I first came across a ‘golden shovel’ poem in Mslexia (https://mslexia.co.uk/). The form was created in 2010 by Terrance Hayes, a contemporary US poet, who used it to pay tribute to an underappreciated US poet Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000).
The process is as follows:
- take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire;
- use each word in the line (or lines) as the end word for the lines in your poem while maintaining the order. If the line in the original poem is six words long, then your poem will be six lines long. You should be able to read the primary source as an acrostic going down the right hand side of your poem.
- Give credit to the original poem and poet (goes without saying).
I had a go at this with a couple of lines from Charlotte Mew.
Not for that City
‘It is for some remote and quiet stair.’
Péri en Mer
‘The crowded mast cut black against a sky
of fading rose.’
We were going some,
those days before we lost the remote.
We stashed it somewhere safe, behind the sofa perhaps. And
took to watching each other in the awful quiet,
only able to raise ourselves to a stunned and silent stare.
Once the places become too crowded,
people stand like masts
along the pavement, cut
off from each other. Wearing black
for the loss. One day you’ll lean against
me, we’ll watch a sky
in the last of fading
light, smell the perfumed rose.
I was surprised to find I had taken lines from poems written in the 19th century and turn of the 20th century and they became about now. Maybe that is inevitable.
Why not have a go yourself? If you like, you can share your experience or creations in the comments on this blog post.
Wow, lovely piece! I never heard of this poetic form before. I might give it a go one of these days.
Thank you Lucy. Yes, do have a go. It’s good to have some source material to start with and also interesting to see how far you ‘veer’ from the original. I have taken liberties, changing ‘stair’ to ‘stare’ for instance.
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Thanks so much for this Kate, I’d never heard of this process before and will definitely try it. I absolutely love your poem here – it went straight to my heart x
Thanks Janet. It’s strange how something simple can explode into something which touches others. X