

to plead, to sob perhaps.

you’re only the blacksmith.

worse, those blackest of all curses:

ugly. undesirable. unequal

to her beauty.

 

you can make anything,

but you can’t make her love you.

you can fix anything, but not

your broken heart. cracking

rust trembles between

your fingers, your eyes

bleed, and still, you serve.

 

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Honorable Mentions – Adult Category

 

DREAMS OF HEPHAESTUS

 

Alyssa Erickson

 

It used to be I dreamt only of water, not the fat sizzling drops drying mid-dance on the white of a blade, or the dense hovering particles forming hot spectres in the air, but water that lifted me up from below, morphing my twisted root of a leg in to a painless limb of driftwood.

 

But those dream waters brought me back around to my mother's face, to the view I had as my soft baby back slapped the water and I stretched my tiny transluscent nails upward.  My mother never noticed my oyster-smooth infant nails, the milk-white of my newborn thighs.  She never saw past my red, raw, shrieking face, unlike her own.

 

For awhile, I willed away my dreams with fire.  Women who had turned, offering me only the shell-curve of their moving ears, the creamy creases of their turning throats, now stilled themselves beneath my weight. Men bought my compulsions as weapons.

 

Lately, my dreams have returned. They are not of water. I am in command of an army of metal legs. I leave them behind as they march in formation, and I limp alone through a low, dark, worm-smelling tunnel. My mother turns slowly toward me from a wall of packed earth. Her skin is the skin of an apricot, her eyes are almonds, no longer hard. The bracelets I have made for her are manacles.

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Crossing the Everglades

 

Sara Shea

 

Crossing the Everglades in starlight

and briny air, Jupiter rising.

Swamp trees snapping gator teeth.

Candelabrum of mangrove,

brake lights:::  rubies illuminating

a dark snarl of scrub oak, scratch pine, spice bush,

shadows of anhingas winging.

 

Far at sea, tongues of flame flick

with a hunger for fire-

Oil wells burning.

Beyond heat lightning, tidal sweep,

Seminole bones in quicksand and saw grass,

salty exhaust, thunder, rumble strips,

sun softened causeway tar-

Miami glows with a halo.

 

A meteor falls

into the Gulf of Mexico;

Vulcan flung from heaven.

 

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Patricia Flint

 

In my shoulders I carry the chimera

of champions; their glory ensconced in

my anvil and I patiently extract it with

gentle blows; victory is a shy beast

 

but not as shy as beauty; which has

flown and hidden herself from my shame:

she suffered it as I shuffled through forge

fires and korl refuse. So I lift my arm

 

one-two the wheezing bellows breathe

dragon fire as my hammer comes down

like triumph canvassing the heads

of heroes but I cannot pound out my

 

loneliness in pig iron. A net trapped them

but didn’t keep her when you love some-

thing you must set it free; is that why

they cast me down from my heavenly

mountain?

 

I am suspended, my lameness weighing

me down earthwards, whilst my ore

talents keep me afloat; I am heavy

with the dust of steel and light-headed

with violence

 

Only I am the only one to return from

whence I am cast; the wayward

son of anvil and black; limping

home to the lonely life I have

known

 

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Love Forged

 

Alice Keys

 

Hera cringes from her deformed son

she cannot stomach the ugliness that

mewled forth from her womb a cruel

twisted joke begat of sibling parents

 

don’t limp around me and tarnish my

gleam don’t spill wine on my gown

stains on my beautiful gown flings

son down from her Olympian perch

 

sea nymphs love what mother rejects

Hephaestus grows from bent Godling

to smelt enchanting pearl jewelry and

hammer armor at his volcanic forge

 

his goddess mother loves glitter asks

nymph who made her pearl necklace

mystical shimmer like my radiant self

he shall forge gleaming gold for me

 

golden throne sent from son under sea

Hera’s chair clamps tighter hotter no

escape for vain loveless mother made

for love by your thrown-away son ha

 

ransom paid by Zeus to free his wife

Aphrodite is served up on a half shell

Hephaestus craves beauty she cringes

soot finger smudges on her pale skin

 

on Zeus' orders Hephaestus shapes

clay Pandora revenge aimed at

Prometheus misfires leaves nothing

but slim Hope behind to comfort man

 

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The Blacksmith

 

Sylvia Telfer

 

No longer a Scottish Borders mill town

and the smithy’s gone, that master of fire,

but his forge is yet here and bakers recall him

by their ovens and the local tweed barons still

toss at nights for the smithy’s old stone floor,

an extinct volcano’s rim, yet reeks of fire

and molten metal.

Feared in wool mills, in lush August grain,

Vulcan, yours is a weird bond with us, for

in snow by hearths, your praises flow.

In Glasgow, your tempestuous spirit’s tong-glow

in kaput shipyards where welders’ tools are cold.

Lava spews with grain gifts are odd bedfellows.

Was your dual trait created in that early forsaking

by Juno? From youthful play with dolphins, pearls

as toys, strangely sprang a water-loving Fire God,

a fisherman’s embers the catalyst for your smithy.

Later, some Gods mocked you, a soot-smeared,

limping God with bellows that molded foolish

Pandora to fist us for fire theft.

You’re patron saint of steel-making Sheffield, and

an iron statue of you stares in Birmingham, Alabama,

at tarmac and whizzing cars. The world forever alters

its mode but not you. I see you most clearly in your

forge under Vulcano, still making Jupiter thunderbolts

and Mars weapons; a willful, individual God.

 

 

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Old Forger

Drake Huckstep

Red fire and murkish glow,
Hammer rings keep it burning slow,
Folding, reeling, skin changing.
Sparks flying and coals winking.

Crippled and bent, betrayed and alone with flame,
Mayhaps the folds and forgings will mend, within, what is lame.
Heal and mend, what treacherous she, in lust,
has sorely rend.

Rock above, iron below,
Hands carved, hammer the only fellow,
ears dull, and sweat running, what is forging?
Ask it, ask it again. Ask the lightning.

Slave. Worker. Industry!
Immortal with no release, weaving a tapestry.
One across the world, iron and unbreaking, of steel craft.
Power, worship, but no love to own. For naught he would have laughed.

Never tiring, ever beating, in heart and steel.
Will old hurts, immortal even, ever heal?

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Olympian Underdog

 

Starr Herr

 

Lame bundle in cloth, hot

with envy, hot with spite,

hot with the yearning of coolness

only a mother’s hands can bring,

but only knowing wind whips during

free fall.

 

Lemnos, Lemnos, Lemnos!

Open arms for this bastard child,

conceived in the manless womb

of Hera, goddess who claimed all children

other than he. Crippled child--

know bowels of volcanoes seethe

under throne rooms, betrayal, treachery.

The Love Goddess will not shackle her wrists;

women were never friends to thee.

 

Yet with battle

the Athenians cried, “Lend thy fire.

Lend thy metals, thy tongs.

Lend thy blazing flames dormant

beneath the callouses of sweating palms.”

Hammer what is dull, throbbing with heat,

before it transforms to blade.

Forget Olympian seats,

they are taciturn.

Become the condoner of

defense,

revenge,

war.

 

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Different beginnings

 

Rachel Martin

 

You were born out of the blue swirling white,

Seaweed hair gathered on your shoulders,

Mother pearl eyes, sitting straight and tall,

With a sea silk cloth draped over you,

Loved by all, scorned by no one.

 

I was born out of the harsh flames, yellow,

Of my own mothers heated jealously,

Melted face with smouldering eyes,

Blistered skin, loosely folded over my body,

Loved by no one, scorned by all, Except you,

 

You were carried on a crystal shell, silver,

With nymphs and dolphins riding with you,

Sun shining drying off your seaweed locks,

Lying back, listening as even the waves stop,

Loved by all, Scorned by no one.

 

I was thrown in a violent thunderstorm, black,

With devils and mockery plaguing me,

Lightning striking, thunder following,

Darkness, as my heart gave way,

Scorned by all, Loved by no one, Except you

 

I became a master of jewellery, gold,

With commissions and loyalty thrown down quickly

As if that could make up for their lack of believe

Cloaked by stone statues declaring my worth,

Admired by all, Scorned by no one

 

Yet you became little more than a dating service, red,

Betraying the customers by offering the unreachable,

Causing war and strife, every step taken by your sandals,

Your hair now green with jealously, your lips red with blood,

Scorned by all, Loved by no one, Except me.

 

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Hephaestus the God of Fire

 

Savannah Howe

 

Hephaestus, god of the forge and the fire
Embers glow as he crafts, casting shadows across his unseemly face
Pieces of metal, gleaming red from the fire, yield in his capable hands
Hot flames, scarlet and orange, dimly light his volcanic chamber
Aphrodite, his glorious wife, loves him despite his misshapen form
Even though he's rendered limp, his hands are adept
Sitting alone by the hearth, Hephaestus creates magic
The divine blacksmith was born to Hera, without the help of a father
Ungodly features made his mother terribly ashamed
She couldn't bear it, and from Olympus she flung her child.

Toiling in his chamber, the forger constructed a collection of famous things:
Hermes' winged helmet and sandals plus Aphrodite's girdle, while
Enduring the tiresome, soot-filled nights.

Greek tales portray him in many different ways
Obnoxious and forceful, gentle and quiet, cunning and charismatic
Diverse the versions may be, it's clear that he's talented and essential to the gods.

Often they say he cannot hold down his liquor
Folly and drunken is this Greek god.

Forever he will be the master of creation
Influencing Mount Olympus when they thought that he was worthless
Remember to give thanks to the all-powerful deities
Even the crippled, unsightly god, Hephaestus.

 

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Hephaestus: An acrostic

 

Danielle Watkins

 

Heroes amongst men are justly honored and so heroes amongst gods must too be justly honored.

Earth knows of Hephaestus little more than this: After being cast out of Olympus he fell to Earth

Pity betook Fate so that she allowed him to live and he, broken in body, became master of the forge

He rose from the ashes and chose to forgive those who had cast him down, he chose to answer

A favor asked of him by Zeus, a mission, to sculpt Earth’s first woman.

Each muscle bruised was worth it when Hephaestus saw what he had built, the girl, Pandora

Soft as the tips of a dove’s wings, yet made by the roughest amongst beings

Treasured beauty, but forged by the most hideous god, Hephaestus

Ugliness gave birth to beauty and from her Earth was given light along with dark

So forever may Hephaestus stand as a monument amongst gods; True beauty is found amongst the broken

 

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"The Craftsman"

 

Sarah Thompson

 

The craftsman works with strong hands

Skillfully he selects his tools

 

He does not fear the fire

The flames bow at his command

 

The craftsman works with magic

It courses through his fingertips

 

How easily he enchants his creations

How wonderful they are

 

He does not stand

He does not walk

 

He does not need to

The craftsman's hands are enough

 

 

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Visit the winning poems of other Odes to Olympians contests!

Winning Odes to Zeus

Winning Odes to Hera

Winning Odes to Poseidon

Winning Odes to Demeter

Winning Odes to Hermes

Winning Odes to Athena

Winning Odes to Apollo

Winning Odes to Artemis

Winning Odes to Ares

Winning Odes to Aphrodite

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Concerned that you don't know enough about the Olympians to write poems about them? You can explore these websites:

Parada's Greek Mythology Link: A tremendously detailed resource

Theoi Greek Mythology: Exploring Classical mythology in Literature and Art

Timeless Myths: Greek myths and others as well

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Several have wondered: who are we and why do we do this?  What exactly is this “Tapestry of Bronze?”

First, our names are Victoria Grossack & Alice Underwood.  We sponsor this contest because we want to encourage excellence and creativity.  We’re using the same method used by the Greeks back in Classical Athens: competition.  Instead of olive wreaths, we offer money and certificates for prizes.  We especially want to encourage the under-18 because we want to support educators and students in our own small way.  The idea occurred to us – most appropriately! – when we were visiting the ruins of ancient Olympia in Greece.

Second, the Tapestry of Bronze is a series of interlocking novels.  They are set in the Bronze Age of Greece – several generations before the Trojan War.  This was known to many as the “Golden Age of Heroes,” but to us they seem to be made of bronze and not gold.  Our series is a tapestry, because the books tie together, but one book may focus on one character while another focuses on another.  Each book can be enjoyed separately, or the books can be enjoyed together.  As we state above, it is NOT necessary to purchase or to read our novels in order to enter the contests.  However, purchasing the novels helps to support these contests.

Not sure if you’ll like the books?  Then electronically download a sample at Amazon.  Clicking on the covers below will take you to that company’s website.

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Return to Home for Tapestry of Bronze

Do you wish to contact us?  Write to us at “tapestryofbronze” at “yahoo.com”

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The Newest Offering!

 

 

 

The Niobe trilogy:

Very Strongly Recommended

 

 

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