Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Monday Poetry Stretch - Golden Shovel

I know, it's Tuesday again. I'll just chalk my lateness up to my summer schedule.

I've been thinking a bit about this excerpt I read in this interview with Max Ritvo.
"I’ve never really understood the point of poetry, if not to expose you to different forms of mentation. You can write about whatever you want to write about, it’s your prerogative as a poet, but at the end of the day, what a poet does is let you inhabit a different way of thinking for a brief moment of time. For a very very brief bit of time, logic tacks together in ways it never has, and you’re able to have a series of free associations that’ve never been in your brain, or hopefully in any brain, before. I think that this endures so much more than the message of any poem."
I like thinking about poetry as a different way of thinking, though I've always thought of it as a different way of seeing. I write (usually) with a scientist's eyes, practicing the art of looking closely. I also write with the heart of a mathematician, because I love to puzzle through form and structure.

This week let's puzzle through the form Golden Shovel. This form was invented by Terrance Hayes. In writing a golden shovel, you must first borrow a favorite line or lines from a poem to create your own. The words in this line become the end words of your poem. If you choose a six word line, your poem with have 6 lines. If you choose a 12 word line, your poem will have 12 lines. You get the idea. Remember to credit the original poem/poet in the title or an epigram.

Here's an excerpt from Hayes' poem.

The Golden Shovel
by Terrance Hayes

     after Gwendolyn Brooks

I. 1981

When I am so small Da’s sock covers my arm, we
cruise at twilight until we find the place the real

men lean, bloodshot and translucent with cool.
His smile is a gold-plated incantation as we

drift by women on bar stools, with nothing left
in them but approachlessness. This is a school

     Read the poem in its entirety.

Hopefully you can see Brooks' poem (We Real Cool) in the end words of each line.

So, there's your challenge. I hope you'll join me this week in writing a golden shovel. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. Bee, Door, Do:
    (A Shovel Poem (based on Emily Dickinson’s poem “To Make A Prarie”)

    Like a door buzzer, the bee

    Is an opening, into hive, into home, into heaven. Bee

    Is a doer not a thinker, such revery

    Is something higher orders do,

    Like poets, philosophers, politicians--or at least a few.

    ©2016 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  2. I did only the end word prt, entirely missed the other part. Sigh.--Jane

  3. Enough is enough…

    Shovel Poem: after Anthem, with a nod to Hallelujah, both by Leonard Cohan (St. Leonard to my generation)

    Blanket wrapped moon. Fiery lunar ring.
    Fiercest eye and signatory witness to all
    insanity under heaven’s burning bush. The
    sharpest carillon of steeple bells
    now harshly and unjustly hushed, that
    tho’ doomed to Ever-still
    yet, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! They can
    in forgiveness holy silence ring.

    ©2016 jRobinson, all rights reserved.
    Dallas, Texas July 20, 2016

  4. The last line is from e.e. cummings.

    Birds chirp lullabies to their chicks,
    lakes sparkle like a sea of diamonds,
    rain baptizes our planet in a much needed bath,
    children emit a steady stream of laughter as they play,
    cloud pass each other while crossing the cobalt street,
    and flowers pick themselves.

    (c) Charles Waters 2016 all rights reserved.