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Craft, Poetry Prompts

Monday Poetry Prompt

This week’s prompt: a form poem the ‘Golden Shovel’

See the explanation of the form on Robert Lee Brewer’s blog for the Golden Shovel or a copy of it below. Terrence Hayes invented this form.

In summary, you choose a line or more from one of your favorite poems and use every word of those lines in a poem you write as the last word of your lines.

The explanation on Brewer’s blog contains two links to an exquisite example: Gwendolyn Brooks’ ‘We real cool’ poem as the original poem and Terrence Hayes’ ‘Golden Shovel’ poem.

Happy Writing!

Here are the rules for the Golden Shovel:

  • Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
  • Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
  • Keep the end words in order.
  • Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
  • The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.

If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.

If it’s still kind of abstract, read these two poems to see how Terrance Hayes used a Gwendolyn Brooks poem to write the first golden shovel:

As you can see, the original golden shovel takes more than a line from the poem. In fact, it pulls every word from the Brooks poem, and it does it twice.

 <- original : golden shovel ->   



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