Celebration and honor are two grounds of poetic tradition. With April coming closer to National Poetry Month, let’s write one more poem and one poem in honor of another poet.
Say hello to the gold shovel.
The Golden Shovel is a contemporary poetic form that follows a set of rules invented by the acclaimed poet Terence Hayes In tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks, Former poet winner and first African-American to win Pulitzer Prize. When Mr. Hayes published his poem, “The Golden Shovel,” originally in his 2010 collection “Lighthead”, it was inspired by Brooks’ classic, and his form was named after his poem’s epigraph, “Pool Players “Came from. On the Golden Shovel. “Mr. Hess created his poetic form in honor of a poet whom he deeply respects, and in the honor of some he plays in many of his poems as well.
Poetry is very much about drama. This is the joy of writing poetry and being a poet. As Brooks himself once said: “Words can do amazing things. They pound, purr. They may insist, they may nausea, whips. They can sing, sing, sing. “
Poets are always celebrating each other, because all poems are actually inspired by other poems. You are going to do the same thing: use what has come before you as an inspiration to build your own golden shovel. In doing so, you too, are honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, one line at a time.
So, what exactly is a golden shovel?
It is a poem that takes a line from another poem or text (often a Gwendolyn Brooks poem, but not always) and uses each word in that line as the end of a line in the poem. For this poem, you will use a title from the newspaper as your line.
In honor of this poetic form, think of your poem as centered on the notion of “celebration” or “honor”. What do you celebrate in your life? What do you respect
how to do this:
You are drunk. Search the paper for a title of five or more words that speaks to you; You can cut something, so that you have options. Each word in the title will be the last word of a line in your poem, so the length of your composition is determined by the title you choose.
Check up. Spread your headlines in front of you and examine them. Which people have the most capacity? When you see them, can you already imagine where those last words can take you? Choose one.
Credit. Be sure to write to the author of the article about which issue your title came from. You have to give credit to that writer at the bottom of your poem. (The poem above is drawn from an article by Jason Zinomon in the March 14 edition of The New York Times.)
Layout. Cut your words and place them on a piece of paper at the end of each line, in the order in which they originally appeared, following the pattern in the poem above.
To write. You are ready to write or write your poem (you may want to do this on scratch paper). Each line should end with your last word, but your actual sentence may flow to the next line, although the last word of each line should feel like some sort of ending. In the poem above, for example, the first line ends with “pain”, which corresponds to the first word of the selected title. See if you can include a simile, a metaphor or perhaps some imagination to provoke the five senses. Do you want your poem to be “pound” or “dead” on the page? Then, focus on sound and music. Have fun with this one.
Ta-da! Write in your poem (or print it and put each of your last words along its line). Congratulations, you have written a golden shovel. If the form integrates you, see “Golden Shovel Anthology,” Published by University of Arkansas Press.