A golden shovel is a poetic form in which the last word of each line forms a second, pre-existing poem (or section thereof), to which the poet is paying homage.

It was created by Terrance Hayes, whose poem "Golden Shovel" (from his 2010 collection Lighthead)[1] is based on Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool" (which begins with an epigraph that includes the phrase "Golden Shovel").

Writer's Digest described it as "sort of in the tradition of the cento and erasure", but with "a lot more room for creativity,"[2] while in The Kenyon Review, Dora Malech called it "a kind of reverse-acrostic variation".[1]

Claudia Rankine noted that a golden shovel "always remains in conversation with" the poem on which it is based,[3] while Don Share observed that golden shovels "can be quite different in subject, tone, and texture from the source poem, depending upon the ingenuity and imagination of the poet".[4]

In a discussion at LitHub, Adam Levin stated that he considers it to be a "puzzle" that can "challenge" poets, and that in terms of difficulty it is comparable to sestina and pantoum.[5]

Origin edit

When Hayes decided that his five-year-old son should memorize "We Real Cool", the two of them recited the poem so many times that "(o)ne night, even as [Hayes] began digging for [his] own words, Brooks kept playing in [his] head. [He] decided to string the whole poem down the page and write into it."[6]

References edit

  1. ^ a b The End of the Line: Terrance Hayes and Formal Innovation, by Dora Malech, in The Kenyon Review; published December 22, 2016; retrieved February 15, 2020
  2. ^ Golden Shovel: Poetic Form, by Robert Lee Brewer, in Writer's Digest; published June 24, 2014; retrieved February 15, 2020
  3. ^ Claudia Rankine on the Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks, by Claudia Rankine, in The New York Times; published July 31, 2017; retrieved February 15, 2020
  4. ^ Introduction: The Golden Shovel, by Don Share, originally published in Poetry, February 2017 issue; archived online February 1, 2017; retrieved February 15, 2020
  5. ^ Inventing a New Poetic Form To Honor Gwendolyn Brooks: A Roundtable Conversation With Poets from The Golden Shovel Anthology, at LitHub; published June 7, 2017; retrieved February 15, 2020
  6. ^ Foreword to The Golden Shovel Anthology, by Terrance Hayes, published February 2017 by University of Arkansas Press, excerpted at the Poetry Society