A Golden Shovel


For some reason when I attend NCTE I am drawn to poetry sessions.  Why? I don’t know.  I do not consider myself a poet, yet still I go.  Maybe I hope to one day be inspired to write some meaningful poetry.

Anyway, NCTE 2019 was no exception.  I did attend several sessions on poetry.  Last week I shared Sijo  poems, which were new to me.  This week I would like to share another format that I learned.  I found it interesting and a bit more difficult to write.

Are you familiar with Golden Shovel Poetry?  I can honestly I had never heard of it so I was curious to hear what it was and how to go about writing one.

I learned that this type of poem was devised by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks.

Here is how it works.  Find a line from a poem or story that interests or speaks to you.  Every word in that line or sentence becomes the last word in each line of your poem.  Your poem does not need to be on the same topic as the work from which the line comes.  You do need to give credit to the original piece and it’s author.

I found this to be a bit challenging, but I did give it a try.  Here is what I came up with.

I chose a line from The Perks of Being  Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  Here is the line:  We accept the love we think we deserve.

As we navigate our lives, we

encounter obstacles.  How we accept

and deal with them is the

essence of who we are.  Do we love

ourselves enough to conquer them, or do we

submit to self pity because we think

it’s all we

are worth.  Do we get what we deserve?

I admit that this was a difficult from for me.  I am not sure if what I wrote makes any kind of sense or if they are just words on a page.  I do know that I want to try more like this and see what I can come up with.

If you are inspired by this kind of poetry I would like to read your examples.





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12 responses to “A Golden Shovel

  1. Doing this DOES seem difficult. Sounds like a worthy enrichment challenge we can share with kids when they’re ready.

    • Exactly. Would be great for some extra credit. I think it would be interesting to use this in non-language arts classes to see what concepts strike students and how they can bring it around to writing.

  2. I have never heard of this method and am going to try it now! Thanks so much for sharing. I am a poet but as a teacher I think that poetry is a great way to hook kids into reading. There is white space and there are moments to talk about worthy text!

  3. Mary Lee and Margaret have written shovel poems before. They are so interesting to see and write! Always great to Learn More!

    • It is interesting to see where your thoughts go when you have an ending word for each line. What comes before those words? This was entirely New to me. Glad learned something new.

  4. Yes, yes, yes, this poem makes beautiful sense! What a cool idea. I have to try this…isolate one of my favorite quotes, and work backwards. Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have tried to write Golden Shovel poems and they are really hard. Yours is fantastic. Kudos for persevering and making a beautiful poem.

  6. Sara T

    so interesting!

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