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Ode to your ZIP code while staying at home
P. Scott Cunningham MFA ’08, photographed by James Harris (UK)

Ode to your ZIP code while staying at home

April 30, 2020 at 3:38pm

As April gives way to May, National Poetry Month comes to a close. But that’s no reason to close the book on poetic inspiration, according to the Education and Outreach team in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. As part of their FIU@Home educational series, they are encouraging people to try their hands at a zip ode amid social distancing.

The zip ode is an original form invented by O, Miami and WLRN designed to transform ZIP codes into occasions for lyrical neighborhood celebration. FIU Creative Writing alumnus P. Scott Cunningham founded the O, Miami festival in 2011 with support from the John S. and James L. Foundation. It is based at The Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach and while this year’s events had to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cunningham says it hasn’t stopped people’s interest in the festivals catchiest invention.

“This year is different because we can’t be out and about in Miami-Dade County like we would prefer, so we moved to a fully online model,” he said. “But we’re still receiving Zip odes.”

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, many people are experiencing their neighborhoods in ways they never have before. Poetry offers a way to capture those experiences, and crafting a Zip ode is easy, says Elaine Pritzker, director of strategic initiatives who oversees the Education and Outreach team in the college.

How To Write a Zip Ode

Write the numbers of your ZIP code down the left-hand side of a page. Each number determines the number of words in that line. If there is a zero in the ZIP code, that line is a wild card! Leave it blank, use an emoji or use any number of words between one and nine.

As Cunningham and his family spend time at home, they take the occasional social distancing stroll through their neighborhood in Miami Shores. He offered his 33183-inspired zip ode as an example.

(3) My neighbor’s lawn
(3) sign says that
(1) germs
(3) and Jesus are
(8) everywhere, but not how to tell them apart.

If you decide to give a zip ode a try and share it on social media, be sure to tag @FIUCASE and @OMiamiFestival.

Throughout the coming months, the College of Arts, Sciences & Education will continue to share ideas for at-home activities that are fun and educational for the whole family.