A golden shovel sounds like some kind of gravedigger’s award (‘and the nominees for best-dug hole are…’) but it isn’t. I came across it today when researching places to send my poetry and discovered that it is in fact a very new poetic form which began as a tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks’s poetry (no, I hadn’t heard of her either.) You take a line or two from a poem and make your own out of it like this: each word of the original line becomes the last word of each line in the new poem. For example, this is a poem taken from one of Brooks’:
The Golden Shovel
by Terrance Hayes, after Gwendolyn Brooks
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
I do not know yet. But the cue sticks mean we
are rubbed by light, smooth as wood, the lurk
of smoke thinned to song. We won’t be out late.
Standing in the middle of the street last night we
watched the moonlit lawns and a neighbor strike
his son in the face. A shadow knocked straight
Da promised to leave me everything: the shovel we
used to bury the dog, the words he loved to sing………..
here’s the rest:
and here’s the original:
The Pool Players, Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
So that got me inspired and I wrote one of my own called ‘Saving Planet Earth’ and based on Andrew Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’:
I also sent a limerick (previously written) and started a poem about the naming of the new Prince.
I am on a roll!
Published by Sarada Gray
I started my first novel, aged 8, in a draughty vicarage, finishing it 14 years later. My first poem emerged on a Sussex beach in 1965, but I didn’t return to poetry until 2007: I’m still trying to find out why.
I have published short stories, poems and reviews and am a recognised performance poet. I’ve been married 21 years and have two children, Holly, 20 and Daniel, 17; but my husband now wants to be known as female. My struggles with this and its effects on my writing, are the springboard for short stories and a radio play.
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